Is his vision totally negative - or does Brave New World hold out some shred of hope, some alternative mode that fosters both freedom and community?Is his vision totally negative - or does Brave...
Is his vision totally negative - or does Brave New World hold out some shred of hope, some alternative mode that fosters both freedom and community?
In my opinion, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley offers no hope that society can be altered. I think Huxley wrote the book in part as a warning to the world to change course and heed his ominously prophetic warnings. Instead, Westernized nations have gone in the very direction Huxley wrote about in the book, published in 1932.
We have our own brands of soma in a variety of mood-altering pharmaceutical drugs to tranquilize and sedate. Indeed, if doctors do not prescribe these medicines, many people seek them out illegally.
America is heading the direction of social conditioning through education. The government now dictates standardized testing as a measurement of a school's success. As a result, we are reinforcing blandness and standardization. The county is not looking for individual potential and encouraging students and teachers to reach for those goals.
If John the Savage had lived in the novel, it might have suggested hope for society. In the resolution, John hangs himself. He has tried to educate others and develop their awareness, but they are willingly oblivious. He suffers ridicule when he isolates himself from society; John is nothing more than a night at the feelies, entertainment, more diversion from reality.
Bernard Marx offered some hope of social change. However, after he convinces John and his biological mother, Linda, to leave the reservation, he backs away from his freethinking ways when the experiment goes awry. Linda dies a soma-induced death, and John chooses his own final fate, the only option in a controlled, socially conditioned dystopia. Hope, indeed, dies with him.
I do not think that hope died with John. I'm not really convinced that John even represented hope for a better way of life. To me, John had serious problems and his character was meant to show us that going overboard in the other direction (from the way the society has gone overboard) is no better. John is just as damaged as anyone in the society and is not really a model for what anyone should be like.
To me, the hope for the future is in Helmholtz. Helmholtz is not a wild-eyed radical like John. Instead, he is a person who is much more rationally critical of his society. He does not kill himself and he does not fall apart the way Bernard does. We can imagine him going off to an island and working on ways to promote change in his society.
So, I think the fact that Helmholtz remains alive and strong in his convictions should give us some hope.
In line with the above post, after Bernard Marx is taken away in Chapter XVI, Mustapha Mond tells Helmholtz and John that Bernard should not have whimpered so when told that he is going to Iceland because
"...if he had the smallest sense, he'd understand that his punishment is really a reward....That's to say he's being sent to a place where he'll meet the most interesting set of men and women to be found anywhere in the world. All the people who, for one reason or another, have got too self-consciously individual to fit into the community-life. All the people who aren't satisfied with orthodoxy, who've got independent ideas of their own. Every one, in a word, who's any one. I almost envy you, Mr. Watson."
Perhaps, then, there will be enough individuals on the islands for a small society to begin.