Brave New World
The Loss of Individuality
The peak of a writer’s career should exhibit their most profound works of literature. In the case of Aldous Huxley, Brave New World is by far his most renowned novel. Aldous Huxley is a European-born writer who, in the midst of his career, moved to the United States and settled in California. While in California, he began to have visions aided by his usage of hallucinatory drugs. His visions were of a utopian society surviving here on earth. In his literature, Huxley wanted to make this utopian society as much a reality as possible. “In framing an ideal we may assume what we wish, but should avoid impossibilities.” This quote, written by Aristotle, perfectly describes Huxley’s attitude towards the creation of his imaginary utopia. His only problem was establishing a value system that would not seem too unattainable. Huxley has two novels that have the theme of utopia, Brave New World and Island. Brave New World , which was written before Island , has ideas that are quite far-fetched, but in Huxley’s eyes, still close to reality.
Huxley’s first portrait of utopia involves having a controlled society of people all being alike. The year is A.F. 632 (After Ford; Ford is the equivalent to God in Brave New World ) and with the available technology, citizens are mass produced. Island is a product of the rethinking of Huxley’s utopia. The ideas are a lot more real because the people are just ordinary human beings. Both of these novels have an underlying theme in common. The stability of Huxley’s utopian societies are centered around the loss of individualism.
Individuals are considered a threat in Huxley’s utopian novels. In the novel Island, the utopian society is on a small island, named Pala. The leader of the utopian society, Murugan, is an individual apart from the community. His plans are to modernize and charge the way the people of Pala live. The reason he has thoughts that are different from the rest of the community is that he was raised outside of Pala. He grew up in Switzerland and the neighboring island Rendag, both of which have been modernized and corrupted by the outside world. Therefore, Murugan’s mind has been corrupted by his staying in those two places. “Pala is thus threatened by the outside world,” explains critic Frank Magill, because Murugan is introducing the modern way of life to this small island and it is damaging the stability of the community. Rendag was once the same as Pala but since it has ports for ships to embark, it was exposed to the outside world much more quickly. Pala has no ports so it was safe from the invasions of the Arabs, Portuguese, Dutch and English, which Pendag fell victim to.
There are five times types of people made in Brave New World. Alphas, Betas, Deltas, Gamma, and Epsilons. Bernard Marx, the main character of Brave New World is an Alpha. Alphas are supposed to be the smartest, most well-built, most intellectual, and well-conditioned of all the five of the groups made. Yet Bernard speaks with individualistic ideas that are unheard of in this society molded around the loss of being a unique person. Bernard’s friend, Helmholtz Watson is also one who threatens the utopia of Brave New World. Huxley explains the friendship of the two men: “What the two men shared was the knowledge that they were individuals.” They are the only characters which openly discuss their personal ideas. Ideas that in a sense are considered sinful in their society. In the end Bernard and Helmholtz are ejected from society by being shipped off to some foreign island so that they will finally be free to expose their individualism.
Through mass production of people, individualism is lost. In Brave New World, all of the people are products of mass production. “Racks upon racks of numbered test tubes.#”, [p. 5] is the only way to describe them before their actual birth. They have no family to give them a background different from anyone else’s. They all come from the same green bottles. Even when they are born, all they are given is a name chosen out of a small group of common