The Truth About Our Society? Are We Corrupted?
In chapter 10-12 of the book, Brave New World, the characters undergo a sequence of changes in their behavior and attitude during their life in the civilized society. As the story progresses, the audience later on sees Bernard’s selfish ways to fit into society. As he brings back John and Linda into the World State, the Director enters in the room in a desperate state to have Bernard exiled from the “perfect” civilized society he wants to maintain. Bernard uses John and Linda for his own desires to embarrass the Director and bring a bad reputation on his title. The Director’s predicament in the chapter is an example of irony. The Director states that no one, including Bernard, can express individuality in any way as the factory will simply create a new individual to take a persons place for their misbehavior. However, the Director becomes the chief example of non-conformity when the others learn that he himself exhibited the most embarrassing behavior in society by fathering a child. The Director, who is normally responsible for the creation of life and ordering of class, is also responsible for a sexual act that goes against his own dystopian society. The Director resigns from his own job because of the embarrassment he faced and Bernard later on uses this chance to finally fit into society from his own selfishness from using John. Bernard later fits into the society by using John as the center of attention inside the World State, but from his own selfishness, Linda is mocked and seen as a disgusting, ragged human from other classes and this causes her to take a great amount of soma that puts her into a deep sleep state. John worries about her, but receives assurance that she feels happier with soma even though she will not live much longer if she keeps continually taking so much. For the first time in the story, John encounters the civilized society’s attitude towards death.
Bernard, who doesn’t care about John’s feelings, controls his daily schedule and uses his fame to get gain many women that he could not easily obtain before going to the Reservation. He later becomes cocky and overconfident as he foolishly criticizes society and even goes so far to lecture Mustapha Mond in a letter on ways that society could improve. The letter amuses and angers Mond, who nevertheless chooses not to punish Bernard for his cocky ways. Pride and arrogance are Bernard’s tragic flaw, the personality traits that causes his downfall. As long as Bernard felt inferior and out of place, he hated his society and explored the meaning of human emotion and individuality, but from using John he now sees what society has to offer him. However, John’s sense of displacement grows as he visits and is given a tour at an elementary school. At the school, John watches a video of Indian savages performing ritual worship while all the school children laugh at them. John asks why everyone laughed and learns that the children laughed because the scene is ridiculous and funny. In the Reservation the ritual was always seen important to John as he could never participate because of his differences. Instead of taking soma to get rid of sadness like everyone else, John reads Shakespeare whenever he feels upset or confused. Shakespeare’s literature and Linda’s previous life in civilized society have always been John’s only sources of information about the other world. Since Linda is permanently under the influence of soma, John can only turn to Shakespeare to explain his surroundings. Ironically, Shakespeare was a genius at invoking passion and emotion, where as society has virtually destroyed these feelings. This disconnection creates a series of serious misunderstandings between John and the rest of society as he struggles to develop his emotions while everyone else struggles to keep their feelings. Bernard’s character is an example of this from being a person that never used soma, to now using it when being depressed. His character may also be Huxley’s critique of the socialist governments. Bernard’s last name Marx alludes to Karl Marx, whose economic theories later contributed to the communist revolution and whose ideas underlie much socialist thought. Like socialist theory, Bernard longs for deeper meaning in human experience. However, Bernard’s taste of power corrupts him, much as power corrupted many socialist governments in the twentieth century.
In chapter 13-15, Huxley shows the audience the imperfection of society in the World State. Linda becomes an example of this as she goes to see John because of her experiencing the human emotion called love. Lenina’s crush on John becomes more uncontrollable as the story progresses. She discusses her sole desire for John and how no other man can replace him with Fanny. Fanny, ever practical, tells Lenina she must either forget about John and sleep with other men or take the initiative and go directly to John’s room. Lenina agrees with Fanny and takes soma to boost her courage to visit John. After she arrives, she tells him that she likes him and John, with images from Shakespeare in his head, tells her that he feels unworthy of her and begs her to make him worthy of her. John’s constant discussion of his feelings and quoting of Shakespeare confuses Lenina, and she only understands him after he tells her that he loves her.
Lenina responds by stripping off her clothes and trying to kiss him, a natural reaction given her cultural upbringing. John, however, reacts first with shock and then with rage thus screaming the word “whore” to her from her actions. Her new emotional monogamy goes against her conditioning. As she experiences these new emotions throughout this experience, it makes her actions and thoughts more like those of an individual, creating a sense of inner conflict. Thus, she constantly requires soma in order to interact with John, taking it during their first date and again before going to his house. Since Lenina has no conception of other cultures and traditions, let alone the Indian traditions, having sex is her conception of love. When John tells her he loves her, she logically assumes that he must want to have sex with her. The entire scene of Lenina going to John is an assertion of individuality, but after her stripping naked causes John to erupt in violence, she immediately reverts to the security of her sociological ideals. His reaction and their subsequent struggle destroy Lenina’s move towards individuality. John explained in the past chapters of how he used to be angered at his mother because of all the men she had sex with in the bed. Since he shares monogamous ideals with the Indian tribe, John has a great deal of suppressed anger towards his mother. Thus, when Lenina strips for him, she becomes everything he hates about Linda. At that moment, she loses the power of being desirable to him and becomes an object that embodies his mother’s base attributes. As a result, John takes all of his rage out on Lenina and drives her away from him. Huxley’s use of Lenina’s nakedness can also reflect the unveiling of her society’s true nature. Like Lenina, the society seemingly promotes beauty, happiness, and perfection. However, when stripped of its garments, the society appears just as base and human as the Indian society that John left. Lenina’s nakedness causes John to realize the gross imperfections of the dystopian society. He realizes that he cannot survive in this society any more than he could survive in the Indian village. Ironically, where John struggled to belong to the Indian social structure, he now struggles to avoid his new society.
