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A Review of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932)

There are a number of continuous questions of which are repetitively pondered, argued and debated on. One of those questions being, “What is the meaning of life?”

Some suggest that religion rules us all, others say it is about finding happiness. A majority, though, in regards to maximizing life and its potential, claim that the meaning of life is human reproductionThe very existence of that question comes from the existence of a human being itself, who was born from a man and woman using their evolutionary sexual functions to maintain the population of the earth.

But this was the old world. The distant world. The outdated world.

Sexual reproduction ceases to exist in one world, and we’re talking about Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World set in the year AD 2450. The novel arose in the 1930s when writer Huxley opened his mind and decided to launch readers into a reality far into the future that depicts a utopian tale with a terrifying twist, inventing a government that allows human beings to be created through a genetically engineered system designed by radical science. Humans have become products awaiting years of sleep-trained conditioning where societal rules, thought patterns and judgements are implanted firmly into their minds and are unable to be altered. Before these brand new humans can begin to create their identity, the system does this for them by giving them an ascribed status within society – Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta or Epsilon. The emphasis on the division of the classes is a prominent theme throughout the novel. Alphas’ are considered the highest social class, obtaining the best genes, earning the biggest salaries and living the fanciest lifestyles. The social classes gradually become weaker, leaving the so called “semi-moron” Epsilons to fulfil their duties as unattractive people, whose biggest talents come as far as being able to clean up after everyone else.

In Huxley’s utopian world there are no stigmas attached to sex; feel free to be with and sleep with whoever you want, free of judgements and unwanted consequences. Sex isn’t about making – dare to say the forbidden word – families. Sex is about having a good time, a chance to show off your alpha status and build a reputation. Secondly, in this age scientists have produced a drug equivalent to the purest ecstasy – without the side effects, and it’s a drug everybody loves to call “soma”. Thirdly, virtually all diseases that threatened to wipe out mankind are no longer a threat. No one’s heard of cancer or Alzheimer’s in AD 2450! Not only that, but you’ll stay looking young till the day you die. Life is a smooth, organised and successful system that everyone is happy to follow. An example of just how happy someone can be is portrayed by the character Lenina Crowne, a beautiful Alpha female adored by plenty. No questions asked. No doubt about any of it…

…Unless you’re a man called John. Unless you’re an Alpha-Minus named Bernard Marx that doesn’t fit in and has nothing to show for himself. Then you might just have the start of a revolution on your hands. You might just have two people that begin to wonder if this brave new world is merely just a brainwashing concept designed to maintain and emphasise a caste system, where the idea of achieved status is impossible. Your identity, was and never will be, your choice.

Aldous Huxley’s take on a reality that is only supposed to be fiction becomes a horrifying possibility to any that reads it. A reality so vivid, so well explained and so eye-opening that readers will put the book down for a moment to truly question their own reality and whether or not they’re just as oppressed as the characters in this story. For now, we can take peace in knowing that we’re still back in 2016, getting pregnant and choosing our thoughts and futures.

Or are we really choosing our thoughts and futures? Have these choices come from within us, or influenced by an outside source that tells us those are the right choices? You can decide.

Written by Courtney Ann

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