English 11-4 Red
9 April 2019
Brave New World Research Paper
Imagine a controlled scientific experiment consisting of several trials. Various groups of subjects undergo different tests and conditions, and those who fit in most suitably with their surroundings survive. The gene pool decreases with each new trial, ultimately creating a strong and selective group of test subjects, all with similar genes. After undergoing numerous experiments, the test subjects begin to lose their individuality and instead conform due to their survival instincts. This is essentially what Aldous Huxley alludes to in his dystopian novel, Brave New World. He writes about a society in which the citizens who conform thrive, and those who choose otherwise, such as Bernard Marx and John the Savage, face dire consequences. In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley effectively portrays Bernard and John as foils to highlight the destructive effects of forced uniformity on society.
Before one can discuss the foil Huxley uses, one must first have a clear understanding of what characterizes a foil pair. A foil pair involves characters whose contrasting traits accentuate each others most significant qualities (CITE). Some authors, such as Huxley, create a foil pair to relay an important message to the readers. Foils can play any role in the literary work. For example, in Huxleys novel, Bernard and John are both the protagonists. Huxleys foil pair stresses the importance of individual expression in a society in order to promote necessary diversity.
The first character who Huxley introduces as part of the foil pair is Bernard Marx. Bernard originates from the World State in London and lives there for the majority of his life. Thus, he knows little about the various groups of people living outside his community. Bernard is an offspring of Bokanovskys Process a process in which at most 96 clones result from the division of one female egg (Huxley 6). The Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning describes Bokanovskys Process as one of the major instruments of social stability (Huxley 7). Through this process, the World State government intends to build a strong, stable society not only by controlling the populations genes, but by controlling its actions and emotions as well. Bernard experienced a genetic mutation during the cloning process, so he is not genetically identical to the other clones created from the same mother egg. The World State scientists added alcohol to Bernards blood-surrogate, an experiment that results in Bernard undergoing physical mutations, such as stunted growth, as well as mental differences, such as intellectual superiority (Huxley 60). From his birth, this immediately creates a barrier between Bernard and the other members of his community, ultimately labeling him as a social pariah. Even though Bernard is an Alpha, he receives degrading remarks and unpleasant looks from other World State citizens. As Benito, a fellow World State citizen, makes known Bernards mutation, he says the alcohol Touched his brain, I suppose (Huxley 60). Such belittling remarks make Bernard feel like an outsider; and feeling an outsider he behaved like one, which increased the prejudice against him and intensified the contempt and hostility aroused by his physical defects. Which in turn increased his sense of being alien and alone. A chronic fear of being slighted made him avoid his equals, made him stand, were his inferiors were concerned, self-consciously on his dignity (Huxley 65). This emphasizes that Bernards separation is partially self-inflicted; however, he takes such measures as to avoid social scenes because he does not want to put up with others mocking him. In the beginning, Bernard undergoes intellectual separation; however, the degree of his isolation escalates throughout the novel.
By the end of the novel, Mustapha Mond, the regions World Controller, exiles Bernard to an island with his friend, Helmholtz, because they are unable to conform to the uniformity within the World State (Huxley 226). Since the first time Huxley introduces Bernard to the readers, Bernard has always wondered what life would be like without conditions such as hypnopedia and soma. He even brings this topic up to Lenina as they fly in his propeller. He says, I wonder what it would be like if I could, if I were free not enslaved by my conditioning (Huxley 91). In this situation, Lenina, Bernard Marxs love interest, plays the role of the oblivious woman who does not allow herself to see the truth. Like the majority of the other World State citizens, Lenina is content with her counterfeit, structured lifestyle and, therefore, she does not want to imagine a life without her soma. Society frowns upon people expressing passionate emotions or unique qualities, which results in retribution. Therefore, citizens feel a pressure to set aside their diversifying characteristics in order to earn their communitys acceptance. However, those who refuse to conform to social standards live in isolation (Firchow 456). Bernards true emotions arise to the surface when Mustapha says he is sending them away to Iceland. He begs the Controller Oh, please dont send me to Iceland. I promise Ill do what I ought to do. Give me another chance (Huxley 226). It is ironic that Bernard does not want to leave the World State, yet as previously mentioned he always dreams of freedom. This reinforces mankinds desire to fit in and coexist with others even when they are unhappy and do not agree with the social norms.
Huxley creates John the Savage as the foil of Bernard Marx. John originates from the Indian Reservation and lives there for the majority of his childhood. Johns mother, Linda, is the Reservations notorious outcast who has a bad reputation mainly because she sleeps around with multiple men (Huxley 121). Due to his mothers ostracized state within the Reservation community, John, like Bernard, is born a social pariah. The other boys in the Reservation affront Linda in Johns presence, ridicule Johns clothes, and stone him as punishment for his different characteristics and abilities (Huxley 129). John is unlike the other boys his age on the Reservation because he knows how to read (Huxley 129). Linda always tells John stories about her place of birth, the Other Place, which is better known as the World State. John dreams of one day travelling to the Other Place because he thinks life will resemble the fantasies that he reads about in Shakespeares plays. To John, the World State sounds like the perfect place for him to create an improved life for himself. When Bernard offers to take John back to the World State with him and Lenina, John becomes ecstatic.
Upon arriving at the World State, John instantly feels overwhelmed. He does not know how to react because he is unfamiliar with its rigid and technological lifestyle. John does not understand the structure of the World State and the importance of its systems and inventions, such as Bokanovskys Process and soma. John rejects anyone who offers him soma because he believes soma is the cause of Lindas death. He demands others Throw it all away, that horrible poison (Huxley 211). Through such words and actions, John poses as a threat to the World States structure. He is ignorant to the fact that that the citizens do not control their own thoughts and actions, so they cannot make their own decisions.
