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Child Abuse In Brave New World Essay

A young child rests in the safety of her bedroom, oblivious to the world around her. Suddenly, she wakes with a jolt and runs to find her parents. She’s had a nightmare. Instantly, the parents calm her down, and she is ready to dream once more. But what would she have done if she had no parents to go to? Would she have been able to calm herself down, or would she have stayed up all night, unreasonably afraid of the monster in her dream?

More importantly, what would she have done if these nightmares occurred frequently, causing many sleepless nights? Parents, as guardians and caregivers, must carry the responsibility of teaching their child how to handle new and difficult situations as well as prevent unhealthy coping mechanisms. If they neglect this duty, they jeopardize the state of their child’s mental stability, for these mechanisms may eventually evolve into a maladaptive mental disorder (Dwyer 11).

As Child Abuse and Stress Disorders states, “physical wounds heal, but psychological wounds can last for years” (Olive 65). Without learning the proper ways of conducting themselves in consequential situations, children run the risk of increasing their stress by developing unhealthy coping mechanisms and illogical behaviors. Suffering from such fates, John from Brave New World, Grendel from Grendel, and the Creature from Frankenstein have to rely only on themselves to solve problems, as well as deal with the consequences of their solutions.

Without an emotional guide throughout their growth, these characters developed irrational mentalities which eventually escalated into mental disorders. Harry Harlow, a renowned psychologist in the mid twentieth century, was of the first to see the effects of parental neglect on a child’s thought process with his “Monkey Love Experiments. ” In these tests, Harlow would replace the biological mothers of monkeys with wire and terry-cloth surrogates and analyze the differences between the developments of the monkeys’ behavior.

He noted that when introduced to new, intimidating objects, the monkeys with cloth surrogates would “make bodily contact with their mothers” and eventually calm down, while those with wire surrogates would drop to the floor and screech until the object was removed from sight (Herman). With this observation, Harlow discovered the importance of nurture over nature, for although both sets of monkeys had all the resources to grow physically healthy, it was simply the lack of emotional support that stunted the mental development of the monkeys with wire surrogates.

Harlow determined that without a nurturing presence, children, like the monkeys, would have no emotional base to determine their feelings towards foreign objects, and would act out until the situation would resolve itself. Like these monkeys, John, the Creature, and Grendel were unable to develop emotionally stable relationships with their own guardians because of their parent’s neglect. Child Abuse and Stress Disorders explains that the causes of this neglect are mainly due to the parent’s own frustration, narcissism, or isolation (Olive 67-69).

In Brave New World, John’s mother, Linda, displays both frustration and narcissism, as she is oftentimes too absorbed in her self-pity to care for her son. Her addiction to Pope’s mescal would leave her in bed for several days, leaving John to wash and care for himself. At one point in her frustration, Linda blatantly cries to John “I’m not your mother. I won’t be your mother,” and later calls him a “little beast” for causing her to be shamefully trapped inside the savage reservation, away from her home (Huxley 127).

Similarly, in Frankenstein, Victor displays his own narcissism once he immediately abandons the Creature, claiming that the sight of the monster filled his heart with “breathless horror and disgust” (Shelley 36). In doing so, Victor leaves the Creature to suffer a fate worse than those of the monkeys with wire surrogates, for the Creature comes into the world with no one to fulfill his physical nor his mental needs. Instead of receiving a helping hand to provide him food and amenities, the Creature endures a “strange multiplicity” of senses, such as sight, touch, smell, and sound, simultaneously with no comfort or support (70).

Separately, Grendel, unlike John and the Creature, possesses a caring relationship with his mother, but since she remains his only companion due to their isolation, he grows too attached, and bases all of his emotions around her. This causes Grendel to develop separation anxiety during childhood, as he claims that “when her strange eyes burned into me… I was intensely aware of where I sat… and the shocking separateness from me in my mama’s eyes… I would feel, all at once, alone and ugly… ” (Gardner 17).

Without his mother, Grendel would have no one to accept him, so he clings desperately to her existence as the foundation of his being. However, since his mother is unwilling to explore the outside world with him, he is left alone in the woodland, and must fend for himself. Because of this, Grendel becomes overly distraught when he finds himself in a deplorable situation without her, stating that the world around him had become “crazy. ” He claims that if she were with him “the cliffs, the brightening sky, the trees, the stag, the waterfall would suddenly snap into position around her, sane again, well organized” (18).

