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Give a critical analysis of Aldous Huxley.

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jakande | Student, Undergraduate | Valedictorian

Posted September 12, 2013 at 5:49 PM via web

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Give a critical analysis of Aldous Huxley.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 13, 2013 at 5:45 AM (Answer #1)

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It is interesting to reflect that in spite of the way that Huxley is now so much a part of many curricula, when his work was first published it was often banned from appearing in schools and also some libraries. In many ways, Brave New World is of course Huxley's seminal work, and it serves to highlight the major themes that Huxley was interested in and sought to explore through his writing. This novel, although highly ironic and humorous in tone, actually disguises a nightmare dystopia where humans have lost all ability to decide their own destiny through luxuries and drug-induced stupour. Genetic engineering has advanced to such an extent that everybody is born into a certain role in their life to fulfill without any opportunity to decide what kind of life they would like to have. In addition, characters are sexually pomiscuous, which is why this novel was banned. Note how Mustapha Mond describes our world today, which of course bears no resemblance whatsoever to this "brave new world":

Mother, monogamy, romance. High spurts the fountain; fierce and foamy the wild jet. The urge has but a single outlet. My love, my baby. No wonder those poor pre-moderns were mad and wicked and miserable. Their world didn’t allow them to take things easily, didn’t allow them to be sane, virtuous, happy. What with mothers and lovers, what with the prohibitions they were not conditioned to obey, what with the temptations and the lonely remorses, what with all the diseases and the endless isolating pain, what with the uncertainties and the poverty—they were forced to feel strongly. And feeling strongly (and strongly, what was more, in solitude, in hopelessly individual isolation), how could they be stable?

It is precisely humanity's ability to "feel strongly" that has been erased in this novel, which makes it so terrifying, as humans have been reduced to mere automatons, and animal-like creatures, ensuring that their urges for drugs and sex are met. Note how Mond reduces our lives to three simple words: "Mother, monogamy, romance." It is of course these three words that John, the so-called "savage," tries to live his life by. Huxley's other works feature such themes in addition to exploring other related concerns. For example, Ape and Essence presents another dystopia, but this time depicting a world where individualism has been taken to extremes. In The Doors of Perception, he promotes the use of drugs, arguing that they allow the user to transcend the limitations of human life and engage with mysticism. His work therefore has contributed greatly to the understanding of dystopia and the human condition, but also to the topic of mysticism and drug use. 

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