Brave New World: Not so New Anymore
By Jeff Renchen
Some people may think that Aldous Huxley was a time traveler when they read his novel, Brave New World. He was able to draw very eerie similarities between his book and the modern world. Considering he was writing about sex, drugs, government control, and suicide in the 1930’s, it is amazing that his books were not banned from every country (although some did try). It is a book that even now that is constantly challenged in public schools for being required reading, so what kind of classic novel is this?
It has been stated that Huxley, like many elderly people, was angered by each successive generation being worse than his own. He felt that each new generation was becoming less human and was driven more by its animal urges. Since Huxley was an established writer, he had a vehicle to proclaim his feelings, and Brave New World was born. In this futuristic world, sex is expected to occur as often and with as many partners as possible. Drugs are expected to be taken if anyone starts to feel slightly depressed or angered. Sound like paradise? Well, this all came at a price for the members of Huxley’s fictional society. There are no individuals within the civilized areas. People have been pried from their emotions, so each person is just an empty shell full of basic human instincts.
Due to each person’s disassociation with his or her emotions, the characters within the novel are never really known. The reader is more like a regular person just stuck into this society making observations. The reader never becomes attached to the main character because there is nothing there to get attached to. The main character is not really a hero anyway, but more like an anti-hero. He starts off as the lone outcast, but when he becomes accepted in society, he is ravenous for the acceptance of every single person around him. The closest character to a hero would be the savage that gets put into the civilized world after being in the wilderness all his life, knowing only the works of Shakespeare. He finds no amusement or meaning within the façade of the community, saying, “What you need…is something with tears for a change. Nothing costs enough here.” (Huxley 287)
In a world without any strife, emotion, or feelings, there cannot be any true artistic innovation. This seems to be directly associated with our age. Classic movies such as Casablanca and Shawshank Redemption are quickly being replaced with non-stop special effect blockbusters like Transformers and 300. Huxley may have been right when griping about the successive generations.
The book has a wild ending that is complete with clashings between the new world and old world and plenty of Huxley’s moral undertones. It is a definite must-read, in this writer’s opinion, based on the fact that it is a different and interesting style of writing. The moral undertones may come across a little heavy-handed, but it is a short read that does not get bogged down in pointless details. Do not be swayed from this book because it is science fiction, because it may be less fiction than one thinks.
Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. New York: Harper & Row, 1932.