Comparisons and Contrasts of 1984 ; Brave New World
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There are two novels that stand out in literature which display a sense of supreme control of society by a government in some future time. George Orwell’s `1984′, which was first published in 1949, creates a nightmarish vision of what the world may become via a `negative utopia’ and Aldous Huxley’s `Brave New World’, which was published in 1932, depicts a future society where everyone is conditioned to be eternally happy with their station in life and completely devoid of emotion.
The two novels have been compared to current events (versus to each other that this paper addresses) xhaustively over the last fifty years although `1984′ is being quoted more recently in popular television shows such as `Big Brother’ in the United States and `Room 101′ in the United Kingdom. `Brave New World’ is the story about a future time where society is completely under control of the government. The latest technology is on display where everyone has their own helicopter and can travel from place to place very quickly. Children are not born but `hatched’ using embryos from females that are artificially fertilized.
They are pre-programmed during the gestation process and fter they are born to belong to a specific group of society as well as to accept their predestination in life. This creates equality amongst the population so that no one group can grow too large. The five groups or castes are Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Epsilon. The Alpha’s and the Beta’s are the best of the bunch or the intellectuals, followed by the Gamma’s, Deltas’, and Epsilon’s, who form the lower `working’ class of society, with very little intellectual capacity. Humans are identically produced and conditioned to love and adhere to their station in life without question.
Conditioning continues as humans are taught to consume oods in the capitalist system and to constantly undergo activities to support society, even when they are not working. This leaves no time for reflection or idle thought. History is neither recorded nor taught. The only focus is on the present and the future. Humans have no parents or siblings and don’t get married. Sex between adults is for pure enjoyment with no emotional ties. In the future, you can have sex with whomever you want, whenever you want. Whenever human emotions attempt to surface, they take the drug `soma’, which makes one feel happy and relieves worries.
Bernard Marx, an Alpha Plus, is one of the main rotagonists in the story. He is not happy with society, questions its inner workings and feels that he doesn’t fit in. He develops a relationship with Lenina Crowne, who has some mild emotional feelings of her own. They travel on vacation to a `Reservation’, a zoo of sorts that contains humans that have not been conditioned, but rather born the natural way from a mother. They are called Indians and believe in Jesus Christ. While there they meet savages Linda and her son John. Linda explains that she was from the outside world but got lost one day and couldn’t get out.
Linda has had a rough time in the eservation, as their ways were much different than she was accustomed to. She had a son, John, whose father works as a Director in the government. Bernard decides to take Linda and John out of the Reservation as part of an experiment, to see how they would fare in the `Brave New World’. Bernard introduces the Director to his former lover Linda and his unknown son John. The Director, facing embarrassment from society at having sired a child, resigns in disgrace. John, also known as the `savage’, is taken on a tour of the new world by Bernard, who now appears to be accepting society and fitting in.
John is very iscouraged about this society as he notices how generic people are and they don’t know love. John takes over the protagonist role in the story from Bernard. Linda begins taking `soma’ and eventually dies. John also develops a love for Lenina but his encounters with her leave him in disdain. Eventually Bernard is exiled to an island of intellectuals that couldn’t fit in to the Brave New World and John eventually takes his own life, as he also doesn’t fit in to the Brave New World. The novel 1984 is quite different in its approach to the future and effects of governmental control of society. Unlike `Brave
New World’, the use of technology and modern conveniences are only for the upper castes of the government. The rest of society must make do with old razors for shaving, dilapidated housing, bad food, and synthetic gin. Winston Smith, the protagonist in the story, works for the government at the `Ministry of Truth’. Here, his daily duties are to re-write history the way the government wants it. He lives in a totalitarian society that rules his country, Oceania. Each home contains a `telescreen’, which monitors the activities of its citizens and is constantly displaying government propaganda to brainwash them for proper conditioning.
The government is in control of history and can modify it to suit their wishes at any time. The government in the story is known as `Big Brother’. Winston constantly fears the `Thought Police’, a division of the Big Brother, as he begins writing anti-government thoughts in a diary he keeps. He finds evidence that the government has changed history and starts to despise the government for its use of psychological manipulation to maintain control. Winston participates in morning group exercises via the telescreen and also “Hate Week”, which is a chance for the citizens to display their hate against enemies of Big Brother.
Children are taught to spy on their parents and turn them in to the authorities. Proles, the biggest population of society, are not ruled by Big Brother but are uninterested in revolting, mostly due to ignorance and the belief that they are not being oppressed. Winston meets Julia, who also works for the party. They fall in love and have sex on a frequent basis for pleasure purposes. Sex in the Big Brother society is only for re-creation not recreation. This puts Winston in danger. Julia is mindful of her life and what the government is doing but is not affected by it and has learned to get by putting on a good act.
She is not interested in rebellion. They meet secretly to have sex and discuss their misgivings about Big Brother. Unbeknownst to them, they are being watched. Winston eventually meets O’Brien, who he believes is for a rebellion against the government. Winston confides in O’Brien but is soon arrested by the Thought Police, led by O’Brien. O’Brien tortures Winston and Julia, brainwashing them to accept what the government tells them is the absolute truth. They eventually give in and are returned to society, mere shells of the people they once were. While the two stories differ, they contain many common similarities.
The Proles and the savages on the Reservation, the protagonists Winston and Bernard, soma and gin, Shakespearian references, Big Brother and Ford, Julia and Lenina, the lack of sexual jealously, governmental control through the use of technology, psychological manipulation, physical control via torture, and information and history are a few examples. Some of these similarities are compared and contrasted between the two novels on the following pages. Winston Smith from 1984 and Bernard Marx from Brave New World are both protagonists in their respective novels. They share similar qualities but for different reasons.
Winston feels a strong desire to rebel against the government as he feels they have too strong of a hold on society. His acts of rebellion include writing in his diary, having sex with Julia, and teaming up with O’Brien and the Underground for future rebellion. He feels a certain power when he encounters a false story while doing his job one day. “Winston finally realizes, eleven years after the fact, that he held in his hands a document that could `blow the party to atoms’. For thirteen seconds before sending the picture into the memory chute, Winston Smith had in his hands the fate of Oceania.
Winston latently wants hat power again, and the novel is propelled by that desire. ” (Place) He writes in his diary to regain the sense of power he felt at work as well as his feelings about the past, but does not feel a sense of mental release from the government’s control. “The party controls every facet of his being, including his dreams in which only remnants surface… to realize the truth about his past, in his time away from work, he must physically remove himself from anything that represents the party. ” (Place) His relationship with Julia and spending time with her in the room above the antique gift shop enable him to do just that.
Winston has the elements of revelation here, as he finally escapes, at least mentally, the control of `Big Brother’”. (Place) Winston understands that humans in his society are not in control of their minds, and when they begin to show signs of emotion or thinking for themselves, they are tortured into conforming. Winston’ relationship with Julia also enables him to further question the government. Julia is a free thinker and has sex with Winston as an act to rebel against the party. However Julia is more interested in the present, than with the past or the future. Julia’s approach to living is to break the rules while staying live.
Winston’s aim conversely is to undermine the Party. Julia evades authority; Winston seeks to rebel against it. ” (Tirohl) Bernard Marx in Brave New World also believes that governmental control is too strong. He is an Alpha Plus Intellectual who also works for the government but feels he does not fit in with society. “His discomfort with the commodification of sex marks him as a misfit” (Sparknotes). Like Winston in 1984, Bernard is also a rebel but not so much against the government but more of an innate feeling that he doesn’t belong. It comes from a sense that he might never ully belong to that society. ” (Sparknotes)
Bernard doesn’t like taking soma to relieve his conflicted emotions and is in disagreement with how sex is talked about so openly. When Lenina accepts Bernard’s invitation in front of a group of people to go on holiday together, Bernard is embarrassed and wishes she could have mentioned it in private. “Bernard feels terrible because Lenina behaved like a `healthy and virtuous English girl’, that is, someone unafraid of discussing her sexual life in public. (Sparknotes) Bernard displays sexual jealousy when speaking with Lenina, unlike Winston in 1984, who s quite ecstatic that Julia has had many sexual encounters with upper Party members.
Winston perceives this sexual act as rebellious as sex is not supposed to be for fun. Like Winston’s relationship with Julia, Bernard has a relationship with both Lenina and Helmholtz. Helmholtz shares Bernard’s rebellious ideas such as not participating in sex orgies, not taking soma, belief that the society is totalitarian, and viewing themselves as individuals.
The essay in Sparknotes concludes similarities with Bernard and Helmholtz, both Alpha Plus who share a “… mutual dissatisfaction with the status quo and their shared nclination to view themselves as individuals. ” (Sparknotes) In converse to Bernard, Helmholtz believes that society is too happy and there must be more meaning. Lenina is unlike Julia although she does display four month affection for only one man, Henry Foster, which is frowned upon. Lenina is also deeply troubled when they visit the Reservation. She yearns to take soma to relieve herself but soon finds none is available.
In addition, Lenina displays emotions while on a date with Henry Foster looking over the crematorium from their helicopter, “As Henry and Lenina contemplate the crematorium; they ome close to acknowledging that the caste system may be less than perfect. ” (Sparknotes) However, Lenina is soon calmed by one of her hypnopaedic conditioning phrases that retreats her back to her happy world. Bernard’s act of bringing the savages to society is seen as noble at first but then discounted by the world controller who eventually sends Bernard off to Isolation on an island.
However, when taking John around the world, Bernard attains a sort of celebrity status and begins to feel that he fits in to society and becomes less protagonistic. He begins having sex with all sorts of woman and njoys all the attention. This soon fades as “Bernard sinks back into his former melancholia now that his newfound success has evaporated… John and Helmholtz meet, and take to one another right away. Bernard is jealous of their affection for one another and wishes he had never brought them together.
He takes soma to escape his feelings. (Sparknotes) It is here that we find out that his rebellious acts were more for personal gratification of fitting in to society, not from his dislike of it and its totalitarian ways. Governmental control is prevalent throughout both novels ia psychological, physical, and the control of information and history. In 1984, society is fed endless propaganda about the party’s success via the telescreen, which is also used to monitor its inhabitants. Big Brother posters are everywhere to remind everyone of their standing in life.
This has a strong psychological effect on their intellect. These devices are implemented to ensure society’s allegiance to the party, that people aren’t individualistic; survival through groups is the only way. The propaganda is usually about the Party’s so called enemies and their success in the war, which Julia elieves isn’t really happening when she states `… in her opinion the war was not really happening.
The rocket bombs which fell daily on London were probably fired by the government of Oceania itself, `just to keep the people frightened’. (Orwell, 153) When speaking directly about organizations, such as the one in 1984, Huxley states in Brave New World Revisited that `An organization is neither conscious nor alive. Its value is instrumental and derivative. It is not good in itself; it is good only to the extent that it promotes the good of the individuals who are the parts of the collective whole. (Huxley, 21) Clearly the party is doing this for their own power, not for the good of the people. There are also `Junior Spies’, made up of children spying on their family, further removing any sense of freedom when you are at home.
This removes the true nature of a family, which has also been removed in Brave New World. The belief in Brave New World is that “citizens of the World State have no fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, children, or lovers, because such relationships produce emotional (and therefore social) instability, strife, and unhappiness. ” (Sparknotes) This further removes any emotional ties to eople. In 1984, “The party also forces individuals to suppress their sexual desires, treating sex merely as a procreative duty whose end is the creation of new Party members. (Sparknotes)
Tirohl Blu, in his article about sexuality in 1984, explains “When you make love you’re using up energy; and afterwards you feel happy and don’t give a damn for anything. They can’t bear you to feel like that. They want you to be bursting with energy all the time… If you’re happy inside yourself, why should you get excited about Big Brother. ” (Tirohl) The Party channels pent-up sexual energy into the `two minute hate’ or Hate Week”, long days at work, and morning exercises to marshal their control.
Lastly, the application of physical torture to make people conform, when all other methods have failed, is the most violent. Bernard is tortured after being arrested when he does not conform to the Party’s teachings. “After being subjected to weeks of this intense treatment, Winston himself comes to the conclusion that nothing is more powerful than physical pain–no emotional loyalty or moral conviction can overcome it. By conditioning the minds of their victims with physical torture, the Party is able to control reality. Convincing its subjects that 2+2=5. (Sparknotes) In Brave New World, society is conditioned at birth to behave a certain way.
