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Life experiences acted as one of the major inspirations to ancient writers. Many writers came up with different writings to express their experiences and visions. The writers came up with books and articles that tried to warn the society about the effects of their actions, while others tried to educate the society on what it needed to do to better its future.
One of the writers who came up with a novel based on their experiences was Aldous Huxley. Aldous wrote the book Brave New World, which reflects an astounding outlook of the future that on the surface seems more or less humorous (Trimble 21). Nevertheless, Huxley did not intend to portray humor in his book. Actually, it is hard to decipher the message put forward in the book.
He predicted that there would emerge a regime that would strip people of their freedom. Aldous book is fascinating for he paints a picture of a society attached to a pathetic regime, which is of no use to the common person. As aforementioned, Aldous life experiences contributed largely to this writing. This paper discusses how Aldous life experience influenced the content and style the Brave New World book.
Aldous Huxley was born in1894 to a famous family that was strongly engrossed to England’s scientific and literary customs. His father was the son of Thomas Henry Huxley, a renowned biologist. On the other hand, her mother shared background with Matthew Arnold, a renowned littérateur. Given that he was brought up in a background comprising teachers, writers, and scientists, Aldous got quality education, which allowed him to amass a lot of knowledge.
Huxley was a keen learner and during his stint, he was prominent for his intellect and mastery of English (Trimble 28). Moreover, he was versed with inventions in the scientific field. In spite of his scientific knowledge being shallow, he was always determined to achieve all that bordered conventional science. His education bordered both science and literature, thus leaving him at a better position to incorporate the contemporary scientific discoveries in his literary works.
Influence from life experience
Huxley posits, “Human beings are given free will in order to choose between insanity on the one hand and lunacy on the other hand” (vii). Most of his opinions in the book reflect his views on the effects of scientific and technological advancement on the future society. After monitoring the society for a long time, Aldous learnt that people derived their happiness from things that were not worth being valued. For instance, people were happy to engage in promiscuity, sports, and utilizing mass-produced products.
Lenina claims, “How I loathe intravenals, don’t you” (Huxley 29), which signifies the level of promiscuity in the society. In pursuit for happiness, the society ended up sacrificing the most crucial fabrics that united it like family, culture, love, and freedom. With an idea of what scientific and technological advancements were, capable of, Aldous came up with the Brave New World as a way of sending a warning to a society that strongly embraced new changes without thinking about the possible repercussions.
Aldous introduces a pleasure-drug, soma. The drug is not actually a utopian wonder drug. Instead, it helps in eliminating hangovers rather than transforming one’s life.
After using the drug, Bernard posits, “It’ll be a failure again” (Huxley 61). This signifies that the drug did not transform him into learning professional. Desire by the society to look for shortcuts in everything it does compelled Aldous to bring up the idea of pleasure-drug in his book. Bernard Marx took the drug hoping that it would help him become a sleep-learning professional.
Nevertheless, it does not. He posits, “I know it will be a failure again” (Huxley 62) to show that the drug does not meet the intended purpose. Unlike in the past where people engaged in promiscuity, Huxley brings out a new form of promiscuity brought about by scientific and technological advancement. Taking pleasure-drug does not add value to human life in any way. Instead, it triggers an inauthentic and mindless “moron happiness.”
Bernard laments, “No, the real problem is: How is it …if I were free-not enslaved by my conditioning” (Huxley 61). He intended to bring out the negative effects technological and scientific utopia that people were embracing blindly. If Aldous intended to tease instead of fending off emotional primeval with the biological illusion, then he could have visualized perfect wonder drugs that enhanced or underpinned our most treasured standards (Postman 45-52).
In people’s imaginations, probably they might have been allowed to (through scientific advancements) embrace novel wonders to transform themselves into the romanticized editions of the kind of people would desire to be. In this case, the utopians could have exploited behavioral conditioning to protract, rather than destabilize, a more compassionate culture of elegant humanity and a life well lived.
Nevertheless, Aldous had a different idea when writing his book. His wide knowledge in science gave him an insight on the possible effects of future scientific discoveries. He presents Henry claiming, “Some men are almost rhinoceroses; they don’t respond properly to conditioning” (Huxley 59). This assertion shows that the conditioning may at times be detrimental. Hence, he wrote the book with an aim of warning the society against embracing all manners of scientific utopianism.
Huxley predicted that a time would come when the various castes would resist taking soma. John wonders “…aren’t you shortening her life by giving her so much?” (Huxley 104). Huxley showed that people like John had started doubting the benefits of the drug. Besides, his fear is confirmed by Dr. Shaw who answers, “In one sense, yes” (Huxley 104).
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Today, Huxley’s predictions are prevalent. Currently, countries have come up with sanctions against numerous mood drugs (Postman 58). Besides, people fear to use even the approved drugs. Many people suffer from mental challenges that can be resolved using clinically approved anti-anxiety and mood-booster drugs. Nevertheless, many fear using these drugs and believe that the drugs might transform them into zombies.
