A dystopia wherein all the citizens are forever happy and content, —can it even be called a dystopia? This is the theme that Huxley plays with throughout the novel Brave New World. Unlike other totalitarian novels, here, stability is achieved by deluding the citizens from reality and drugging them into happiness. Promiscuity is the norm, families no longer exist, and children are reared in large factories where they are conditioned by birth to love their drudgery and hate nature and books.
All citizens are satisfied, thanks to Soma– a hallucinatory euphoria inducing drug available on demand. It is only Bernard Marx, (a brilliantly done anti-hero) who feels ill at ease. And it is through this dissatisfaction that the plot is kickstarted. He has to struggle to not give in to this morally corrupt world and be true to himself.
Huxley paints a vivid portrait of his world, describing it with harrowing detail. It doesn’t sound so bad, when the governments agenda is only to keep the people happy and be mindless consumers, does it? It is only as Huxley walks us through what the people lose and are ignorant of, in order to attain that everlasting state of bliss, when we marvel at the sheer brilliance of the premise.
Far away in America the old way of life continues of which John (the main character) is a part. John, coming from very unique circumstances, is very derisive of the civilized life. He is often extreme in his actions and character, very much in stark contrast to the world, to the point of being unreasonable.
While reading this book, I came face to face with life’s greatest questions of which Huxley does an impeccable job of answering. As I read, my carapace of long held beliefs and accepted norms and values was slowly ripped away in short painful successions. By making bold statements about how a life should be lived (through each character’s point of view) Huxley mercilessly uproots the dormant thoughts of existentialism, musings on the meaning of suffering, traces of nihilism and the subsequent allure of hedonism that reeked in the attic of the mind and brings them to limelight.
Through the fleshed-out characters, all these ideologies struggle against each other and within me,— each character representing a different school of thought.
Though it seems blatant what Huxley himself stands for, he nevertheless presents meritorious arguments both for and against his ‘brave new world’ solely through his characters. At one point, it had me considering whether I would want to inhabit this world instead of immediately dismissing it as vile.
The society is not a blatant dystopia which is what makes it so compelling and haunts you days after reading it. There are no uprisings, no unrest, all people are happy.
The book had me hooked for the themes it explored more so than the story itself. But there is still enough suspense and conflict to keep you going.
Tara is a senior in high school residing in India. Her favorite form in writing is fiction but she’s currently exploring creative nonfiction and hopes to dive into poetry sometime in the future as well.