One of the best ways to explain conformity in context of Brave New World is to look at the drug soma. Soma is encouraged and used by all people of the “World State” when they are having feelings that aren’t happy or enjoyable. This allows them to free themselves from ever having to feel pain, sadness, or any feeling they see as “bad.” All people are encouraged to take it and by doing so, are conforming to the larger group. It gives the user a false happiness. Bernard feels that by following this norm goes against his personal morals. He does not see the benefits from it since they are only temporary.
Soma in their world is much like any other recreational drug in our society that gives the user a feeling of elated happiness. I feel that this has been realized in our own society to a great extent. We have so many drugs at our disposal to take whenever we want to make us feel better. Some are as simple as a mild pain reliever such as Tylenol while others are stronger, and illegal, such as heroin, meth, and cocaine. The illegal drugs are the closest to the effect that soma has in Brave New World. However, the government definitely does not endorse or condone taking them. In fact, being found in possession of them will lead to harsh consequences such as long term jail sentencing as...
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... all the time, it is hard to imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to do the same.
So conformity not only causes people to behave in ways around people that is socially acceptable, it also can cause people to want to avoid people altogether. Conformity is a powerful tool used by a society to cause people to react and behave in ways that are either what is the most accepted way of doing something, or in a way that the ruling body wants in order to keep people under their control. It can have positive effects on a culture as well as negative ones, depending on the nature of the action and to the extent it is done. Brave New World warns us of what could happen if we allow ourselves to be controlled like puppets and become content with a static population.
Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2006. Print.
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