What philosophical content is in The Truman Show and how can it be connected with Brave New World?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Freedom and control are philosophical ideas in The Truman Show and Brave New World.

Freedom and its countervailing force of control are essential to Huxley's vision of the future and Weir's world of reality television. Both works explore freedom, its effect on human beings, and authority structures that seek to lessen freedoms. As a result, Brave New World and The Truman Show spend a great deal of time discussing the philosophical implications of freedom in the modern setting.

The authority structure in A Brave New World wants to limit human freedom in order to establish security and control. Controllers like Mustapha Mond see freedom as dangerous. They believe freedom needs to be channeled, controlled, and contained so it does not upset the natural order of the World State. Mond uses information access to ensure citizens' actions are coordinated. Mond reveals his attitude towards freedom when he says that "happiness is a hard master—particularly other people's happiness." For Mond and the other Controllers in the World State, freedom is secondary to "unquestioning." World State citizens have everything subject to control. For example, human interactions can only be expressed through sex. Emotional connection between human beings is unpredictable and cannot be tolerated. John cannot adjust to the level of control in this "brave new world" and falls victim to it. This level of control causes him to commit suicide. Huxley shows how human freedom contains different layers to it, and how these layers trigger authority's response.

The Truman Show reflects similar philosophical probing into the nature of freedom and control. As the architect of the show, Christof views control and design as more important than Truman's freedom. Truman's acceptance of "the conditions of the world" surrounding him is Christof's most important reality. Truman's happiness is coordinated. His behavior is charted and recorded. Sets are built, actors are hired, and scripts are written to ensure Truman's life makes for good television. Like Huxley's vision, Truman's emotional freedom is limited in order to provide a vision of happiness. This can be seen in Lauren's/ Sylvia's removal. The emotional unpredictability triggered by the love she and Truman share is deemed unacceptable. Truman's growth lies in his challenge to this structure. His freedom is only possible through its rejection. Like John, Truman confronts his architect/ captor. Unlike John, Truman finds his own happiness when he walks away from a world of social control.

Both works delve into personal freedom and the extent that authority structures will go to in order to limit it. Characters must confront the agonizing philosophical choice between the happiness of a controlling authority structure or in finding their own voice. The answers reveal philosophical content with profound implications for what we should do and how we shall live.

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Brave New World

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