Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Brave New World Story and Synopsis
Brave New World is a utopian novel set in a future world state in the year 632 A.F. (after Ford). It presents a picture of that world based on science. In this world, social stability has been achieved through a scientific caste-system. The people belonging to this world are graded from highest intellectuals to lowest manual workers. Reproduction here is a standard laboratory matter, and people are turned out systematically conditioned for the several strata of life. None of the emotions like love, hatred, friendship, etc. – have any place in the life lived in this world. Philosophy, art and literature are substituted by sensual life. Conditioning makes workers content with their lot, and they have no higher aspirations or spiritual values to counter their enjoyment of material pleasures.
The novel opens with a scene at the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Center where its Director is showing this plant to a group of students. The brave new world has already been ushered in, and time is measured from the time of the discovery and mass-production of Model T Ford, 632 years having elapsed since that time when the action of the novel begins. Like mass production of cars, mass-production of babies has been made possible by means of artificial insemination and fertilization of eggs.
The visiting students are told that in the new society, individual differences have been eliminated so as to achieve the goals of Community, Stability and Identity, and people are now grouped, according to the stage of their development right from fetal stage, as Alpha-Plus, the highly intelligent leaders, to Epsilon Minus Morons, the misshape ape-like fools who have to do all the dirty work. The Director explains the Bokanovsky Process which involves the production of 96 identical twins from a single fertilized egg, thereby making maximum conformity possible. Now, Mustapha Mond, one of the ten all-powerful World Controllers, takes over from the Director to lecture to the students. He tells them that in this controlled society, individual passions such as love, have been replaced by communal spirit and casual promiscuity.
Private love between individuals has been dispensed with, and the words like ‘father’ and ‘mother’ denoting personal relationships have become taboos. The disorderly life of the old world has been substituted by an orderly and planned life of the new world, thus making people more happy and contented. Thus, a rosy picture of the new world has been presented by Mond.
However, even in such a world, some dissatisfaction is brewing up. Bernard Marx, an unorthodox and unhappy Alpha-Plus (a brilliant man) feels dissatisfied with the whole system. An Alpha-Plus friend of his. Helmholtz Watson, feels a vague creative restlessness. Lenina Crowne, a fleshy girl who has been attracted towards Bernard, produces a feeling of disgust and boredom in both.
Being an intellectual, Bernard Marx is allowed to visit one of the few reservations left in the world which have remained unaffected by the civilization of the new world, and where people still live as savages. Accompanied by Lenina, he once pays a visit to one such settlement in New Mexico. Lenina, who is accustomed to the so-called) civilized life of Europe of 632 A.F., has a feeling of repulsion against the primitive life of people here.
At the reservation, Bernard and Lenina come across a savage, John, born to a middle-aged woman, Linda, by the Director of Hatcheries as a result of her carelessness in the use of contraceptive device. Linda now lives a promiscuous life on the reservation, having affairs with several men including Pope. John grows up as an intelligent and self-taught man because of his having been born of civilized parents, but remains partly a savage because of his upbringing among the savages living on the reservation.
John the Savage falls in love with Lenina, but his conventional morality inhibits his attraction towards her physical charms. Bernard seeks and gets permission of Mustapha Mond to take John back to England along with his mother Linda to conduct an experiment on him. With his knowledge of English and his frequent quotations from Shakespeare, John proves to be a great success in London society. Lenina is attracted towards him and tries to seduce him; but he rejects her and repulses her advances because: of what he regards as her loose morals. John is initially fascinated by the New World, but finally he feels disgusted with it and revolts against its laws.
John’s mother does not get such social success in London as does her son, and lives a secluded life under the tranqullising effect of soma, the universal drug. After some time, she dies because of having taken an overdose of this drug. John is highly enraged at this, and raises a great hue and cry against its use which, in his view, makes people less human. Bernard and Helmboltz join him in his demonstration against soma. The people there grow furious at this, and try to kill John; but he is saved by the timely intervention of the police.
Bernard, Helmholtz and John are summoned before the World controller (Mustapha Mond) to be punished for their rebellion against the State. Bernard and Helmholtz are exiled to the Falkland Island, but John is detained in order to have a lengthy philosophical discussion with Mond. Mond explains to him how the brave new world has no place for art, literature, and religion, because these things are detrimental to social order and stability. Happiness consists, according to him, in sensual pleasures, and emotional attachments and personal relationships are to be treated as mere superfluities.
Remaining unconvinced by Mond’s pleas in favor of the new world and civilization, John puts forward his own arguments favoring a life of primitive impulses and human emotions. His arguments reveal the incompatibility of individual freedom and a scientifically free and well ordered society. He is appalled by the soulless horror of the new world in which creature-comforts and social stability are made possible at the cost of individual freedom. He attaches much importance to God, Shakespeare, father and mother as well as conventional morality. Unwilling to be retained as an object of scientific experimentation, and torn between the simultaneous physical attraction towards and mental repulsion against Lenina, he goes to a lighthouse on the coast of Surrey to live there as a hermit.
John reverts to the life of a primitive savage, doing all his odd jobs himself, such as making his tools for hunting and planting a garden. He occasionally lashes himself with his whip when he remembers his lust for Lenina. News of his eccentric behaviour spreads everywhere, and people come from various places to enjoy the scene of his whipping himself. Lenina also comes once with the crowd to witness this funny spectacle. John grows furious at this, and kills her by whipping her instead of himself.
The next day, when people come there again, they find him having hanged himself in the lighthouse. His suicide comes in the wake of his inability to adjust himself to the way of life or manners and morals of the New World. The novel ends thus with an exhibition of the failure of this world to wean the Savage away from his attachment to the old world to which he originally belonged.
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