Brave New World Themes

Themes

Among the foremost themes addressed in Brave New World is the question of freedom. Most of the characters in the world of the novel are neither mentally nor emotionally free to experience anything other than officially sanctioned ideas and values. There is no room for social or intellectual difference or rebellion, and those who do differ are either rehabilitated through mind and psychologically altering drugs, or if they appear too intransigent, they are shipped off to quarantine areas away from the general population in order to avoid any spread of their intellectual contamination.

Along with freedom, the inhabitants of the brave new world have also lost love, except in the most debased, physical way. The idea of emotional involvement is totally foreign to the controlled peoples who inhabit this book. The Savage, who is brought in from the outside and who is a member of a more primitive society and still feels emotional involvement, is soon also defeated. Along with love, feelings in general have been reduced to a minimal level, which with a general fear of new ideas, or any ideas, make the brave new worldians the perfect people for the new mass society. Huxley's examples here are a bit heavy-handed but make their point. This society is sterile in all senses of that word.

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Brave New World Themes

Brave New World is Huxley’s satirical look at a totalitarian society of the future, in which the trends of Huxley’s day have been taken to extremes. When an outsider encounters this world, he cannot accept its values and chooses to die rather than try to conform to this “brave new world.”

Free Will versus Enslavement
Only the Controllers of society, the ten elite rulers, have freedom of choice. Everyone else has been conditioned from the time they were embryos to accept unquestioningly all the values and beliefs of the carefully ordered society. Upper-class Alphas are allowed a little freedom because their higher intellect makes it harder for them to completely accept the rules of society. For example, they are occasionally allowed to travel to the Indian reservation to see how outsiders live. It is hoped that exposure to an “inferior” and “primitive” society will finally squelch any doubts about their own society’s superiority.

Beyond this, however, no room exists in “civilized” society for free will, creativity, imagination, or diversity, all of which can lead to conflict, war, and destruction. Therefore, dissidents who want these freedoms are exiled to remote corners of the earth. Anyone who feels upset for any reason quickly ingests a dose of the tranquilizer “soma.”

John the Savage believes that the price to be paid for harmony in this society is too great. He sees the people as enslaved, addicted to drugs, and weakened and dehumanized by their inability to handle delayed gratification or pain of any sort. He exercises his freedom of choice by killing himself rather than becoming a part of such a world.

Class Conflict
As a result of conditioning, class conflict has been eliminated in Huxley’s future world. The Controllers have decided there should be five social classes, from the superior, highly intelligent, and physically attractive Alphas—who have the most desirable and intellectually demanding jobs—to the inferior, mentally deficient, and physically unattractive Epsilons, who do the least desirable, menial jobs. Huxley makes the Alphas tall and fair and the Epsilons dark-skinned, reflecting the common prejudices at the time the novel was written. All people are genetically bred and conditioned from birth to be best adapted to the lives they will lead and to accept the class system wholeheartedly.

Members of different classes not only look physically different but wear distinctive colors to make sure that no one can be mistaken for a member of a different group. Here, Huxley points out the shallowness in our own society: members of different social classes dress differently in order to be associated with their own class. Only John the Savage can see people as they really are because he has not been conditioned to accept unquestioningly the rigid class structure. Thus, when he sees a dark-skinned person of a lower caste, he is reminded of Othello, a Shakespearean character who was both...

(The entire section is 1241 words.)