Having recently finished reading Aldous Huxley's great prophetic masterpiece Brave New World, I thought I’d blog a little about the book and how it left me feeling. This book is no stranger to analysis being, as it is, a course book in many academic settings. That it is so, is no surprise. The book is one of the earliest mainstream examples of dystopian literature. First published in 1932 at the height of the great depression, the novel was written in Huxleys house in France. It was his fifth novel and first dystopian work. Huxley himself regarded the novel as a parody of the utopian novels of HG Wells which were extremely popular at the time, referring to it as a negative utopia.
The first thing which struck me about the book were the strong Shakespearian references throughout.
There are perceived allusions to both Hamlet and The Tempest among others however the most obvious nods are to these two plays. The Tempest has been often described as an allegory of imperialism since Prospero, the rightful Duke Of Milan decides to impose his values on the monstrous Caliban. The World State can be seen as the great civilising power sanctioning as it does, only English. The novel gives the impression that all other world cultures have been suppressed globally except for a few ‘reservations’. The character John further resemblees Caliban in that he becomes known as ‘The Savage” when he enters the mainstream world.
Furthermore, as the novel develops, the allusions to Hamlet become more apparent as John tries to balance his two weltanshauungen and their conflicting effects. He is an avid fan of Shakespeare and it seems Hamlet is his favourite play. In the novel there is no evidence of religion. The reader finds out that this is because God is incompatible with the automated mechanised society. The message is that society has eliminated suffering and therefore doesn't need God anymore.
It turns out that Huxleys Brave New World isn't just a portent about science, its also a warning about education and by extension, the media. The reality which becomes apparent is that it is possible to create any required reality in the minds of the citizens by constantly drip feeding them any truth as needed. In the novel, the mechanism used is called hypnopedia however the horrific parallels to modern life with its unabating indoctrinating media are clear. The warnings are stark. Question everything. Make up your own mind. Criticise. Doubt. Assume nothing. Every media agency in the world has its own agenda. Even the so called friendly ones. While were still in a position to seek out the truth its everybody responsibility to do so. Lets not mess things up.