Essay, Research Paper: Brave New World And 1984

Literature: George Orwell

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Although many similarities exist between Aldous Huxley's A Brave New World and
George Orwell's 1984, the works books though they deal with similar topics, are
more dissimilar than alike. A Brave New World is a novel about the struggle of
Bernard Marx, who rejects the tenants of his society when he discovers that he
is not truly happy. 1984 is the story of Winston who finds forbidden love within
the hypocrisy of his society. In both cases, the main character is in quiet
rebellion against his government which is eventually found to be in vain. Huxley
wrote A Brave New World in the third person so that the reader could be allotted
a more comprehensive view of the activities he presents. His characters are
shallow and cartoon-like (Astrachan) in order to better reflect the society in
which they are entrapped. In this society traditional notions of love and what
ideally should come out of it have long been disregarded and are now despised,
"Mother, monogamy, romance. High spurts the fountain; fierce and foamy the
wild jet. The urge has but a single outlet." (Huxley 41) The comparison to
a wild jet is intended to demonstrate the inherent dangers in these activities.
Many of the Brave New World's social norms are intended to 'save' its citizens
from anything unpleasant through depriving them of the opportunity to miss
anything overly pleasant. The society values, ACOMMUNITY, IDENTITY,
STABILITY," (Huxley 1) supersede all else in a collective effort. Soma, the
magical ultimate drug is what keeps the population from revolting. "What
you need is a gramme of soma... All the advantages of Christianity and alcohol;
none of their defects." The drug is at the forefront of their daily lives
providing freedom Superczynski 2 from life's every ill. "The word comes
from the Sanskrit language of ancient India. It means both an intoxicating drink
used in the old Vedic religious rituals there and the plant from whose juice the
drink was made- a plant whose true identity we don't know." (Astrachan) The
drug is used as a form of recreation, like sex, and its use is encouraged at any
opportunity, especially when great emotions begin to arise. They are conditioned
to accept this to calm and pacify them should they begin to feel anything too
intensely. The conditioning also provides them with their place and prevents
them from participating in social activities which they needn't take part in.
(Smith) Class consciousness which Americans are so reluctant to acknowledge is
taught through hypnopжdia (the repetition of phrases during sleep akin to
post hypnotic suggestion) for all social classes: These names are letters in the
Greek alphabet, familiar to Huxley's original English readers because in English
schools they are used as grades- like our As, Bs, etc.- with Alpha plus the best
and Epsilon minus the worst. In Brave New World, each names a class or caste.
Alphas and Betas remain individuals; only Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons are
bokanovskified. (Astrachan) The conditioning is begun at an extremely young age
and is by modern real-world standards cruel, AThe screaming of the babies
suddenly changed its tone. There was something desperate, almost insane, about
the sharp spasmodic yelps to which they now gave utterance." (Huxley 20)
The children's "Pavlovian" conditioning with electric shocks is later
compared to the wax seals which used to grace the seams of letters (Astrachan),
"Not so much like drops of water, though water, it is true, can wear holes
in the hardest granite; rather, drops of liquid sealing-wax, drops that adhere,
incrust, incorporate themselves with what they fall on, till finally the rock is
all one scarlet blob." The entire society is conditioned to shrink away
from intense emotion, engage in casual sex, and take their pacifying Soma. In
1984, a first-person book partly narrated by the main character's internal
dialogue, the great party leader is "Big Brother," a fictional
character who is somewhat more imposing than "Ford," of Huxley's book,
named after the industrialist Henry Ford (Astrachan). The main character
Superczynski 3 Winston fears Big Brother and is much more aware of his situation
than any of the characters in A Brave New World who are constantly pacified by
soma. In A Brave New World history is ignored completely whereas in 1984 it is
literally rewritten in order to suit the present. The role of science in both
books is extensive and complicated. 1984's telescreens cannot be turned off, as
A Brave New World has "feelies," an advancement on "talkies"
which added sound, "feelies" add tactile senses to a movie as well.
Science and human progress is not acknowledged in A Brave New World (Smith)
excepting when it increases consumption, whereas it is twisted with ironic
titles in 1984, "They were homes of the four Ministries between which the
entire apparatus of government was divided: the Ministry of Truth, which
concerned itself with news, entertainment, education, and the fine arts; the
Ministry of Peace, which concerned itself with war; the Ministry of Love, which
maintained law and order; and the Ministry of Plenty, which was responsible for
economic affairs. Their names in Newspeak: Minitrue, Minipax, Miniluv, and
Miniplenty." (Orwell 8) The God (Ford) of A Brave New World encourages
production and consumption of shallow objects to complement the shallow minds of
its citizens. 1984 was written as a warning against the results of having a
totalitarian state. Winston bears the blunt of his mistakes, the crime of
individuality and dissention. A Brave New World is as much a satire on the
reality of today (the reality of Huxley's day) as it is a novel about the
future. ANeil Postman ...warned Awhen a population becomes distracted by trivia,
when cultural life is defined a s a perpetual round of entertainments, when
serious public conversation becomes a form of baby talk, a people become an
audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself
at risk; cultural death is a clear possibility.(Kruk) Huxley seems to feel that
society is progressing toward a materialistic and superficial end, in which all
things of real value, including the relationships which make people human, will
be quashed. The two works vary greatly, A Brave New World is the Huxley's
expression of fear that mankind will create a utopia by way of foregoing all
that makes life worthwhile. Orwell's work rings more sharply of secret police
paranoia. Indeed, Winston is taken to room 101, while Superczynski 4 Bernard is
merely transferred to an uncomfortable location. The hypocrisy is much more
evident within A Brave New World as well, owing to the controller's having had a
son. Both books forewarn of a day when humankind might fall slave to its own
concept of how others should act. The two books ask not whether societies with
stability, pacification, and uniformity can be created, but whether or not they
are worth creating. It is so often that one wants something and in wanting
romanticizes it, thus bringing disappointment when the end is finally obtained.
They serve as a reminder that it is necessary to have pain to compare with joy,
defeat to compare with victory, and problems in order to have solutions. Both
books end on negative notes; Bernard is exiled to work in Iceland and Winston is
subjected to psychological treatment.
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