By the word Satire, I understand that it is the use of mockery or exaggeration to expose faults in a subject. Huxley’s subject is unclear as he himself, in the introduction, was said to be unsure whether he was writing a satire, a prophecy or a blueprint and so the subject matter is open to interpretation. I believe that Huxley was trying to satirize the world around him and the way that it was heading. Due to this being my understanding of the subject, I believe that the satire is undermined by the fact that the novel is too topical.
A number of references, names, and allusions in Brave New World could be missed by the casual reader. Huxley draws upon his own extensive background in history, economics, and science and often assumes the reader is immediately aware of the significance of a particular word. For instance we don’t necessarily understand the significance of the name “Mustapha Mond” reading it in this modern age. People reading this novel when it was first published, however, would have seen that the mention of the surname “Mond” was a reference to the English industrialist and politician Sir Alfred Mond.
He played a leading part in the centralization of the English chemical industry in his lifetime and so for Huxley to use his name would have been noticed and acknowledged more than our acceptance of it as just a name. Also, our understanding of the significance of the people of Brave New World’s obsession with Henry Ford is not as thorough as those of the 1930’s due to the topicality of the novel. Henry Ford is glorified in the World State for his induction of the mass production method and “the introduction of Our Ford’s first T-model … chosen as the opening date of the new era”.
Ford is the basis of religion in the World State just as Christ is in many modern religions. The people of the novel’s minds can easily be manipulated by the state and its controllers into believing anything, but the prolonged brainwash of the citizens creates a suppression of creativity, which results in a direct loss of mental freedom. The stable world of a government controlled society appears to be a Utopia, where everyone is happy and lives in harmony, but the price paid is comparable to the superficial happiness that the citizens receive.
It seems that the general message that Huxley is trying to get across to us is that the price for Utopia, in a word, is freedom. “History is more or less bunk” said Henry Ford. This idea is taken to extreme measures in the novel’s World State and many totalitarian nations where censorship of art and religion completely conceals the past and eliminates the freedoms of thought and speech. People in Huxley’s dystopia live in the present with no knowledge of history, and those who explore certain new, prohibited ideas are censored because of it being against the system.
Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known”, said Oscar Wilde and it is this individualism that is not permitted due to the motto of “everyone works for everyone else”. Without the books to give the people ideas, and with the conditioning of the mind, no one attempts a revolution or an uprising. The idea of control through soma is a ‘softer’ way of control than that presented in George Orwell’s ‘1984’ where control is much more violent. This softer approach to control is a satire of the subtle ways in which Governments ‘control’ us, and so makes us wonder if the soft approach is effective or not.
Another way in which the satire of the novel is undermined through topicality, is by how sexual and racial ethics have changed a great deal from when the novel was written until present day. For example the growth of the black jazz culture was seen as ‘dangerous’ because of its immoral freedom and it new, individual ideas, however reading it now, some may think that Huxley is simply making a racist remark. Also Huxley’s utopian creation of men and women going to clubs just to end the evening sleeping with someone, was to Huxley an over exaggeration of what he thought could happen.
That is why he presented it to us to expose the fault that he saw in simply sleeping with anybody you feel like. He felt that it was immoral and that you should have genuine feelings rather than just lust. This however is what happens on an almost daily basis in modern society, and is not frowned upon, as Huxley was trying to do, but is instead merely accepted. Also the idea of marriage in Huxley’s day was strongly supported and to have a divorce was very rare and was generally not accepted. Marriage almost seems a thing of the past nowadays, and Huxley’s idea of men ‘having’ any woman they want, is now a reality.
This idea of monogamy in Huxley’s’ novel, has two sides to it. He shows how there is the criticism of promiscuity where the consumerist view of love and sex believes people to be “like meat”, and he also shows the jealous possessive side of monogamy, which is expressed by Linda’s incomprehension of the women’s meaning of “their men”. Both sides don’t treat people as what they are, but rather as objects, and I believe this is quite a good way of again emphasising the fact that these people, aren’t normal people, they are part of a system, and so are nothing more than robots.
People in the 1930’s who would have read this novel, would have obviously related it straight to America, and what was to them, modern mechanisation. They’d have worried about what was to come in the near future. This book was however re – released in the 1950’s where there was the worry of Stalin and his communism, taking everything away from richer people and giving it to poorer people, so that everyone would be equal. No barriers between classes, in fact no classes at all, everybody equal; part of a system.
