How can I connect the book "Brave New World" to our world psychologically?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Motifs and themes of manipulation of human life, desensitization, and the dangers of a powerful government in Brave New World can be connected to American contemporary society.

  • Manipulation of human life

Conformity to others is a principle of life in both Huxley's dystopia and in modern society. Often Lenina repeats her conditioned idea that she is glad to be in the caste that she is, whereas the rebellious Bernard declares himself "enslaved" by his caste (Ch.6). Like the others in her world, Lenina finds nature abhorrent--It's this horrible place"--when Bernard wishes to be alone with her on their date, "with nothing but the sea and moon" (Ch.6). Likewise, in modern society people wear the latest fashions and choose name brands that comply with what others in their socio-economic class wear. Similarly, they frequent restaurants that are popular, purchase cars that are appropriate to their socio-economic class, and they keep up with the purchase of the latest technology. They are fixated upon materialism which distracts them from the realities of life and nature, just as are the denizens of the New World.

Much like the programming of the New World in which life is interpreted for the population, the various forms of media in contemporary society often present an interpretation of political actions and ideas and what is acceptable behavior. (One needs only to watch/listen to different networks to notice the different interpretations of events, speeches, etc.) Normal behavior is often influenced by forms of the media; for instance, "casual sex" that was considered immoral in the 1950's in America, is nowadays presented in sitcoms or movies as either humorous or acceptable.  

  • Desensitization

The controllers of the society of the New World issue soma or even spray it upon people, as in Chapter 15 when the Deltas become out of control.  As is done by many in contemporary society, drugs are taken to relieve depression and stress. Similarly, Lenina takes soma when she is overwrought after arriving at the Reservation.  

  • The Dangers of the Powerful Central Government

In the New World, people's lives are controlled by the State from birth to death. They are conditioned from birth through the use of hypnopoedia. Only Bernard Marx and Helmholtz Watson "share...the knowledge that they are individuals" (Ch.4). The others are completely programmed in their thinking and actions because books and natural experiences which would stimulate individual thought have been eliminated. Ideas such as "everyone belongs to everyone else"(Ch.3) which Lenina repeats are taught to children, and they are desensitized to romance or love through "the ordinary erotic play" (Ch.3) of children who run around playing with each other in their nakedness.

In contemporary society, government exerts controls over people's lives through various agencies such as the Department of Education and the Internal Revenue Service; today there are more and more regulations for private businesses, etc. Even behavior and speech at places of employment must conform to labor relations and political correctness.

 

 

  

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial