Brave New World (Huxley, 1932)
Serving as a pharmaceutical 1984, Brave New World presents a life much like our own. There are jobs to do. Play to be had. Races to be won. But in the distant future of A.F. 623 (2540 A.D.), Aldus Huxley presents a world where the race is pre-determined. The play approved by the state. The job a distraction to keep social order. Happiness is found in the bottom of a Soma bottle, a pharmaceutical agent that ensures a docile and pleasant body politic. Words like “Mother,” and “Father,” have become scandalous questions only answerable by elders. Perversions used by savages that refuse enlightenment, because in the brave new London of the future everyone belongs to everyone else. Families have been deemed inefficient, and a competing loyalty to the state. People are no longer born. They’re bottled.
Bokanovsky’s process saves time in a bottle. No longer does one fertilized human egg mean one human adult. Bokanovskification allows one fertilized human egg to be divided and multiplied up to ninety-six siblings. These siblings are raised in the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, where public education begins at the point of conception. The children are sleep-conditioned by voices that say, “Everyone belongs to everyone else,” and “A gram (of Soma) is better than a damn.”
Its in the process where the caste system is established. The world is ran by Alpha’s. They have access to all their natural emotions, intellect, and abilities. But as leaders of the World State, theirs is a solemn duty to repress them. Going down the alphabet to Epsilon, each person is separated and subjugated by the greek letter given to them at birth. Embryos from each rung of the ladder exposed to different damaging levels of x-rays. The longer the exposure, the greater the damage, the further down the caste system a person is born. Epsilons are sub-moronic, understanding only simple instructions. Living simple lives of physical labor, Epsilons are happy to clean. They’re not capable of complex thought, so what else is there for them than work and Soma and sex? Happiness is the default setting of the World State across the caste system. This is summarized in the World State motto: “Community, Identity, Stability.”
This leaves little room for the individual, relegated to outcast reservations in uncivilized parts of the world. Indian Reservations in the American Southwest were left alone to form families, pass along old religions, and die as free men. There is danger in the reservations, which is novel to the conditioned residents of London. This curiosity leads them to holiday at the Reservations. Linda from London got lost on holiday and lived the next twenty years among the savages. Her son, John, grows up an outsider. His heritage keeps him from assimilating into the local culture. Linda teaches him to read, and her boyfriend gives him an ancient copy of The Complete Works of Shakespear. He’s granted a glimpse of the world before Bokanovsky’s process. The stranger in a strange land given an identity to hold onto, a culture to call his own.
But as John would discover once he’s brought to London, that culture is centuries out of date. A man out of time sent to a future that sees him as cheap content to consume. He sees the London of Shakespear’s stories turned into a playground for well-kept pets that do not suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, because the bows themselves have been banned. The sea of troubles has been calmed. It is a society asleep in Soma. Unable to go home, but desperate to escape, John ventures off into the undiscovered country, desperate to find what dreams may come.
Hamlet’s Soliloquy, "To Be Or Not To Be," a Modern English Translation - The LitCharts Blog
(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)