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Compare the presentation of power and stability in '1984' and 'Brave New World'.

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Introduction

Compare the presentation of power and stability in '1984' and 'Brave New World' Power and stability are both very important themes in both George Orwell's '1984' and Aldous Huxley's 'Brave New World'. In both cases these themes are often presented as satirical commentaries of the societies in which the authors lived in. They are presented in both similar and very contrasting ways although often passing judgement on similar issues. There are often elements of both the novel's societies with similar functions to maintain stability, yet these are often maintained by very different methods. In both stories, the heads of society use their power to maintain a great deal of control over their constituents and ensure social stability. Not only actions are controlled but thoughts too. This produces two societies where individuality is rare, very difficult to establish and actually discouraged by the leading bodies. In 'Brave New World', the controlled seem to have very little awareness of the mental moulding they have undergone. Although Bernard sees through this, and John the Savage is similarly horrified by the society, the use of free indirect discourse that Huxley employs enables us to see through the eyes of Lenina Crowne, Fanny Crowne and Henry Foster, models of the average World State citizen. Through their constant quoting of hypnopaedia slogans and strict beliefs we can see how they have been developed to have uniform minds. The scene with Bernard and Lenina in a helicopter above the ocean displays this well. Here we see Bernard displaying attitudes that our society would consider normal but Lenina finds very worrying and scary. Bernard stops to hover and admire the view, telling Lenina it makes him feel more than "just a cell in the social body." A shocked Lenina replies with a hypnopaedic phrase: "Everyone works for everyone else. Even Epsilons are useful." Bernard actually finishes the sentence for her, highlighting his cynicism of the society and also how Lenina's opinion has been controlled so much that it is easily predictable down to how she voices it. ...read more.

Middle

Similarly, the vocabulary of the Oceanic citizen is restricted in order that the ability to form disagreeable opinions is abandoned. This is done through the introduction of Newspeak. The purpose of Newspeak is discussed in the appendix at the end of the book where we are told that once Newspeak has been accepted and 'Oldspeak', that is English, is forgotten; "a heretical thought... should be literally unthinkable." By introducing Newspeak as an apparently more efficient language, it becomes easily accepted. Simple alterations such as the use of 'plus' as a prefix rather than 'very' or any other such word give the illusion of merely simplifying the language while the word 'free' is removed of its grammatical sense when used in the sense of 'politically free' or 'intellectually free'. Once the language has reached its final version, any 'heretical thoughts', that is thoughts against the Party, do not exist and it is impossible for inappropriate opinions to be formed. Once again, as in 'Brave New World', the governing body has formed universal opinions for their society. This is another constituent of giving the government a totally stable position, as nobody will be able to disagree with them and will only be able to oppose anybody who does. Thus their minds are controlled and power is fully imposed. Both authors are wary of the uses of technological advances. There are many examples of them satirising science and innovation, especially how they can be put to different uses with darker motives than originally intended. Huxley seems to be opposing a principle epitomised in H.G. Wells' 'Men Like Gods', called eugenics, where technology is used to create a race of perfect humans. We are shown how that good intent is used almost as a cover for creating humans that know and accept their roles in society and will never rise above this. Essentially, such technology is used to enforce power and control over the constituents of the World State. ...read more.

Conclusion

The reason is that the Party wants everybody's energy put into society to ensure stability. Similarly, the contrasting sexual promiscuity in 'Brave New World' leads to little or no love and long term relationships, thus putting peoples' main attentions into supporting society and hence creating further stability. A feature of both novels that has attracted criticism, especially since the 80s, is that both societies are very paternal. The faces of Big Brother, O'Brien and Goldstein are those which represent power in Oceania, similarly to Ford and Mustapha Mond in the World State. The women we meet in both stories, although often important to the plot or for giving insight into the worlds, do not assume the leading roles. This is open to many interpretations. Many feminist critics have claimed that the books both endorse patriarchal society, however, as both books are intended to satirise the environments of the authors, the fact that the societies are patriarchal may be because such civilisations are being satirised. Another possible reading of this might be that either author did not see the equality of women as a problem, therefore not including it within satirical writing as to avoid confusion. However it is seen, such subordination of women to men can be seen to contradict the loss of gender identity that both authors employ. In fact, it can also be seen as to contradict the unseen equality that spreads throughout the hierarchical system of both worlds. Such a small detail, which both authors seem to have missed, may easily lead to a lack of stability in a society, and hence a loss of power. Therefore, we seem to have found a mis-presentation of power and stability that runs through both books. In conclusion, Orwell and Huxley create very contrasting societies; one being dark, depressed and tyrannical, while the other is oppressive yet seems to have a very pleasant environment. However, through many similar and different ways the governments of the worlds achieve very similar goals of controlling their constituents through their power, thus strengthening their power and maintaining long-term stability. ...read more.

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