Huxley’s Brave New World: A Perfectly Flawed Society
The beginning of the twentieth century was a time of great change in politics, technology, and ideas. The changes that took place provided many with a sense of uncertainty about where their society was headed. In the novel Brave New World, Aldous Huxley describes a futuristic utopia, the World State, which is portrayed as a truly wonderful, cooperative civilization. Yet through its motto, “Community, Identity, and Stability,” Huxley illustrates the problems with the utopia. Using hyperbole, irony, and tone, Huxley satirizes the problems of a society based on community, identity, and stability, in order to call attention to the horrifying consequences that his own society could face.
Huxley begins the novel by using hyperbole to criticize the flaws of a society based on community. He explains how the utopia operates under a strict caste system of five separate classes. The society functions because all five classes work for the common good of the World State. However, Huxley clearly fears that this rigid social system dehumanizes the people involved in it. This idea is conveyed in the Director’s statement that “you will see that no offense is so heinous as unorthodoxy of behavior. Murder kills only the individual—and after all, what is an individual?...Unorthodoxy strikes at Society itself” (150). The Director’s extreme language reveals that the entire culture believes that individuality is a negative trait; they believe that conformity is the real basis of community. Criticizing this extreme idea of community allows Huxley to point out the importance of individuality and its value within society.
The World State’s flawed concept of community leads to a flawed concept of identity. Huxley uses irony to criticize the World State’s concept of identity. The idea of identity as crucial to the World State is somewhat ironic—it seems out of character for a utopian society of class systems to believe so strongly in identity, which is connected to individuality. However, Huxley twists the idea of individuality through a Beta child’s statement that “I’m really awfully glad I’m a Beta, because I don’t work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid…I’m so glad I’m a Beta” (27). The irony here is that the child’s identity comes only from being part of a group. Huxley’s mocking tone in this passage shows that this is a dangerous type of conformity that his society must avoid in order to maintain true individuality.
In addition to community and identity, stability is another virtue of the World State. The World State has established stability by getting rid of anything unpredictable, such as emotions and family. Huxley criticizes this version of stability through his use of tone when Mustapha Mond explains to his students the horrors of family, saying “And home…was a rabbit hole,…reeking with emotion. What suffocating intimacies, what dangerous, insane, obscene relationships between members of the family group!” (37) Again, Huxley is mocking this society in order to send the message that family is precious, yet endangered because it is no longer kept sacred. His tone suggests that by giving in to the desire for stability, this society has lost everything meaningful in life.
Aldous Huxley successfully uses satire in his novel, Brave New World, to call attention to the problems with a society based on community, identity, and stability. Though his novel is set in the future, he is truly calling attention to the problems that face his own society. The problems he describes reflect some of the dramatic changes Huxley’s society was experiencing. Thus, his novel serves as a warning to his society and to generations to come, about the dangers of conformity and the risks involved in creating a “perfect” world.