Brave New World opens in a technically advanced future world. In the beginning of this book, we see the Director of World Hatcheries lead the new hatchery students on a tour of a Conditioning Center in London where babies are produced in bottles and pre-sorted to determine which class level they will be born into. These class levels range from Alpha-plus, the highest level, to Epsilon-minus, the lowest. There are no parents, and babies are conditioned from birth to learn certain behaviors. All diseases have been eliminated, and when people are feeling down, they just take soma, a wonder drug.
Also, people are conditioned from birth not to love one person, so there is no marriage and most people have many lovers. There is no God; instead, Henry Ford is worshipped as the god Ford. Another accomplishment of this society is the elimination of aging. Bernard Marx has unorthodox viewpoints and is outcast as an eccentric. He likes being alone, but in this society being alone is discouraged. His isolation from society has made him very different from everyone else. His only friend is Helmholtz Watson, an accomplished intellect who writes government propaganda.
Watson has grown wary of life as it is, and his supervisors have him under close watch. Two co-workers are discussing Lenina Crowne, another worker, in a changing room. They act as if she were property, able to be bought and sold. Bernard is disgusted by this, so he decides to ask Lenina to go to a Savage Reservation in New Mexico. Bernard visits the Director for permission to go. The Director tells a story of when he went to a Savage Reservation with Linda, a pretty colleague. During their visit, Linda was lost, and the Director had to leave.
So Bernard nd Lenina go to the Savage Reservation, which is inhabited by Indians. They quickly find Linda among the Indians. At first they do not realize who she is, but she explains what happened. Linda is aged and obese. Also, Linda has a son named John who is the Director’s child. John is educated and mature, having read Shakespeare (forbidden in civilization). Bernard takes the two back to London for study. Once back, Linda takes too much soma, so she falls into a coma. John is displayed by Bernard, who becomes a hero. But “the Savage” (as John is called) is frightened by the new world he sees.
The fear and oppression he experiences make him long for his old life. Lenina becomes infatuated with John, and her candid attempts to make him love her end with his becoming angry at her openness. John vows never to take soma, or to succumb to civilization. John believes he can save himself if he avoids this brave new world. John enjoys conversations with Helmholtz, and Bernard becomes jealous. They soon realize that the three of them are different from the rest of society. At the bedside of his dying mother, John becomes enraged and throws the hospital soma supply out he window.
Helmholtz and Bernard arrive, and Helmholtz helps John destroy the narcotic. Bernard deserts the two and calls a guard. The three are taken to see Mustapha Mond, an elder wise man. Mond knows that all three harbor revolutionary minds, so he tells them that their only option is to live on an island with other such people. Mond then explains how society has developed without public knowledge of history or literature. He explains that, in order to keep society at a balance where everyone is happy, only certain people can read these books.
The two men leave for the island, but John takes up residence in an abandoned lighthouse. He tries to “purify” himself from this awful society. Crowds soon come to see him, among them Lenina, whom he mauls terribly. He is given soma. When he awakens, he realizes what he has done, and he hangs himself. Huxley did an excellent job of portraying the possible future. The most prominent theme is alienation. Helmholtz, John, and Bernard were shunned for not having conventional beliefs. The future presented by Huxley is almost frightening, because in order to achieve happiness, individuality and knowledge ad to be sacrificed.
Huxley wrote this book to warn us. He wanted us to know that society should not be controlled, and that there is a price for a peaceful society. Since society is still the same in the end, Huxley shows the same hopelessness that George Orwell showed in 1984. I liked this book because Huxley paid attention to detail and created a thoroughly engrossing literary masterpiece. Huxley’s “predictions” have begun to become reality. For instance, soma is strikingly similar to prozac. Huxley’s thinking was truly ahead of its time.