To write a research paper on Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, what are ways in which one might respond to and write a thesis based on the instructor's assigned topic: Aldous Huxley (does or does...

To write a research paper on Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, what are ways in which one might respond to and write a thesis based on the instructor's assigned topic:

Aldous Huxley (does or does not) accurately portray the facets of totalitarianism through its direct control and manipulation over the citizens' lives.

What are ways in which Huxley's novel can be attacked as an accurate portrayal of totalitarianism?

How can research be used to back up the argument?

1 Answer

tamarakh's profile pic

Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

One possible stance you can take for your thesis is to say that since Aldous Huxley's Brave New World is satire; it does not nor did he intend for it to accurately portray all of the facets of totalitarianism through direct control and manipulation of citizens.

Satire is the use of "humor, irony, exaggeration or ridicule" to "expose and criticize foolishness and corruption of an individual or society" (Literary Devices, "Satire"). Huxley particularly employs satire to point out the ridiculousness of governments' manipulation of its people. He employs satire by first creating a society in which infants are pumped full of drugs and chemicals to suppress intelligence, and human beings are conditioned to the extent that all thoughts and feelings are suppressed and even the feeling of happiness is artificially induced. Then he employs satire by creating ridiculous dialogue. In the eyes of the governors of the society, the purpose of such control is to create "happy" people. Huxley is using satire to point out the ridiculousness of such a society, and that happiness can't truly be experienced without freedom: freedom to suffer, freedom to learn, freedom to grow. Scholar Rebecca Johnson points out that Huxley's use of satire is particularly expressed in Chapter 16 when John the Savage is engaging in dialogue with World Controller Mustapha Mond. John expresses Huxley's view of how pathetic it is to live in artificial happiness. Mond defends his society's decision to choose having happiness over having free will:

But that's the price we have to pay for stability. You've got to choose between happiness and what people used to call high art. We've sacrificed the high art. (as cited in "The Use of Satire in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World")

In speaking of "high art," Mond is referring to never again having the ability to write something like Shakespeare's Othello because their society's humanity no longer has the ability to understand the emotions tied in with the themes of the play. Their society has sacrificed the freedom to have other emotions for the ability to be artificially happy. Other comedy can be seen all throughout the novel, and helps depict the novel as satire.

Hence, since the novel is satire and depicts an artificially happy dystopian society, it can be said it does not and did not intend to capture the horrific realities of true totalitarian societies, like the societies we saw under Adolf Hitler's and Joseph Stalin's regimes.

One terrible thing we know about Hitler's Nazi regime that can both be related to Huxley's dystopian society and used to prove the above thesis is that German children were forced to enroll in youth groups, starting at the age of 10 and lasting until the age of 18. The purpose of these youth groups was to brainwash the children with the "ideas and practices of Nazism" ("The Hitler Youth: Sons of the Fuhrer"). In so doing, Hitler created a generation who knew "nothing but the glorification of Hitler and Germany"; plus, they were taught the work ethic needed to program the generation to be "selflessly devoted to Hitler" and his regime ("The Hitler Youth"). Stalin, too, used propaganda to brainwash citizens into support of his totalitarian communist regime and, like Hitler, initiated a bloody massacre called the Great Terror, or "Stalin's Terror," to eliminate any so-called traitors ("Joseph Stalin"; "Of Russian Origin: Stalin's Purges"). Any research related to the above would help you prove Huxley's book is only satire and doesn't portray the true horrors of a totalitarian society.

Hence, Huxley's dystopian society is a much lighter, gayer version of true totalitarian societies because he chose to satirize such societies and in so doing left out the number of murders such societies can be guilty of.


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bethanli5678's profile pic

bethanli5678 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

So for my general argument does this work?: the author's depiction is not particularly accurate, despite the grisly methods of manipulation(people are controlled, economically, socially and even sexually by the government) presented in the novel, as their is still a gay conception of totalitarianism since the citizens are happy due to a false happiness. Huxley uses satire, and so that is why I am critiquing the legitimacy of the author's depictions- does this make sense?(But I don't know any original and good ways to attack the author's depictions)

I am having trouble researching, do you know what I can type into my search engine(I am thinking of using the Soviet Union in Russia,  the Third Reich in Germany, and military rule in Argentina in late 20th century-this is the topic I am most struggling with) and would you mind also providing me with some if that is not too much trouble?

Also, do you know why Huxley purposefully created a misconstrued perception on totalitarianism? What does it allow his characters to do or what does it add to the plot? I am attempting to write a paragraph on his motives behind his depictions of totalitarian perspectives. Is this lack of legitimacy atrocious and should I sound very disgusted by the lack of accuracy in my paper?(I am having trouble explaining what is affected). Lastly, what other two points should I critique on in the legitimacy of the actual novel other than what I have so far(the fact that the government still attempts to instil happiness despite the torture, where in history life is extremely despondent and horrible)?

Thank you for your time and efforts, I really appreciate it as I am running short of time- its due next week!