Both Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 portray hedonistic societies. The inhabitants of both societies seek to enjoy themselves for as much of the time as possible, however only citizens in Brave New World are truly happy. This leads to the conclusion that humans can never be truly happy, according to the authors, as their natural selves.
The people in Brave New World enjoy themselves with promiscuous sex, complicated sports, movies called feelies that engage all the senses, and excessive use of the mind-altering drug called soma. Their schedules are always full. A Controller relates the workings of society to some adolescent boys, telling them happily that “the old men work, the old men copulate, the old men have no time, no leisure from pleasure, not a moment to sit down and think—or if ever by some unlucky chance such a crevice of time should yawn in the solid substance of their distractions, there is always soma” (Huxley 67). When they are awake they are working or playing sports with coworkers, during the nights they attend the feelies and the parties and go home with someone to have sex with. The people are conditioned to never want to be alone, to always be engaged, never thinking further than what their job requires. For the people whose jobs require little or no thinking, special castes are created with alcohol added to the brains, destroying cognitive functions.
The hedonism portrayed in Fahrenheit 451 tends to be darker. People drive cars as fast as they can to get a sense of speed, regardless of who or what they may run into. The fun houses that people go to have “games” such as the window smasher, playing into ...
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...tory system until the person can no longer breathe. The overdoses of soma are few and far between however, the Brave New World society appearing to genuinely believe in its happiness and the suicide rate being correspondingly very low in contrast to the nightly attempts in Fahrenheit 451.
The majority of the aspects in the two hedonistic societies are equivalent. Conditioning the minds of the population appears to prove far superior to motivating them with fear. In Brave New World the only ones who are unhappy are those who do not respond to the conditioning, who do not receive conditioning, and those who are separated from society. No one is truly happy in the society of Fahrenheit 451.
Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. New York: The Ballentine Publishing Group, 1953.
Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. Garden City, NY: Country Life Press, 1929.
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