Because of these characters’ antisocial and narcissistic parents, they had to endure the burden of raising themselves. Olive states that this burden on any child ultimately leads to the creation of destructive feelings. These feelings a child could then direct outwardly, through blaming others and displaying signs of aggression, or inwardly, by denouncing themselves and becoming depressed (Olive 69). Although children who choose to direct their feelings outward often show signs of aggression, they are also known to seek attention as well as have difficulty socializing.

Based on their frequent outbursts and destructive behavior, Grendel and the Creature fall into this group, causing them to show signs of conduct disorder. This disorder is usually found in aggressive subjects, and causes them to frequently act out, mainly through crime (Keenan 328). According to “Psychologically Speaking… “, this aggression is caused by a rejected subject’s “strive for satisfaction” (ACE5W). Since these outcasts cannot be accepted into a community, they are unable to develop their superegos, which internalize cultural rules and values.

With no concept of rules or restrictions, their egos allow their ids to go on uncontrolled, causing these characters to make rash decisions to get what they want- in Grendel’s and the Creature’s case, acceptance. Unsurprisingly, these actions eventually lead to upsetting outcomes due to the lack of thought put into them. Distraught from not achieving what they desire, the characters then go on to undertake further attempts towards acceptance, trapping themselves in an endless aggressive cycle.

Desperate for empathy, the Creature rushes to the blind De Lacy and asks for his trust despite his appearance, but is interrupted by the return of the rest of the family. In a last effort, the Creature seizes the old man and begs “Save and protect me! You and your family are the friends whom I seek. Do not you desert me in the hour of trial! ” which is then mistaken for an attempted attack (Shelley 93-95). The cottagers quickly leave, terrified of the Creature’s abrupt appearance.

Alone once more, the Creature copes with this rejection through further destructive behavior, wrecking the cottage and leaving it in shambles. After burning the cottage down, the Creature then goes on to seek more opportunities for companionship. Similarly, Grendel, upon listening to the Shaper’s melody outside the great hall, becomes so deeply moved that he unthinkingly staggers into the hall, howling “Mercy! Peace! ” with the implausible hope of becoming a part of their community (Gardner 51).

Due to his sudden entrance and his appearance, the men in the hall attack Grendel and eventually drive him out. These consequences then commence hostilities between Grendel and the men, eventually leading to Grendel’s death. In both circumstances, it is the endeavor for respect and acknowledgement that leads to the characters’ doom. In contrast, those who direct their feelings inward tend to be withdrawn from society, choosing to separate themselves from peers, whereas Grendel and the Creature are separated against their will (Olive 70).

Because these subjects tend to blame themselves during inconveniences, they develop a low selfesteem, and often become clinically depressed. John, because he refuses to accept the New World’s values, falls into this category. Danika Chrunik from Capilano University explains that the differences between John’s values and the rest of society’s are the result of the New World’s encouragement of superegos to seek “instant gratification of id impulses. ” In doing so, the ego is diminished and creates the “moral value of passivity” within the community (Chrunik).

Since John was raised outside of this state, he does not encourage feeding his id, and sequesters himself so as to not fall into temptation. When John professes his feelings for Lenina, his intentions are to marry her, whereas she intends to engage in physical intimacy. She chants mottos like “Hug me till you drug me, honey” to persuade John to accept this value, but he refuses and threatens her until she stops (Huxley 193-195). After this interaction, John flees to a secluded island, where he is still harassed for his rejection.

Ultimately, John never finds another he can relate to, because no one else has the same mindset he does. His isolation eventually leads him to show signs of depression, and causes him to commit suicide. With no one to wholly meet their emotional and physical needs, the Creature, John, and Grendel must face the world alone and eventually develop disorders due to their rejection. Because of their parents’ frustration, narcissism, and isolation they each endure a neglectful childhood, similar to that of Harlow’s monkeys.

In times of great stress, these characters create irrational coping mechanisms through either directing feelings inward or outward. By directing their feelings outward, Grendel and the Creature display symptoms of conduct disorder, causing themselves to be trapped in a never ending cycle of violence. John, through directing his feelings inward, withdraws himself from society and becomes increasingly depressed as he realizes there is no one to share his outlook on life. Through no fault of their own, these characters are subjected to a lonely and miserable life.

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