Today, in 21st century United States, people are concerned with the fast pace of new and growing technology, and how these advances should be used. In the last decade alone we have seen major advancements in technology; in science, cloning has become a reality, newer, more powerful drugs have been invented and, in communications, the Internet has dominated society. There is a cultural lag due to the fast rate of increasing technology, and while the governments of the world are trying to keep up their role as censors and lawmakers, we as individuals are trying to comprehend the effects it has on our lives. Will these advances enhance our lives to an unprecedented level of comfort, or lead to the loss of actual happiness? In the early 1930's, when Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World, this was a question he felt was worth asking.
In Huxley's Brave New World there are two forms of happiness: physical and actual. The fulfillment of physical happiness is the basis of the New World society. Residents never have to worry about food, shelter, job security, or sickness. One will never look fat, wrinkly or become weak with brittle bones and, thus, even the fear of growing old is taken away. Mustapha Mond, one of the world controllers in the novel, sums up physical happiness with the statement: ?The world is stable now?They?re well off; They?re safe; They are never ill; they?re not afraid of death; they?re blissfully ignorant of passion and old age??(Huxley 220). The characters, Bernard Marx, Lenina Crowne, and Helmholtz Watson are each looking for more than what is offered by physical happiness, they are looking for actual happiness. Actual happiness ?relates more to the mind and heart? (HH Dalai Lama 21). For example, Helmholtz has the desire to be creative and Lenina has the desire to love. Bernard Marx, knowing that he is different and considered inferior to other Alpha-plus males, has the desire to not only fit in, but to be respected by others. Other individuals in the Brave New World are content while these three characters are searching for something not given to them by the government, something beyond physical happiness. They are searching for actual happiness.
Individuality, which is one of the strongest values in the United States today, is taken away at the moment of conception in the B...
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...e a prophetic tone seventy years after it was written. Our society?s priorities, like the one in the Brave New World, seem to be quite shallow in its obsession with physical appearance and conspicuous consumption of material objects. People undergo surgery to improve their appearance and maintain their youthful image of themselves. People, generally, judge others as well as themselves by their possessions, status, and appearance, rather than the quality of their character. Cloning is no longer science fiction, and with increasing technology, the absolute need for mothers and fathers could disappear.
At what point does social stability outweigh human nature? There needs to be a balance between physical and actual happiness, and where the proper balance should be is questionable. Huxley doesn?t have the answer, but he leaves the reader with an idea of why balance is so hard to find: ?Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery? (Huxley 221).
Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. New York: HarperCollins, 1998.
Lama, HH Dalai. The Art of Happiness. London: Hoddler and Straughton, 1999.
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