Thus, their psychological capabilities are pre-defined. In 1984, where control is maintained by constant government monitoring, physical control and psychological manipulation, “… power in Brave New World is maintained through technological interventions that starts before birth and last until death, and that actually change what people want. ” (Sparknotes) The use of hatcheries and conditioning to pre-define people’s station in life is the major government control. Throughout their childhood and dolescence people are taught in their sleep, and they learn to give up truth and beauty for ignorant bliss. ” (Huxley)
The society in Brave New World is always happy and always consuming, moving from one activity to the next without any reflection through the use of conditioning and drugs. “But there is a dark side to this happiness, for it travels hand in hand with suppression of the truth about human nature, the use of technology to control society, soulless sex and mind numbing drug use. (O’Neill)
Bernard discusses the human intellect with the world controller and “Mond argues that the divided llegiances of individuals produce social instability. For this reason, the World State has eliminated all traces of non-State institutions. The citizen is socialized to only have an allegiance to the State; personal connections of all sorts are discouraged, and even the desire to develop such connections is conditioned away. ” (Sparknotes) Where 1984 uses the telescreen, Brave New World uses the `feelies’ to promote the sexual freedom of society.
The `feelies’ are the popular films where filmgoers sit in special chairs that allow them to feel and interact with the movie. The plots are simple, and often involve ex. “The new films, which also stimulate the senses of touch and smell, are perfectly in tune with the hedonistic social picture that takes shape before the reader’s eyes: together with the children’s erotic play and the conversations… they characterize a world which reifies individuals and predetermines the satisfaction of sexual desires. ” (Varicchio) Another theme of comparison is between the Proles of 1984 and the Savages on the Reservation in Brave New World.
Both novels use these groups as a mechanism to give their respective stories an opposing view of society in order to draw comparisons and display a ink to the past. In 1984, the Proles make up most of civilization in terms of sheer numbers but they don’t feel repressed by the government and will therefore never rebel against it. The Proles represent the world before the government seized total control. One day, while in his room above the antique shop, Winston notices a Prole woman with a red cloth on her arm singing while doing her daily chores.
This provides Winston with the hope that the Proles will someday rise up against the Party, that the Proles possess humanity. The Reservation also represents society before government control. The Proles in 1984 nd the Reservation in Brave New World act as windows to the past. They are on display for society to see how bad their life could be if it weren’t for the government. There are other comparisons between the two novels such as the government control of history in 1984, whereas in Brave New World, the government doesn’t care about history.
Both stories use Shakespeare to draw out emotions from the pre-programmed society. In 1984, they hang their enemies whereas in Brave New World they are sent off to Isolation as defects. Soma is the drug of choice in Brave New World, its synthetic gin in 1984. Both drugs are used to reduce or repress their emotions when conditioning and brainwashing have failed. The governments in both stories believe they have created a utopia but have really created a dystopia. However, they contrast greatly in their methods.
In Brave New World Revisited, Huxley explains `The society described in Orwell’s fable is a society permanently at war, and the aim of its rulers is first, or course, to exercise power for its own delightful sake, and, second, to keep their subjects in that state of constant tension which a state of constant war demands of those who wage it… The society described in Brave New World is a world-state, in which war has been eliminated and where the first aim of the rules is at all costs to keep their subjects from making trouble. (Huxley, 21)
In 1984, society has been scared into believing anything by using fear of war and occasionally dropping bombs on the city to continue the fear. They also use physical torture via brainwashing when the telescreen doesn’t work and have to constantly monitor its citizens. In Brave New World, everyone is happy. The government doesn’t need to use physical torture or constant monitoring. They achieve their success by “legalizing a egree of sexual freedom (made possible by the abolition of the family) that practically guarantees the Brave New Worlders against any form of destructive (or creative) emotional tension.
In 1984 the lust for power is satisfied by inflicting pain; in Brave New World, by inflicting a hardly less humiliating pleasure. ” (Huxley, 21) It is this contrast in approaches to the same tenets that make a comparison worth pursuing. Huxley believes his version of the future is becoming real and discounts some of Orwell’s claims. Regardless, they both offer rather scary and realistic propositions of the future ahead.