Comparisons and Contrasts of 1984 & Brave New World.

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Stephen B. Mangan                                                                November 14, 2004

Comparisons and Contrasts of 1984 & Brave New World

        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) exhaustively 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 after 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 goods 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 protagonists 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 reservation, 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 discouraged 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.

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        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 ...

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