'Brave New World' depicts life many many years into the future, in A.F.632, where the world is ruled by a body of resident controllers. These controllers have created the Ideal society full of people who are 'Happy'. All inhabitants of this society have been produced in 'Hatcheries and Conditioning Centers', instead of being born to parents. Hypnopaedia and other techniques of mind conditioning are then used on the human babies to inculcate in them the highest moral codes of 'Community, Stability and Identity'. These very advanced test tube babies are conditioned pre and post birth to fit into an intellectually defined caste system.“The world's stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they cant get. They are well off; they're safe; they are never ill; they're not afraid of death; they're blissfully ignorant of passion and old age; they're plagued with no mothers and fathers; they've got no wives, or children, or lovers to feel strongly about; they're so conditioned that practically can't help behaving as they ought to behave.” Into this civilization is introduced a 'Savage'-John, an unconditioned human born to parents, unaware of the norms of this new society, driven by his instincts. 'Brave New World' then becomes a study of contrasts between this new found civilization with its moral code of 'happiness (being) the Sovereign Good,...the purpose of life was the maintenance of well being” and the old world values of nobility, beauty and religion.
The book is Huxley's reaction to the technological agenda and social trends of his times. In the foreword to the book, Huxley fears that the sexual promiscuity of 'Brave New World' is already being practiced in many American cities where ' the number of divorces is equal to the number of marriages'. Research into human genetics, euphoria about mass production and popular intoxication with dope, radio and television lead Huxley to suggest:'Then I had projected it six hundred years into the future. Today it seems quite possible that the horror may be upon us within a single century.'
Huxley's style is simple, direct and vivid. The novel flows like a story being told by the author to us. His message is clear and powerful at the end of the story. But the future for him is not very optimistic. He provides us with a choice between primitive savagery and a totalitarian Utopia. There is no happier solution provided.
'Brave New World' is a fantastic figment of Huxley's robust imagination. It lead me to postulate on the various possibilities of the future based on our scientific advances. We already have cloned animals. Clones of humans do not seem very improbable at all. Sexual freedom is increasingly the new motto of the younger generations. I know 5 year old toddlers who have girlfriends. Popular media propagates promiscuity. Mass production is already the norm. Material consumption and instant gratification are fast winning over the old world charm of simple living with limited needs.
Book Reviewed by Ashmita Saha
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