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Thomas More’s Utopia, is a small island where there is no greed or crime. The inhabitants of this island live as equals, no one does more work than another person and everyone feels secure with their place in society. By abolishing money and private property, More would rid society of greed and social ambition. Most of all, he wants to curtail pride, the evil he believes is at the root of all evils -- "the infernal serpent that steals into the hearts of men, thwarting and holding them back from choosing the better way of life." Likewise, in Aldus Huxley’s Brave New World, crime and greed have been eliminated and everybody is satisfied with their social status. This similarity between the two novels suggests that the authors may have seen a link between social status and crime. Indeed, in western civilization, it is evident through statistics that a large amount of crime takes place amongst the lower class. Both authors saw that by eliminating the self pity and jealousy that comes with a lower social status, they would also be eliminating the crime and greed that comes with it.
In order to maintain a society free of social inequality both authors set up a civilization based on strict societal structure. In More’s Utopia, a system was set up so that all work was completed.
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In order to maintain the social control that both novels posses, it is necessary to separate themselves from the ways of the past society. In Utopia, the king had the earth that connected them to land dug, in order to become the secluded island that they are. In Brave New World, people who still lived by the way of the past were retained on reservations. These people, “savages,” were surrounded by electric fences. Members from the new society had to obtain a pass that was seldom given out in order to get into the reservation. Separating the new societies was essential, which we see in both novels when the new society meets with the inhabitants of the old.
Although there are many similarities between the two novels, the differences are much more apparent. In Brave New World, feelings of love have been eliminated. These feelings, have been eradicated through ingenious methods, with the use of science and technology. In the World State, the children are trained from the moment they are created, to have few emotions in life. The government in the World State understands that emotions are a dangerous thing to have; therefore, they have concluded that the best way of maintaining social stability is by brainwashing the population. The government downplays the importance of sex by not only encouraging but enforcing multiple partners. No one is allowed to “have” the same person for very long. If someone has been “having” only one person for a month the controllers are notified and the couple is forced to “have” other people. The Controllers reasons for eradicating love is simple, love and loyalty tend to cause people to be loyal to someone , other then their country or government. Love is also distracting, and would disrupt the carefully structured balance of the society. Unlike Brave New World, Utopians aim at trying to preserve love between the partners in a marriage. Slavery is sentenced upon those that have disgraced their marriage, the guilty are made infamous, and never allowed to marry again. In Utopia, love is by far one of the societies most profound feelings. The society in Utopia feels that love, and marriage is very important parts of their society. The citizens of Utopia try and maintain and even increase the importance of love, instead of trying to erase or eradicate love. Marriage is one of the most important events to Utopians. When someone is serving time as a slave, they lose all their rights, except for marriage (love), which is to the Utopians, an important right. Utopians are not allowed to engage in sexual intercourse before they are married. Attempted seduction is treated just the same, and no less of a crime then seduction. This shows the absolute importance of love to the Utopians. Their women are not married before eighteen, nor their men before two-and-twenty if earlier, punishment will be warranted. Utopians enforce strict laws upon marriage simply because marriage, which is symbolic of love, is important to them. Utopians enforce a strict minimum age for marriage, so that love will be honored and respected amongst members in a marriage. Divorce is forbidden, but in certain cases, if there is no other choice, they may receive a royal pardon from the Prince. The reasons for forbidding divorce in a marriage is simply because love is of utmost importance to Utopians.
Another difference in the two societies is religion. The people of Utopia are free to worship any God they chose. There are many different forms of religion throughout the island, and in the different cities as well. Some Utopians worship the moon, some the stars and still others the planets. A vast majority of the Utopians worship one man and they call him the Father. Although different people define him differently, there is still the shared belief that origin is the work of one man. In contrast, The Controllers of Brave New World have decided that everyone must believe in the same religion, but this is not a religion that western culture could understand, it is not a religion worshipping a God, it is the worship of technology. God has been replaced by science and technology as a source substance and meaning in life. As a consequence the words “Christ” and “God” are replaced with “Ford.” This is done because Huxley believed that the shift in emphasis from God to technology occurred, to a large extent, with Henry Ford’s introduction of the Model-T.1 Instead of using the Christian calendar this date is used as the opening date of a new era; the date is After Ford (A.F.) 632. This shift in importance is symbolized by substituting the Christian Cross with the Ford T.
