Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

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Given the current situation around the world, in recent years, dystopian fiction has become quite popular. They present terrifying alternate realities as possible futures for mankind, exploring just how easily a dystopian society can form. Huxley’s Brave New World takes the readers to one such future society controlled by genetic technology and the tranquillising drug soma. Huxley saw it as a dystopia; whereas, the contemporary reader might not.

There is complete freedom, no illness, no distress, no neurosis, no art, and above everything, no mothers. All babies are hatched, graded and grow up content, mind-controlled, happily accepting their position in society. Alphas are tall, bright and beautiful and are in charge of everything while the epsilons, short and plain, clean up after. Others have their place in between.

Bernard the protagonist, is an Alpha, but “something went wrong with the mix”, so he is shorter, more nervous and wilful than he ought to be; almost unhappy. He manages to convince an attractive co-worker to go with him on a vacation to visit a “savage” reservation where American Indians continue to live traditionally apart from the civilised world. When Bernard finds a young “half breed” named John among the Indians, he brings him back to England where John becomes a celebrity as a curiosity. John experiences extreme culture shock and is horrified with many of the sacrifices civilisation has made in order to create a stable society. However, John, dubbed “Mr. Savage” by the press, finds it impossible to convince civilised people that his ideas have any merit.

The most fascinating aspect of Brave New World is how many of Huxley’s imagined projections have actually come into existence or have very strong parallels to our present world. This includes test tube babies, the rise of rampant consumerism, the rise of multinational corporations that threaten to dominate world politics, the focus on instant gratification, the increasing reliance on mood altering drugs, etc. I personally feel that everyone should take the time to be exposed to the ideas in this book in order to get an idea of how far our current world has come along on the path to Huxley’s future.

Arun Kenath
Department of Physics

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