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The citizens in the novel have been conditioned by the state ever since they were embryos. The state has manipulated every single aspect of development of these new babies, therefore, giving them every chance to build a “perfect” society. During the conditioning of these babies, the state got rid of mental pain altogether. These babies have no idea what pain actually is. However, you can ban the knowledge of pain, but you cannot ban the conditions that cause it. In the case of Bernard Marx, this condition came in the form of harassment about his physical appearance; and for Helmholtz Watson, it was finding life and work meaningless. These conditions are uncontrollable by any external force, and no matter how hard the state tries to eliminate the causes of pain, for example, making everyone look the same and fill the lives of these people with materialistic processions, it still does not account for one or two odd individuals.
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One of the first things I noticed when I started to read the novel is that this new society is quite stupid, and extremely immature. From what I can gather, this is a result of the state trying to eliminate opposition, which can cause social instability. For example, this quote by the director of the fertilizing center is the representing attitude of the state, "Just to give you a general idea," he would explain to them. For of course some sort of general idea they must have, if they were to do their work intelligently–though as little of one, if they were to be good and happy members of society, as possible. For particulars, as every one knows, make for virtue and happiness; generalities are intellectually necessary evils. Not philosophers but fret-sawyers and stamp collectors compose the backbone of society.” This also had another effect on the society, the dimwitted individuals are much happier that those who are have more brainpower. For example, Helmholtz, and Bernard are two individuals that have express an intelligence level that is greater than the average citizen, but they both have experience mental pain. On the other hand, Lenina, who is rather obtuse, enjoys her life perfectly. This is very reasonable, for better or for worst, people that are considered to be intelligent think, and often over think. In the case of Bernard and Helmholtz, they slowly begin to wonder about their meaning in life. This is not encouraged by the sate or taught during conditioning, and we see that only the intelligent ones feels that they need more. This can lead to unhappiness quite easily as the individuals gradually becomes more unsatisfied. In our society today, these thought are very common, but since we have the freedom of speech, we are able to talk about it openly, either with a psychologist, or a friend who can make us feel better. However, the society in the Brave New World is a very restrictive about voicing your issues, causing these feelings to be confined to the individuals, which can lead to depression. On the other hand, characters like Lenina, who lives a simple life of work, play and lust, just does not have these sorts of trouble. I think I am really torn on this subject. It is very desirable to live in a state of mind that is so carefree, however, what is the point of living a pointless life? I think this is a factor of happiness that really depends on the individual, and they have the ability to choose which ever they want, and not be decided by the state.
Happiness is hard to obtain, even when you live in complete freedom. However, it is achievable with no freedom. It really depends on the individual’s point on life, and how they interact with it. If you can sit around doing drugs all day and be happy about your life, then it is your choice. Others want meaning and purpose to this one life that we have to live, and if they can be happy after they have found this purpose, by all means, do it. Even if the individuals of brave new world are loveless, unintelligent, or afraid of emotion, all because of a enforced societal norm created by an all powerful state, they can still find happiness in their own right.