This re – release may have been simply in an effort to gain more profits, however I believe Huxley saw it as an opportunity to satirize this new superpower as well as Americanisation. He I believe would have opposed both and been trying to become the voice of our nation, showing its disgust at the future of the world, were it not to change its ways. We read it today with concern also, but we read it with the concern at how close we are to Huxley’s “Brave New World” and how his fictitious story is pretty much a reality for us.
Technology has certainly advanced far beyond that of 1930 and we realise that the idea of people being part of a system could be considered to be a reality for us. Hundreds of men and women taking the same journey to work everyday, doing the same routine for years on end, could be seen as a system, and a flawed one at that and that is why Huxley satirized the American way of life as he knew that “the future of America is the future of the world” and we realise that he was completely correct, with many countries being overrun by America.
This doesn’t necessarily mean literally like in Iraq, but in the subtle sense of chain-stores such as McDonalds. Although I have mentioned that a lot of the novel’s satire is undermined by its topicality, I still believe that it is highly successful in exposing faults through mockery and/or exaggeration. Huxley’s clever juxtaposition of fact (scientific data) and fiction (future life on earth) is the basis for the satire, and is beautifully constructed. The novel is logically developed – Huxley “begins at the beginning” with a detailed account of life in the new World State.
Although it is hard, near impossible to pin down Huxley’s point of view, we realize that Huxley is not content to simply present a satire of a present future life and let the reader draw his own morals from the story. Instead Huxley allows his preaching to obtrude upon the fantasy he has created, and his characters soon become important only as spokesmen for particular ideas and beliefs. When he wrote Brave New World, Huxley showed the extent to which his disillusionment with society and its values had influenced him.
He “toyed” with the idea that “human beings are given free will in order to choose between insanity on the one hand and lunacy on the other. ” Also, many of the ideas presented during the discussion in the final chapter of the novel echo many of Huxley’s own views and concerns about the effect scientific advancement and technology would have on the individual. Political, economic, and philosophical changes taking place in Europe and America of the time he wrote this novel contributed to this disillusionment.
He saw little chance of mankind saving itself; he saw mankind moving toward self-destruction with no chance of stopping, and he saw himself as a voice crying in the wilderness – but crying to no avail. He saw the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, the dictatorship of Mussolini in Italy, and the Nazi Party movement in Germany. He had often been concerned about threats to man’s freedom and independence and he realized that communism and fascism place the state above the individual and demand total allegiance to a cause.
Recognizing this danger, he demonstrated the end result of this tendency in his fantasy in an attempt to show to people that to embrace these new styles of leadership would ultimately end in disaster. At the same time there were tremendous economic changes in and between individual countries – more and bigger factories, more manufactured goods and the advent of mass-produced automobiles i. e. Ford, who is exaggerated as being held up and worshipped as a God to the people of the novel. Ford’s T model replaces the crucifix as all the tops are taken off to produce the T.
Also big businesses of the time were abusing their control over the consumer, and this is exaggerated in Huxley’s novel by showing how the people of the world have been brought up to believe that “old clothes are beastly”, and the “untiring voice” that the world have been raised listening to, tells them that “ending is better than mending”. This phrase that they have been programmes to remember is an indication of industry’s control over them. Due to the programming, industries know that whatever they produce will be bought by the general public and what is produced is only produced if it can increase consumption.
Sport utilities for example are only created if as I said they can increase consumption, not so that people can enjoy playing sport. Individuality is something that Huxley strongly tries to emphasise as being important to us, by over exaggerating it to such an extent that it is stupidly funny. We always seek to be “one of the crowd”, to fit in, however the individual is not responsible for himself or for anybody else – having lost his individuality he has also lost his respect for individuality. Huxley carries this loss of individuality one step further in his projection of scores of identical twins performing identical tasks.
Huxley was concerned when he saw these things happening because he saw them as very real threats to man’s freedom and independence. His bitter satire, results from his conviction that, although man is able to do something about these threats to his freedom and individuality, he is unwilling to make the effort “to turn the tide. ” To sum up, I believe that within the last ten years we have seen tremendous advances in science and technology. In any single ten-year period since 1900 the advances in science and technology have overshadowed the advancement made during any previous hundred-year period.
Huxley realized that these advances, which were almost universally hailed as progress, were fraught with danger. Man had built higher than he could climb; man had unleashed power he was unable to control. Brave New World is Huxley’s warning; it is his attempt to make man realize that since knowledge is power, he who controls and uses knowledge wields the power. Science and technology should be the servants of man – man should not be adapted and enslaved to them. Brave New World is a description of our lives as they could be in the not too distant future, if the present obsessions persist for standardization.