Finally though the two societies both have a strict societal structure with work as the premise, the bases of the structures could not be more different. In Utopian culture people work to benefit the community. The end result of this action is the benefit of each individual. The idealistic thinking of benefiting others as opposed to yourself is what separates Utopian Society. In Utopia, a man knows that he and his family will be sufficiently provided for as long as public stores are full. His main concern will be to help fill the public stores. With this action, he is benefiting the entire community. "Agriculture is the one occupation at which everyone works,
men and women alike, with no exceptions." The equality within Utopia is part of the foundation of the society which help accomplish the goals of work. Also, everybody works at a productive trade, and the result is that they get the work done in a six hour work day. "Their working hours are ample to provide not only enough but more than enough of the necessities and even the conveniences of life." Whether it be food, supplies, road conditions, or any other improvement of lifestyle, the amount and setup of work in the society can provide for all these. Because everyone contributes, the amount of work required, per person, is small. "In several of the necessary crafts, their way of life requires less total labor than does that of people elsewhere."
In Brave New World, The diversity of social functions within a society is dealt with by the creation of five different classes - Alpha, Beta and so on. There is no friction between the classes however because they are conditioned through sleep teaching to grow up thinking that their genetic inheritance and social positions are ideal. Those in the upper levels of the intellectual strata do not resent their inferiors who they give orders to and those who observe others in a superior position pity their superiors because they carry the encumbrance of responsibility that their position frees them from. The goal of all conditioning is, as the Director of Hatcheries is to make “people like their inescapable social destiny.” In order to uphold a state of social stability various methods of social control are used. After birth each person goes through a process of “conditioning” that makes them eagerly seek the pleasures of sex and sport and fearfully avoid non-social activities that isolate people from each other. Children of the lower caste are conditioned to not like books because they have no practical use for them in their lives. Children learn to fear activities that have no function to their position in the planned state. No citizen is able to express opinions or judgments of their own because this would disrupt the uniformity that exists throughout the life cycle. A child’s entire mind is shaped by the state; their IQ, education, morals and class awareness. This is done through a process called hypnodaedia; where lessons are repeated several times while the children are asleep, throughout the course of their childhood. The lessons that each child receives in their sleep form the mind of the adult that they become.
Both novels have transcended contemporary problems in society , they both have a structured, work based civilization and both have separated themselves from the ways of past society. But the novels differ in their views of love, religion, and the way to eliminate social classes. It can be said that some of the differences stem from the different time periods. More wrote his book before the Scientific Revolution, before industrialization, Huxley's comes after. In the 16th century, England was still a predominantly agricultural nation, which is reflected in More's ideal society, where all people work on the land for at least part of their lives. By the 1930s, when Brave New World was written, work had become increasingly routine and dehumanizing; people had become slaves to machines. But one must also make note of the fact that when Huxley wrote his book, more than four centuries had passed since the writing of More's Utopia, yet nothing had been done to mitigate the greed and violence that More had found
so appalling. And 60 years after Brave New World, we find that the gulf between rich and poor grows greater, while large sections of our inner cities have been written off as war zones. If we fail to bring about stability through greater democracy, an authoritarian order will be imposed. The utopias of More and Huxley will then become even more important, for we will need to address the questions they raise about the balance between the individual and the collective. From this standpoint, More's Utopia is clearly preferable -- but it is Huxley's vision that more closely resembles our own society. In conclusion, it can be argued that the if we fail to reach More’s Utopia, Huxley’s Brave New World becomes possible; a strong movement within the most powerful sectors of society could arise that would insist upon stability at any cost. Brave New World stands as a warning: if we do not move in the direction of More's vision, it is Huxley's that will prevail.