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In Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Huxley’s Brave New World, the authoritative figures strive for freedom, peace, and stability for all, to develop a utopian society. The Utopian society strives for a perfect state of well-being for all persons in the community, and over-emphasizes this factor, where no person is exposed to the reality of the world. As each novel progresses we see that neither society possesses family values nor attempts to practice them. Neither are passionate nor creative in factors such as love, language, history and literature. Our society today, in general, is unsure about the future: The nightmare of total organization has emerged from the safe, remote future and is now awaiting us, just around the next corner. It follows inexorably from having so many people. This quotes represents Watts’ fear for the future; George Orwell and Aldous Huxley both explore the future state of civilization in their novels. They both warn us of the dangers of a totalitarian society. Both books express a utopian ideal, examine characters that are forced into this state and are compelled to dealing with this society and all the rules involved.
The impracticality of the utopian ideal is explored in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Huxley’s Brave New World. Both authors suggest that a lack of familial bonds, the repression of human individuality, and the repression of artistic and creative endeavors in order to attain a stable environment renders the achievement of a perfect state unrealistic. The lack of familial bonds, in both novels, contributes to the development of a dystopian society. This lack of familial bonds is evident through genetic engineering, the use of names, and a commonly used drug, soma.
One of the first mentionings of family in Brave New World is when the main character, Bernard, asks the Controller, the ultimate leader, about the past and why their society does not believe in families. His response suggests that authoritative figures do not believe that there is need for a mother in society and therefore, the Controller responds, “Mother, he repeated loudly rubbing in the science; and, leaning back in his chair, these, he said gravely are unpleasant facts; I know it. But then most historical facts are unpleasant.” The disregard for mothers as a valuable figure in life contributes to the lack of familial bonds.
In Huxley’s Brave New World, human life is conceived in a bottle; the embryo no longer grows in the mother’s womb, and therefore no bond is formed between the mother and the baby.
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Orwell’s choice in naming the Party’s leader, ‘Big Brother’ in Nineteen Eighty-Four, gives the reader the impression that all of Oceania is like a huge family. There are no smaller individual families, which results in this society’s lack of close and intimate relationships. The first description Orwell gives to his audience of Big Brother is, ” …standing like a rock against the hordes of Asia…doubt about his very existence, seemed like some sinister enchanter, capable by the mere power of his voice of wrecking the structure of civilization.” This first impression of ‘Big Brother’ is a frightening and violent image. It leads families to believe that he is a poor role-model in depicting what the word ‘brother’ really stands for. “The word ‘brother’ is the name that one would use in a family.
The Big Brother, the Great Leader in Oceania, contributes to the lack of family values and the corruptness of the Party. It is not a justice comparison.” Using Big Brother’s name so often takes away from the family ideal and begins to weaken family relationships. The use of soma, the perfect drug, acts as a negative replacement for familial bonds. When an individual cannot cope with the daily stresses of life they rely on soma, to turn their stress into an illusion. This acts as a substitute to dealing with their problems, rather than relying on family for support or advice. Soma is an “euphoric, narcotic, pleasantly hallucinant… a holiday from reality.” It leaves the individual with unresolved issues and results in an illusioned life; this is not fair to the family, who has to deal with the individual’s reliance of the narcotic. Soma has a negative effect on familial bonds, and contributes to the achievement of a perfect sate, which is unrealistic. Authority, in the novels Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four have an immense effect over one’s identity and individualism, leading to a dystopic state. This great lack of individuality is due to the conditioning process on the children, and the maintaining of a stable environment.
In Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Huxley’s Brave New World everyone is identical. Huxley writes about the loss of human individuality. “Twelve of them ready to be made one, waiting to come together, to be fused, to lose their twelve separate identities in a larger being.” Each citizen loses power and pride in their own identity. Every human being, in both utopian worlds, is conditioned to fit society’s needs.
In Brave New World, the DNA of a embryo is arranged exactly the same as several others, producing several twins. Then as a child, you are put through different drills and routines, including psychological conditioning, and “sleep-teaching”, forcing you to become a product of a certain class: Huxley wrote out of his scientific background and mass-produced his population in the fashion long popular in science fiction, growing them in bottles and conditioning them from birth in all the ways proposed by psychologists. This shows that the products of the conditioning process do not know nor understand the realities of the world. They are hidden in illusion their entire life and are modified from the time that they are first placed in a bottle, to believe in the utopian ideals.
In Brave New World, John, the savage sees the illusion. “You’re so conditioned that you can’t help doing what you ought to do”. John, the savage, points this out to Lenina, a product from the utopian society, but she is so caught up in the illusion that she cannot see the conditioning. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, O’Brien, a member from the elite class, confesses to the corruptness of the political party, ‘...the Party seeks power for its own sake…Power is not a means; it is an end.’ This shows the Party’s intentions in keeping society an illusion. They have power to do anything that they wish to do. Since this is true, the Party brainwashes thoughts into the followers heads believing that they live in a utopian society.