Instead of experiencing a rebirth, the World State alienates John to a greater extent than Bernards alienation. In the end of the book, John commits suicide because he cannot handle the overpowering pressures he faces from the technologically advanced and inhumane society. John self-mutilates himself several times throughout the novel. For example, he confesses to Bernard that once he rested against a boulder in the blazing sun, in resemblance of Jesus crucifixion. He did so because he wanted to experience suffering, feel true emotions, and find true happiness (Huxley 137). By the end, though, John kills himself out of hatred for his actions. Suicide is the worst way of self-mutilating oneself; yet by the end of the novel, John feels the need to resort to killing himself to end the pain and delusional suffering he faces in the dystopian society. By sleeping with Lenina, John feels he has reached this tremendously low state of morality because of the influences the World State has on him. He cannot resist giving into the World States standards because he would have otherwise felt alone and unwanted.
Bernard and John are foils of each other because they possess contrasting traits and backgrounds. Both characters come from different communities and grow up surrounded by distinct cultures and social regulations. Thus, Huxley emphasizes that not one sole society is at fault of forcing conformity; rather, the issue of conformity is prevalent in many communities throughout the world. Bernard comes from a technologically futuristic and authoritarian society, while John grows up living a more natural and simplistic lifestyle on the Reservation. Both societies, however, remain alienated from outside communities. For example, Lenina and Bernard react out of astonishment when they first see an old, unhealthy-looking Indian man crawling down a ladder. This is the first time they have seen a human who physically looks old. Bernard explains that in the World State, the elderly receive treatment to prevent them from obtaining the diseases and disabilities that normally emerge as one grows older (Huxley 110). Aging is a part of the natural life cycle, yet the World State uses science and medicine to cure the elderly of any sickness. Just as Lenina and Bernard have never seen an old person, John has never before met a white person. When John first sees Lenina on the Reservation, he gave a gasp and was silent, gaping, because up until this point in his life, he had never before seen a light-skinned woman (Huxley 117). Through the reactions of Lenina towards the old person and of John towards Lenina, Huxley satires the negative effects the incognizance of diverse cultures has on diverse communities. The citizens of both villages feel content in their current position of ignorance; therefore, they see no reason to disrupt their comfort by interacting with other societies, even if it means surrendering their identity.
Bernard and John are the two most ostracized characters in the novel because they fail to succumb to the social norms in each of their societies. Huxley uses Bernards exile and Johns suicide to emphasize the negative effects conformity has on a society. First, uniformity leads to a societys isolation. For example, the vast majority of the World States citizens have no knowledge of any society outside of the World State. The Director purposely prevents his citizens from traveling to an outside community, which Huxley exhibits through Bernard asking permission to visit the Indian Reservation (Huxley 95). The Director only reluctantly grants Bernard permission to leave the World State.
Uniformity not only limits peoples knowledge, but it also leads to a lack of diversity and identity in a society. The citizens of the World State do not have the ability to think for themselves. For example, the scientists control their thoughts using hypnop?dia the process of using repetitive monologue to teach people in their sleep. The citizens of the World State do not experience genuine emotions because they are almost always under the influence of soma, which is a drug the World State provides for its citizens that influences their states of mind. Due to a combination of eugenics, drugs, and excessive sheltering, the majority of those living in the World State society fail to undergo genuine emotions (Firchow 453). For example, as Lenina converses with her friend, Fanny, in the dressing room, Fanny says, And do remember that a gramme is better than a damn (Huxley 55). The only emotions the World State citizens are aware of is fake pleasure and joy, for they are oblivious to any knowledge with respect to true, human-like sentiments (Firchow 453). When times become rough for a citizen, they simply take a couple grammes of soma to alleviate their stress. They rarely face their obstacles, which justifies taking the easy way out of a difficult situation and teaches them that emotions are dangerous and abnormal. Some citizens willingly surrender their identity to the World State in order to fit in to the standards of their social classes.
Along with stripping away peoples identities, uniformity in a society also prevents citizens social mobility. The World State has a very rigid class structure. At the top are the Alphas, then the Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons. Once born into a social class, a citizen cannot become a member of another class. The technologically advanced communities excessively merge their inhabitants to the extent of homogeneity. If one chooses originality over conformity, he or she will experience segregation within his or her social class (Firchow, 459). The lower class citizens are genetically and physically inferior, and the scientists program them to treat those of higher classes with respect (Huxley . For example, Huxley describes a lower-class citizen, who is likely of a darker race, as a small simian creature, dressed in the black tunic of an Epsilon-Minus Semi-Moron (Huxley 58). In other words, Huxley gives this laborer several animalistic qualities, while he illustrates the Alphas as lighter-skinned and more humane figures (Congdon 91). This aspect of having a harsh class system resembles racism, which is a major social issue that proves toxic to any community. Oftentimes, the gap between social classes often leads to the downfall of a society.
The World State impresses uniformity among its citizens, which ultimately results in a lack of human emotions, individuality, and social mobility, and it instead promotes racism. Huxley emphasizes the negative effects mentioned above with the use of a foil brought about through Bernard and John. The theory of survival of the fittest presents itself in the resolution of Huxleys novel. Bernard and John represent the moral members of a community; however, they are so outnumbered by the immoral and ignorant members that their efforts to find social righteousness are not strong enough to overcome adversity. In this large-scale scientific experiment conducted by the World State government, those who cannot learn to coexist with their environment have little chance of finding success.