What is the main conflict in Brave New World?

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The main conflict in Brave New World is between technology and the people who live in what is supposed to be a scientific utopia. Although technology is supposed to satisfy everyone's needs and desires, it's abundantly clear that it can do no such thing. For people like Bernard and John the Savage, no amount of technological sophistication can possibly satisfy their desire for freedom and exercising independent thought.

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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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As in many works of dystopian science fiction, the main conflict in Brave New World is that between technology and human needs. Although technology is supposed to satisfy everyone's needs and to provide everything that anyone might conceivably desire, it is patently obvious that the reality falls far short of the ideal.

This is because no degree of technological sophistication can possibly compensate for the lack of individual freedom, both political and intellectual, in this dystopian society. Technology is supposed to liberate people and to give them a better life by freeing them from all manner of cares and wants. But in reality, it is used to keep people in a state of subordination.

To the likes of Bernard and John the Savage, this is intolerable. They need to be able to think for themselves, to exercise their freedom as human beings. Such freedom is not available in the New World, where the population has been dehumanized by technology, most notably by the latest developments in pharmaceuticals.

It is due to technological advances that soma has been developed. This is a powerful drug that is designed to banish any residual unhappiness. But, of course, it cannot do this—at least not completely—because it is unable to satisfy the yearnings of the human soul for the kind of freedom and self-expression notable by its absence from the New World.

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