Winston, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, has been brainwashed: Winston gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark mustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother. This shows the power that the Party and O’Brien has had over Winston; they have taken his old understanding and beliefs and transformed them into an attitude that complies with those of the Party. The conditioning of an individual for a utopian society often results in the repression of individuality. Both novels attempt to create a utopian society. The major thing that holds these societies together is because they are stable.
Stability is a goal for both Oceania (from Nineteen Eight-Four) and for the Brave New World. It reinforces the control and power of the elite class. “Stability means minimizing conflict, risk, and change. Without conflict, risk, and change, Utopia is realistic.” When stability is attained, the world of Utopia becomes an illusion. Individuals that are stuck in this illusion can no longer see reality. The Party, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, creates goals, that they place all over the city. The signs say: “WAR IS PEACE”, “FREEDOM IS SLAVERY” , and “IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH” . The Party is adding to the illusion, forcing people to have no choice but to accept the oppression. This is the Party’s way of controlling and brainwashing its people.
Brave New World has a similar, yet different, way of control: “Both heredity and environment were absolutely determined. These bottle products were released from moral tensions because they were so conditioned that none of their actions had moral consequences.” This shows that society is stuck living an illusion. The elite class has so much power that the other classes cannot understand and will never be able to deal with the true problems within the world. This is evident in Brave New World, when Lenina and Bernard first arrive at the Indian Reservation. While being guided around the island, the whole reservation has gathered for a ceremony in the center of the island, and Lenina sees sickness, age, scars, pain, and a woman breast feeding their children. She is repulsed by all of this, and cannot cope with any of it. The Indian island is not stable, and that is why Lenina cannot deal with realities, as she has never been exposed to these things before. As soon as stability has been broken, so has the utopian ideal. Through the vast uses of human conditioning and the constant stable environment, human individuality is no longer be present. In the case that there is no human individualism, the utopian ideal remains dystopic. The repression of artistic and creative desires are contributors to the unrealistic state of utopia.
The depletion of language and history is present in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Huxley’s Brave New World and acts as a part of the repression of artistic and creative endeavors. Everyone has the need to express themselves; whether it is through poetry, music, writing or painting; it should be a wonderful passion that individuals enjoy. With a ban of creative or artistic activity, there will definitely be a change in society. ‘…And passion and neurasthenia means the end of civilization. You can’t have a lasting civilization without plenty of pleasant vices.’ This shows that individuals must be able to express themselves in order to have an interesting and pleasant society. Language and history are slowly being erased from Oceania and brave new world. Newspeak, the local news station on the telesceen of Oceania in Nineteen Eighty-Four, aims to reduce the number of words in the language. The plan continues with the reporters using less and less words to decrease the thinking in the brain, and the eventual dissolve of one’s imagination. “In the end we shall make thought-crime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it” Now there is no need for the Thought Police because there will be a little amount of words left in the English language.
History, in both novels, contributes to the development of stable society. Winston, from the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four works for the Ministry of Truth. This Ministry is completely immoral, where Winston’s job is to change history constantly so “:..the chosen lie would pass into the permanent records and become truth..” In Brave New World, people have no desire for history and literature because they have been brainwashed to stay away from books. In both societies, people will never learn how to make their lives better or be aware of the illusion that is present. This results in living in a stable society, where nothing will ever change. The people from this society unwillingly paid the price of their creativity and their ability to think, which results in their lack of expression and imagination. These creative and artistic endeavors that are necessary to sustain a utopian ideal, create an unrealistic utopia.
Expressed in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, is the unfeasibility of the Utopian ideal. There perfect state remains dystopic when a lack of familial bonds, the sacrifice of human identity, and the lack of creative and artistic desires try to create stability in their society. The illusion of the utopian society is obvious. Both of these authors do an excellent job in depicting the reality of utopia ideal: ‘But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.’ ‘In fact,’ said Mustapha Mond, ‘you’re claiming the right to be unhappy.’ ‘All right, then,’ said the Savage defiantly, ‘I’m claiming the right to be unhappy.’ ‘Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right to have syphilis and cancer; the right to have little to eat; the right to be lousy; the right to live in constant apprehension of what may happen tomorrow; the right to catch typhoid; the right to be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind.’ There was a long silence. ‘I claim them all,’ said the Savage at last. This quote represents the failure of the utopian ideal. John in Brave New World, is the last one to see through this illusion. He recognizes what the controllers have done; they have deteriorated family relationships, lost the individualism in each human, and repressed artistic and creative endeavors to a minimum to ensure a stable society.
In Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston has almost reached the state of seeing through the illusion. The Party realizes this and sends his to Room 101, where ‘your worst fear becomes a reality’. The purpose of this being to readjust Winston’s attitudes. He is conditioned and at the end of the novel comes to a realization, “I love Big Brother” . The Party is too powerful for Winston to see through this illusion.
It is evident through both novels, whereby both societies strive for this utopian state, that in the end, it is proved that with a lack of familial bonds, the loss of human individuality, and the repression of creative and artistic endeavors, both societies remain dytopic.