Brave New World: The Savage as the Saviour
Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World tells a tale of a society that looks with wonder upon its own terrible practices. While they lead what they believe to be rich lives free of suffering and strife, they are, in reality, deeply impoverished, surviving off the most primitive of human instincts. The only truly sane person in this novel is one who is deemed a “savage”, but he is able to see through the facade of this “brave new world”.
The majority of Brave New World takes place in the World State, a society in which all inhabitants live seemingly perfect lives. People never grow old, are free to do whatever they please, and take a mind-numbing drug called ‘Soma’ whenever they’re feeling down. People no longer have families, and human beings are created in a “hatchery”, where they are conditioned to fit into one of five social castes according to intellect and physical stature. Some of the lower castes are ingrained with a hatred of books and nature to fit the aims of the society or are even made grossly unintelligent. Before they are even conceived, the citizens of the World State have already been placed into their stations in life.
Brave New World in-depth Review
At the beginning of Brave New World, we follow Bernard Marx, an “Alpha” who is discontented with his life in the World State. He is unusually small for his caste, but still has the intelligence of the elites. Along with his friend, Helmholtz Watson, the two don’t seem to truly fit anywhere in their society. Bernard continually exhibits behaviour that is deemed to be inappropriate, and his superior, the Director, threatens to exile him to Iceland. Before he is able to do that, however, he accompanies a woman named Lenina Crowe on a visit to the Savage Reservations of the old world.
It is during this visit that Bernard meets a woman named Linda who was originally from the World State, but was lost during a trip she took years ago with the Director. With him, she had a son named John who grew up as an outsider on the reservation. Bernard seizes the opportunity to get back at the Director, and offers to take both John and Linda back to the World State. After hearing stories of how great it is, John is extremely eager to witness this “brave new world” for himself.
It’s Not all That it Seems
Alas, John’s hopes for a new world were dashed the moment he stepped foot into the World State. He is appalled by how its citizens take pleasure in the most vacuous of activities, drown their sorrows in Soma, and have grossly superficial relationships with one another. John realizes that, although the people appear to be happy, they are all living an essentially meaningless life. He attempts to advise the citizens to stop taking Soma in a violent display, but he is subdued by the police. Bernard and Helmholtz are exiled to an island, but John is not permitted to go with them, so he goes to live out his life in a lighthouse. He is not able to live in peace, however, as he is relentlessly harassed by crowds from the World State, and ends up hanging himself in dejection.
In a case of extreme irony, John the Savage is the only true civilized person in the society of the World State. He is the only character throughout the whole story that truly recognizes it as a dystopia, rather than the utopia that it is believed to be. At first, Bernard seems to occupy the role that John eventually does, but when life in the World State became much better for him, he was willing to look past its shortcomings. He only had a problem with the society because it didn’t benefit him, not because he truly believed it to be unjust.
Brave New World Ralph’s Wrap Up
Bernard’s behaviour raises an important question: at what point does one recognize a utopia as a dystopia, and how far is one willing to go to change it? Bernard merely changed the dystopia enough so that he could personally enjoy his life a little better, but John wanted to improve the lives of all citizens. It might seem like most people would take John’s position if given the chance, but you’d be surprised at how easy it is to forget the world’s problems when you’re living good. Be sure to keep that in mind.