Social Illusion VS Natural Reality: King Lear and Brave New World
In both the play King Lear by William Shakespeare and the novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, the authors contrast social illusion with natural reality to reveal humanity’s mistake in believing that civilization aids the savages.
In both King Lear and Brave New World, the authors share the idea of social illusion in conflict with the natural reality. This is evident in King Lear when Lear, Kent, the Fool and Edgar take shelter in a hovel and Lear starts to question the creation of humanity:
man no more than this? Consider him well. Thou owest
the worm no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep no wool,
the cat no perfume. Ha! Here’s three on’s are sophisti-
cated! Thou art then thing itself; unaccommodated man
is no more but such a poor, bare, forked animal as thou
Lear begins to realize the fact that underneath the expensive clothes, there is a weak human being like any other. People in the society are judged and given a higher position based on how much luxury they have rather than for what they are. On the other side, regardless of how wealthy and powerful one is, one cannot escape from natural causes such as death. This reveals that even though there are boundaries between rich and poor people, they are all the same when it comes to issues like old, diseases and death. Hence, titles and clothes are the social illusions that separate humans in the name of the value and importance. Society also considers people with torn or poor clothes to be unimportant, while the ones with expensive clothes are considered valuable. The Fool calls Lear “fool” because the Fool clearly sees that Lear has lost his power. This is eviden...
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...ween the beds, [clamber] over, [crawl] under, [peep] into the television boxes….’ (Huxley 201). The use of animalistic words to describe the children is to reveal the savagery of the World State citizens. In a similar way, Lear also uses animal imagery to describe his two daughters as savages. Therefore, the motif of social illusion and the natural reality is used to develop the fact that the World State is a dystopia and that their citizens are really the savages.
In conclusion, in both the texts the authors contrast social illusion with natural reality. It becomes apparent that civilization is not everything it claims to be; civilization is not superior to what many refer to as “savagery”. In fact, many aspects of civilization are dehumanizing and cruel. The distinction between the civilized and the savage is false according to both Shakespeare and Huxley.
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