Brave New World as a Satirical Novel
Brave New World is Huxley’s most popular novel. A fantasy of the future, it presents a utopian vision of a future world, while launching an attack on the present-day tendency of an over-dependence on science and its discoveries. It is a satire on the present as well as a fantastic vision of the future. In this novel, Huxley has satirized the idea of progress put forward by scientists and philosophers, in an irrepressibly witty manner.
Brave New World contains, like George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984), a satiric vision of and commentary on future, and may at first glance be termed an anti-utopian satire on the future. The negative and pessimistic vision of future presented by Huxley appears to be meant to be a satirical attack on the culmination of the unchecked scientific advancement in the modern age. However, a close look at the novel shows that the satire in it is not aimed so much at what will happen in future as at what is happening around us at present. The evils of an excessive dependence on science are not to come in future; they are already there. Man has already become a slave to science, and much of his life depends on the facilities provided by it. Like the Russian novel, We by Zamiatin, Brave New World presents an anti-utopian vision of the future to launch an attack on the present. According to George Woodcok, this novel “is a fantasy of the future and a satire on the present. And in both roles it carries conviction because of the expert and convincing handling of detail to create a plausible world.” (Dawn and the Darkest Hour, pp. 177-78).
The irony implicit in Huxley’s choice of the title (from Shakespeare’s play The Tempest) is evident enough, and his satire on the supposedly ‘brave new world’ of the modern man living in 632 after Ford, quite biting. The world presented by him is neither brave nor new. but simply disgusting. He is satirizing the scientific progress carried to an extreme, and the Lilliputian pretensions of the Alphas and Deltas living under the Fordian state. Like Miranda of Shakespeare’s play, the Savage is also ignorant of the vices that this brave new world and its inhabitants are heir to.
Like Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, Brave New World is an attack on totalitarianism and the unchecked scientific advancement made at the cost of the spiritual and moral or emotional aspects of man’s life. Like that novel, it has its own didactic tone. The writer cautions man against the life in a scientifically controlled world with its indoctrination conditioning, test-tube babies, free sex, and suppression of historical truth. Huxley seeks to debunk the idea of science being an end in itself. By presenting a majority of people in the Fordian brave new world as content with their mechanical existence, and banishing the Savage from this world because he preferred a life of natural impulses and individual freedom, Huxley has satirized the Progress made by Man with the help of science, suppressing human traits like individuality, freewill, creativity, emotions and natural instincts. “Now-such is progress”, says Mustapha Mond, the World Controller, “the old men work, the old men copulate the old men have no time, no leisure from pleasure, not a moment to sit down and think.” (Brave New World, p. 54). In his eagerness to create happiness for himself even at the cost of moral values and human emotions, man has hardly remained a man at all, and has become a sort of automaton.
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- Brave New World | Questions and Answers
- Brave New World as a Dystopian Novel
- Brave New World Themes
- John the Savage | Character Analysis
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Through the depiction of the process of infant-conditioning, Huxley satirizes Pavlov and his behaviouristic doctrine. Bokanoveskian Process and pregnancy substitutes are meant to satirize the advancement made by biological sciences. The institution of marriage has been rendered superfluous in the Fordian world where there is a perfect freedom in matters of sex, and where, as Fanny points out, “Everyone belongs to everyone else.” (Ibid., p. 45). The term ‘chastity’ is merely a misnomer here. Huxley makes his satirical point by making Linda John’s mother, remark on marriage:
“It does seem a lot of fuss to make about so little. In civilized countries, when a boy wants to have a girl, he just…” (Ibid., p. 111).
In fact, a tone of mockery pervades the whole of the book, and ideas, characters and situations are ridiculed as soon as they appear in it. At times, Huxley mocks different ideas by adopting the viewpoint of one of his characters and ironically presenting it as his own. Literary indulgences like the reading of Shakespeare are treated with derision. In place of old religious practices like Church service, chanting of hymns and choruses, or the celebration of Christmas, there are “Ford’s Day celebrations, the Community sings, and Solidarity Services.” (ibid., p. 62). The suppression of historical truth is presented, only to be satirized, in Mustapha Mond’s words as “a campaign against the Past; by the closing of museums, the blowing up of historical monuments… by the suppression of all books published before A.F. 150”. (Ibid., pp. 50-51).
Huxley mocks the modern notions about God and religion by getting them to be represented by Mustapha Mond. Mond believes that “religious sentiment is superfluous” (lbid. p. 180): and he says about God: “God isn’t compatible with machinery and scientific medicine and human happiness. You must make your choice. Our civilization has chosen machinery and medicine and happiness.” (Ibid., p. 183).
Thus, Huxley satirizes the modern views on religion, God, sex, Progress, Love and marriage either directly or indirectly by making his characters express views that he derides and wishes to attack. He employs Swift-like ironical manner to express his disillusionment with modern civilization based on scientific progress and to satirize what he believes would become of the world and humanity if man continues his thralldom of science and material comforts at the cost of moral and spiritual values. There is an intensity and thoroughness in the satire in this novel, which is hardly found anywhere else in Huxley’s novels.
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