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An exploration of Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World

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Introduction

An exploration into the theme of control in George Orwell's '1984' and Aldous Huxley's 'Brave New World' The novels 1984 and Brave New World portray a futuristic world where the authoritarian states have effectively manipulated the thoughts and actions of its population using various controlling methods which deny citizens their individuality. In both novels, leaders have attempted to create a Utopian society, one that they consider to maintain peace and stability but in which have become oppressive and tyrannical. To do this, history is distorted or ignored completely and control is used as a means to keep the population content and sufficed. The role of the dystopian novel is one that projects trends of the present world into the future, criticising and challenging the traits of today. Huxley aims to do this by offering us a warning of the dangers of giving the state control over new and powerful technologies. He provides a challenging, compelling vision of the future that entails the risks of developments in biotechnology and society. Orwell depicts the conflict between the individual and the social system. Through Winston he shows that one will feel isolated in a world that denies our needs and perceptions. In Brave New World, embryos are pre-conditioned into classes. The classes; Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons are programmed and treated using hypnopaedia to behave in certain ways that define their classes, hence allowing social stability. There is little individuality as every class is programmed to be suited to certain jobs and be content with their position in life. The inhabitants survive on superficial happiness. Huxley is exploring to what extent this is sufficient for the human being. He raises the question of whether human nature would be incomplete without love, emotions and compassion. In 1984, the population of Oceania is divided into two groups, much like classes. This includes the lower and upper Party members and the proletarians, who are defined as lower class. ...read more.

Middle

To avoid this, Party members try to keep 'correct' facial expressions and to behave appropriately at all times. Even the trustworthy and elite Inner Party members are watched by telescreens, though such security is less imposed on them. Such a form of control meant that one had to maintain an expressionless face and to instinctively control their actions. Orwell uses the telescreens to symbolise how the government abuses technology for its own needs, just as Brave New World does. He, like Huxley, also highlights that technology which is perceived to work towards moral good can also facilitate the most diabolical evil. The Party not only controlled thought but provoked it too. The Two Minutes Hate, in which most of the population had to take part in, was used to incite hatred towards Emmanuel Goldstein, a traitor against the Party who led a rebel party called the Brotherhood. The population was shown anti-Party material from the media to generate hate towards these enemies. This method created a revolting ecstasy of terror and vindictiveness that created a desire to kill and torture in an individual. This way, the Party achieved total control over thoughts. To control, fear was used to instigate the population into believing that thought deviation brings about death. Everyone lived under the fear and threat of each other, as even one's own family could denounce another to the Thought Police. An example of this feeling is what Winston experiences when he begins writing a diary. The Party effectively uses this method to break family ties, eliminating trust which could give rise to rebellion. Parents no longer discipline their children as in the Parson's family as often children overheard compromising remarks from within their families and condemned their parents to the Thought Police. They were often celebrated in the media as "child heroes". Similarly, Brave New World uses the constant observation of those around you to create suspicion and fear. ...read more.

Conclusion

Its control methods are perhaps incongruent with human nature itself. In Brave New World, history is completely ignored and focus is exerted on the present and future of the state. The effect of this shapes people and their thoughts of history through the way it undertones the negative social differences of previous generations. The controllers of this society ignored the positive aspects of the previous world in order to make the new society devoid of any similarities. In 1984, control over individuals has gone to the extent that the Party even has power over memories. Individuals can never be sure if their memories are real or state-enforced. At one point in the novel, Winston questions Julia on whether "the past, starting yesterday, has actually been abolished..." Every record has been destroyed and falsified, every picture re-painted and every date altered. The past has been changed for the interest of the present and future. Although everything from the past is forbidden, there are no laws against them. The superior members have created a society where unwritten law prohibits and controls individuals. Brave New World and 1984 both use the idea of control but more likely, their authors had different intentions in portraying a futuristic world with tyrannical elements. Huxley intended to create a society that was not entirely bad, on the surface it is an acceptable society but one that has totalitarianism outlining it. He urges us to be appreciative of love, relationships and individuality. In 1984, Orwell uses Winston to represent a view of the future overridden by fear and propaganda. He presents a society that abuses human endeavour in an effort to monitor and control its population. Both of these novels portray an attractive life in a Utopian society, but only if one can conform to the rules. Those who cannot are branded as subversives and punished as traitors. The portrayal of these societies makes us thankful to be free individuals who value the depths of human nature. ...read more.

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