After the terrible experience with Lenina, John receives a phone call about his dying mother and goes to the hospital. He encounters the head nurse, who seems astonished that anyone would want to see the dying or dead. Since society has abandoned individuality, they consider dying as beneficial to the population. As John visits Linda, the head nurse brings kids into the room for their death conditioning to get over the fear of dying. One of the kids makes fun of Linda and John becomes angered by tossing the child away. John tries to awaken Linda, but shakes her too hard that causes her to collapse and not breathe anymore. She dies in result from her condition and John is left alone in the World State. The two concepts of individual death presented in these chapters are highly different. In John’s idea of death, each individual represents importance and deserves to be mourned from death. On the other hand, the children learn to view death in a societal context, where the individual has no meaning. Because death does not harm society, the people do not need to fear it. With Linda’s death, John realizes that he is now alone. All of society’s supposed benefits have turned out to be things that morally repulse John. Because of his quest to maintain his individuality, John soon realizes that he cannot live as a sane member of this society. Society has compromised John’s struggle to maintain his individuality and destroy society’s “sameness.” For John, “sameness” becomes visually embodied in the twins of the World State. The physical appearance of multitudes of twins, all replicated and doing the same job, represents the total eradication of individual personality. John logically blames soma for this elimination of individuality. Soma suppresses emotions, which are the defining characteristics of individuals. By trying to force the Deltas to act as individuals, John attacks society’s roots. He sees the difference between the social order and individuality as one of freedom. Helmholtz realizes this and joins John in the process. John develops more and is seen clearly as a Christ figure. Like the character of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, Jesus came to teach great truth or revelation to ignorant or unenlightened people in his time. Jesus spoked truth from his words, but the people often did not hear the message. He thus later on becomes a sacrifice for his ideals during his life. Ironically, although John and Helmholtz seek to force the Deltas to act as individuals, they obtain the opposite result. The Deltas instead act as a unified mob, a classic example of people who have lost their ability to make personal choices. Huxley shows that not only does a mob rob its members of their individuality, but that the society in the story in reality is a carefully orchestrated mob.
In chapter 16-18, John is shown to fight for what is right for the society. After the mob, John is brought to meet Mustapha Mond. Mustapha asks John if he likes his society and he responds saying no as they both have a debate. Their debate are the ideals of individuality and those of the new social order, beginning with the concept of old versus new. Mustapha argues that the old is unnecessary because it contains destabilizing passion and emotions. Stability is the highest virtue because it leads to happiness, and old things like Shakespeare cannot exist since they do not lead to happiness. Mustapha explains this while telling John that he will send Bernard and Helmholtz to an island with society misfits so that his society will not be corrupted. Mustapha admits he himself would have gone to an island but received the choice of becoming the next Controller. He explains that his job is to promote the maximum happiness of society but not of his own. Ironically, he must act as an individual in order to decide what is best for the society. Mustapha then defines art and science as the two primary sacrifices of the old world in order to obtain the ultimate goal of maximum happiness. Art can only exist when it has no meaning, and where as science is praised for improving society, it is also restricted because it may destabilize society. Mustapha next considers that religion is the most destabilizing force in society. Mustapha does not deny the power that religion had in the past world and even claims that he believes in a god. However, he also claims that God has become irrelevant in modern society and now only manifests himself through absence. Huxley presents a strand of existential philosophy that maintains that God’s non-existence created a world in which humanity could only find meaning through its own existence. Mond’s society has strictly controlled the parameters of this existence, leaving no room for a god. John opposed this as he uses the Indian civilization from where he came from in the Reservation. The religion of the Indians inside the Reservation gives great meaning to their lives and provides the ability to endure turmoil and unhappiness. Mustapha explains that the the right to be unhappy no longer exists, but John wants to claim all the corruption of humanity and explain that unhappiness is a natural right every man should have in their life. Huxley names the banishment of art, science, and religion as the three major criteria that must occur to create stability. All of these lead to emotional, physical, or spiritual unrest and would thus threaten society. As a result, one must either eliminate them or use them only when they promote stability and consequently happiness, as in the case of science. Huxley also shows that John leaves to live in a lighthouse to recapture everything that civilization no longer has, including religion, love, remembrance, pain, and abstinence. The lighthouse can also be a reflection of the Garden of Eden, a utopian creation from which God had banished humanity for their sin. John hopes that this secluded space will provide a respite from the dystopia of the modern world. He attempts to repent for his own sins to reenter the Garden but soon finds that even this space is corrupt.
The people who come to watch John beat himself with the whip marks the last chance John has to rejoin society. Lenina’s arrival from out of all the people spurs him into a rage because inside his mind she epitomizes everything evil about her world. She is a sensual being who comes between John and his mother, defiles his abstinence, and makes him forget religion. In result when John sees Lenina, he attacks her in front of the crowd of people around the lighthouse. From this event, John becomes the main and central sacrifice as he went from a one man team against society to actually joining the society again. Joining the society again marked the sacrifice of his individualism and it was too much for him as in result, forced him to commit suicide by hanging himself. Huxley use of John’s suicide can show the death between him and Jesus Christ where as if John rejoined the society, he would give up his individualism and for Jesus if he would have not died on the cross, it would mark no saving for humanity as the world would go to Hell for sin. Huxley uses the ending of the story to show readers that humanity and goodness wither in face of mass depravity. The only solution that John could escape the cursed society was death. John killed himself because a good person cannot live surrounded by continuous sin. John couldn’t convince society into changing their ways so he died in order to be released from the controlling World State.
From the story, our today society can be shown as similar to the World State from Huxley’s works. The corruption of children, racism, and separation has shown that our society only wants to be perfect in its own way, but has ultimately led to our downfall as we have many problems in our countries that we are facing now and later in the future.