The novel, Brave New World, written by author Aldous Huxley in 1932, focuses around themes such as conformity and individuality. In Huxley’s World State, the World Controllers use a drug; soma, which provides comfort, safety, and stability to the people by protecting them from the harmful realities of the world. The citizens are conformed to be content with fake and superficial forms of entertainment. Emotional and scientific truths are ultimately given up for a fake contentedness in order to keep society running smoothly. The World Controller Mustapha Mond’s idea of contentedness is one made of pleasures and falsehoods, yet happiness for a majority of humans is the knowledge of the facts as well as their individual loves and needs. Things that are all absent in this genetically modified society. Brave New World is a dystopia focused on the theme that soma symbolizes false happiness; which is essential to controlling the citizens of the dystopia. Huxley uses the motif of soma to highlight that conformity is not true happiness.
Humanity is built upon by the foundations of individuality, a person’s individual thoughts and feelings towards something that may or may not be true. Moreover, this individuality of being different from each other does not conform with the World State’s vision of community and stability. In this society, the citizens are living within someone else’s ideas of what is best for them as an individual and they are actually “incapable of the thought or feeling required to question the models provided for them” (57). A combination of their conditioning and soma makes it so they are unable to truly determine what is falsehood. Lenina shows this by saying “a gramme in time saves nine,” (89) referencing to the fact that people in the Brave New World do not wait anytime to take soma, instead resort to taking it as soon as they feel stressed. This helped Lenina to cope with Bernard’s vent about his own freedom by saying he wished he was “…not enslaved by my conditioning.” Bernard is a great example of people’s whose Alpha minds lets them decide their own individual thoughts, however, society believes it unsafe, for fear of exile.
A character directly opposite of Lenina is John the savage, a son born and raised outside of the Brave New World. His mother, Linda, grew up in the Brave New World, accustomed to soma, the fear of nature, etc. When John reluctantly is taken back to the Brave New World, he gives perspective to the reader that there is an absolute disconnect between how he was raised to now, his new reality. In a frenzy, John states “”Free, free!” the Savage shouted, and with one hand continued to throw the soma into the area while, with the other, he punched the indistinguishable faces of his assailants. “Free!”” (241). John was so distraught about by peoples use of soma, that he went as far as to throw all of the soma he could get his hands on out of a window in a violent rage. He was the only one that understood the full extent of the improvements of one’s mind that is soma.
Happiness can simply not exist without truth. People in the Brave New World however content they may seem, are truly unhappy. Soma simply covers up their underlying emotions. Almost like putting a cover over a dead body – while we may not be able to see it, we know what is underneath. How could they even truly understand, or know what happiness is if they have never felt true happiness without the assistance of soma?
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