Wednesday, December 20th, 2017
The Dangers of scientific advancements in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World
Aldous Huxley’s 1932 Brave New World uses a futuristic dystopian society to warn readers of the negative effects of scientific advancements. The novel is set roughly seven centuries after 1947, referred to as 632 A.F., representing 632 years after the death of Henry Ford. This illustrates the praise given to the creator of Ford Motors, and the significance of his work, especially concerning the great innovation of the assembly line. Jhan Hochman, a writer for Novels for Students, says the following:
“The most damning critique of Western industrialism is indicated by the “God” worshipped in this future world-society: American car manufacturer and assembly line innovator, Henry Ford (1863-1947). In Huxley’s dystopia, not only does calendar time begin with Ford’s birth (the novel takes place in “A.F. 632”-A.F. stands for “After Ford”), but industry board rooms are sanctuaries for worshipping the Lord, Ford. … And the way to this non-eternal salvation is found through the production and consumption of products made in factories not so unlike those once producing Ford’s Model T, the first successfully mass-produced car from an assembly line. One special product that is mass-produced on assembly lines in A.F. 632 is the Human being. To ensure that there are enough-but not too many workers and consumers, human life is carefully controlled from conception to death by two methods: outright control of the numbers and types of babies born and subconscious conditioning of people’s thoughts.” (65).
Hochman remarks on the potential dangers of science as he also noted that this dystopian society had profound effects on the thoughts of the citizens through the “conditioning of people’s thoughts” (65). Overall, Hochman depicted the hidden message of Huxley’s novel: the negative effects of scientific advancements.
In the novel, ten World Controllers rule the world population and their responsibilities are to ensure the stability of society and to maintain regimentation. This is accomplished through the creation of order classes, a five-tiered system commencing with the scientists and politicians who compose the classes of the Alphas and Betas. The Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons are the lower industrial working class.
The novel begins in the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre where a group of students are touring the facility. While on the tour with the director, the students observe an assembly line that creates embryos through artificial birth. The Director explains to the students that human beings are no longer necessary to produce offspring as the Hatchery now surgically removes the ovaries that produce ova to fertilize the artificial fetuses. Each fetus is shocked in egg form so that it can divide and form up to ninety-six indistinguishable embryos, which develop into ninety-six indistinguishable humans.
The Director brings the group of touring students to the Nurseries where they observe a group of Delta babies being presented with books and flowers. As the babies gain interest in the books and flowers and crawl close to them, they receive a mild electric shock. After two hundred sessions of mild electric shock, the lower-class babies such as the Deltas, Gammas, and Epsilons develop a hatred for the flowers and books, and grow to live in terror of them, never wanting to explore with imagination or self-curiosity. They do this because they want to prevent the lower classes gaining interest in anything that might reverse them from their set condition.
In addition, Jhan Hochman states that “human life is carefully controlled from conception to death by two methods: control of the numbers and types of babies born and subconscious conditioning of people’s thoughts.” (65). Hochman initially remarked on the potential dangers of science as he noted this dystopian society had profound effects on the thoughts of the citizens. Furthermore, Hochman adds,
“Once “hatched” or “decanted”, infants are conditioned by hypnopaedia (repeated messages played during sleep) and negative stimulus (electric shock) to, for instance, hate nature. The reason for this desirable hatred of nature is simple: an appreciation of nature takes people away from their duties of production and consumption; citizens are therefore made to believe that they can live in a natural environment only if they are wearing special clothing. Continuously conditioned by repeated messages to be happy with their own caste and world, people are distracted from possible thoughts of rebellion by participating in sports, watching entertaining shows that also serve as subtle propaganda, enjoying causal and frequent sex, and by using the drug “soma,” a kind of mood-stabilizer regularly handed out free-of-charge in the workplace.” (65).
Hochman secondly remarks the societal norms the citizens are forced to live through. They are forced into hating nature because it gives them a sense of self thought and imagination, taking them away from their jobs for society and potentially exposing the truth; the dangers of scientific advancements.
One of the ten World Controllers, Mustapha Mond states, “They’ll grow up with what the psychologists used to call an ‘instinctive’ hatred of books and flowers. Reflexes unalterably conditioned. They’ll be safe from books and botany all their lives.” (Chapter 2). In saying this, Mond is explaining the affects of the treatment but follows with declaring that they will essentially be safe from obstacles that could stand in the way of the completion of their factory work for the society. They do not allow the love of nature and literature within the lower classes as they want to prevent individualism in one’s thoughts.
Due to their power, the opinions of the World Controllers are immensely influential. One of the more prominent World Controllers is Mustapha Mond, a once young scientist who was working on illicit research. Upon their discovery of his work, he had two choices: train to become a World Controller or exile. He abandoned science for fear of exile, but still knows the truth of the dangers of scientific. As a World Controller, he has the power to enlighten the society of the truth and in choosing not to, it suggests that he is aware of the wrongdoings but will not do anything about it, whether out of fear or negligence.
Richard H. Beckham, a featured author in Novels for Students talks about the drug “Soma” and how the characters in the book use it to remain happy. Beckham states, “Sufficient to distract the population and dissuade them from rebellion, Huxley foresees a culture in which widespread and addictive use of drugs offers a second means of assuring a frictionless society” (68). In saying this, Beckham is illustrating what needs to be done for the society to abide by the norm set in place by the Controllers, so the world is indeed frictionless. The masses take Soma to in their knowledge, eliminate any risk of feeling pain, but Soma eliminates any possibility of self thought that would rupture the static societal routine or give them the ability to think of the truth that is buried away from their knowledge. The World Controllers introduced Soma to avoid a rebellion from the population to revert to the old practices of society currently abandoned, but still practiced on the savage reserves.
Savage Reservations, areas that were considered too expensive to civilize were left behind from society and separated from the new up and coming hopefuls. Caitrin Keiper, a writer for The New Atlantis states, “One member of their civilization, left behind some twenty years before, has borne a son and raised him on the reservation.” (Keiper, thenewatlantis.com). Keiper discusses how on the Savage Reservation in New Mexico, a woman who was once part of society gave birth to a boy and was banished for the act. Now living on the reservation without order classes, days go by without problems and the inhabitants live their lives in peace without any influence of scientific advancements.
To Concluded, throughout the novel Brave New World, Aldous Huxley has the means to convey his message about the dangers of scientific advancements by creating a futuristic dystopian society to warn the readers about the possibilities of what’s to come. With man’s constant drive to master all forms of science and leave nothing to the unknown for the potential benefit of society, the risk of devastation and disaster is immense.