What is the main conflict in Brave New World?Aldous Huxley's Brave New World

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is a novel that is about a scientific utopia, an ideal state in which everything is done for the good of the society, where evils such as war and poverty cannot exist.  However, the conflict arises when the technology of the New World fails to satisfy the needs and wants of its members.  It fails because it denies the active mind of the individual.  Individual freedom, and human emotions are denied in the New World, and for those individuals such as Bernard Marx, Helmholtz Watson, and John the Savage, there are conflicts with their insistence upon individual expression and the control of Mustapha Mond.

The central conflict lies between John the Savage whom Bernard Marx brings from the savages' Reservation and the New World.  As a representative of humans as they once were before babies were "decanted," John does not understand the lack of literature and the arts; nor, does he understand that "everyone belongs to everyone else"--the promiscuity of the New World.  In general, the dehumanization of the residents of the New World who engage in gratuitous sex and who are repulsed by death and who escape any troubling feelings by using soma troubles him.

This conflict of John the Savage with the New World represents the larger conflict of humanity vs. scientific technolgy, a struggle which man appears to be losing.  Huxley himself wrote that the theme of Brave New World

is not the advancement of science as such; it is the advancement of science as it affect human individuals [because]....It is only by means of the sciences of life that the quality of life can be radically changed.  The sciences of matter can be applied in such a way that they will destroy life or make the living of it impossibly complex and uncomfortable....This really revolutionary revolution is to be achieved, not in the external world, but in the souls and flesh of human beings.

John the Savage fights to retain his freedom to feel emotions, to suffer, to age, to fail; in short, he struggles to remain human.  For,he realizes that he will no longer be a real man if he becomes socially stable in the New World because this stability depends upon soma, and orgy-porgies, and his relinquishing of individual thought.

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