This aspect signifies the level of pessimism, which the contemporary society has towards scientific development. The pessimism emerged after the society learnt that scientists had been taking them for a ride by developing drugs that did not meet their prospects.
Apart from education, another main factor that played a significant role in writing the Brave New World book was the illness that befell Huxley during his tender age. While still a teenager, Aldous suffered from eye problem that impaired his sight. Huxley had a dream of becoming a doctor. Nevertheless, as his sight continued deteriorating, it became hard for him to pursue his dream. Imaginativeness and sightlessness form part of the themes that defined his writings.
In writing the Brave New World, Huxley intended to bring out the level of blindness that was dominant in the society. Lenina asserts, “Of course they don’t. How can they? They don’t know what it’s like being anything else” (Huxley 50). Lenina signifies the level of complacency within society. His inclusion of pleasure drugs and promiscuity that cloud the society intended to portray the magnitude of blindness that infested the society.
People were blindly embracing all sorts of scientific and technological utopians without considering their effects. They believed it would help in eliminating their problems. Lenina asks Bernard “Why do you not take soma when you have these dreadful ideas. You would forget all about them” (Huxley 62). The society was unaware of the future effects of this utopia and Huxley believed that he had the duty to help it understand the repercussions of its actions.
Aldous Huxley was brought up in a background where love and culture were the social fabrics uniting the society (Smith 12). Families were united and the parents encouraged their children to study and practice all that was right. Mustapha Mond mutters, “Try to realize what it was like to have a viviparous mother” (Huxley 26), which underscores the value a family had in the past.
As the society continued to advance both scientifically and technologically, Huxley learnt that people were gradually doing away with the critical social fabrics that united society. Love and culture was gradually transforming into immorality and individualism. Huxley wrote the book to send a message that the continued technological and scientific advancements would rob the society of one of the most coveted thing, viz. love.
He writes, “Try to imagine what living with one’s family’ meant” (Huxley 27). He used satire to bring out the negative effects of civilization in a way that his readers would understand. The utopian happiness brought by scientific and technological advancement hinged on sacrifice, and to realize it, the society had to part with religion, art, and love. After enjoying parental love during his early age as well as the love of her wife in his later age, Huxley believed that love was the most critical aspect that kept the society together.
However, he felt that the demands presented by civilization were likely to tear apart love in society. He sought to sustain love within the society by showing how sexual promiscuity (brought about by civilization) demeaned love. Prior to the onset of civilization, both men and women fancied each other. Besides, they preserved sex since they believed that misusing it would mean dishonoring one another. Nevertheless, civilization allowed people to misuse sex thus treating women like prostitutes.
In his book, Huxley introduced the idea of the caste system to signify the division that was likely to emerge due to scientific and technological advancement. Mr. Foster asserts, “We also predestine and condition. We decant our babies as socialized human beings, as Alphas, or Epsilons, as future sewage workers or future directors of Hatcheries” (Huxley 11).
The affluent people in the society would require the poor to work in their industries, farms, and homes. Hence, they would use all means to ensure that other people did not acquire education, which could liberate them from poverty. Mr. Foster confesses, “But in Epsilons we don’t need human intelligence” (Huxley 47), which proves that the affluent can ensure that the poor do not get education so that they remain their slaves.
According to Huxley, other castes developed the attitude of respecting Alphas who “work much harder than we do, because they’re so frightfully clever” (21). In this context, Alphas was the caste in the upper echelon, which symbolized the rich and educated. Aldous came from an educated background.
Hence, he had an idea of how the educated had the power to influence the uneducated. At some point, Mr. Foster claims, “Our colleagues upstairs will teach them to love it” (Huxley 13), which proves that the rich have the capacity to make the poor submit to all their demands. His physical blindness compelled him to expose the level of blindness towards science and technology that existed in the society.
People believed that technological advancement would have positive effects on their lives. However, according to Brave New World, scientific and technological advancements were meant to benefit the affluent at the expense of the poor. Huxley felt obliged to enlighten the society on this issue since he had the knowledge.
Writers rely heavily on their life experience when coming up with literary works. While some writers use their experience to enlighten or warn the society, others use it to castigate certain values brought about by civilization. One of the factors that influenced Huxley’s writing was his educational background and knowledge in science.
He used this experience to enlighten people on the dangers of embracing a utopian society. Another factor that influenced his writing was the blindness that affected him at a tender age. He felt that the society was blind about the dangers of civilization and he had the duty to open their eyes. His book aimed at helping the society to understand the dangers associated with civilization.
Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World, New York: Buccaneer Books, Inc., 1946. Print.
Smith, Grover. Letters of Aldous Huxley, New York: Harper & Row, 1969. Print.
Trimble, John. Writing with Style: Conversation on the Art of Writing, New York: Prentice Hall, 2000. Print.