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Nineteen Eighty-Four versus Brave New World

By Edited Sep 21, 2016 0 0

"Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them back together again in shapes of your own choosing," -Orwell page 220

            As we go about our daily lives, one might sometimes wonder: what is the epitome of society? Utopias have long been imagined in all sorts, but when viewed closely, they tend to have some fatal flaws. It isn’t much of a stretch to imagine the victory of these flaws over a well meaning society that pushes forward in an effort to make life better. In this case, the utopia would cease to be a land of freedom and progression, moving quickly down the path of oppression and moral corruption. This sad outcome is the case in two works by two very forward thinking authors. George Orwell’s novel 1984, and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World both in-depthtly discuses two sides of an imaginary disutopic future. Both strike up stirring arguments and ideas when read, and more so when compared to each other. However, the two books go about telling their stories in totally different ways. Huxleys future portrays a technologically advanced society in which scientific leaps have lead to a race of cookie cutter individuals engineered to love life, whose interests lay in the pursuit of trivial pleasures. The government keeps order through brainwashing and other physical alterations of the human structure. This idea of the future runs quite contrary to 1984’s bitter, dirty, and terrifying view of the path humanity will travel.

          Oceania exists as Orwell’s answer to Huxley’s World State. In this future, the elite keep order not through subtle and scientific methods, but through torture, oppression, and brute force. The streets are dirty and dangerous, creating an air of constant fear and unease. The belief that even the most moral and charismatic person can be broken down to an order following, mindless drone makes up the back bone of 1984’s message. Although these two books go about the same idea in very different ways, the authors would most likely agree on a few universal points about humanity as evidenced not only in their novels, but in the real world as well. Such ideas that both authors would find true would include the notion that stupidity and ignorance, regardless of the situation, generally bring happiness; A society must unite itself against some kind of opposing ideal or people in order to ensure social continuity, and that there is and has always been a powerful and malleable energy in humanity that can be channeled, but never totally eradicated.

          Stupidity, regardless of culture, has generally been looked on as a negative trait. When however dealing with turmoil and tribulation it is easy to overlook, especially since we are generally smart enough to do so, the effortless ease in which the absolutely idiotic deal with problems.  Basically all of our disappointments and troubles come from our desire to achieve, and belief that we are capable of ever greater things. Should one be born without the innate desire to further themselves, understand, or achieve anything, they could find life’s ups and downs much more easy to handle. This idea is taken to the extreme in disutopic cases, in which a stupid person may simply not realized they are being oppressed, or that they could possibly have any hope of ever changing the fact. Take Parsons for example, a character in 1984. He was a “man of paralyzing stupidity, a mass of imbecile enthusiasms” – Orwell 22 and is arguably the happiest character in the entire novel. John, the savage who looks on life in the World State as an outsider in Brave New World, is too intellectual and perceptive to fall into rhythm with society. He as well as Helmholtz, another thinker, never found true happiness in their dystopia.

          Another idea Huxley and Orwell would agree upon is the idea that social continuity relies upon the resistance of the society to another people, philosophy, or way of life. With nothing to unite against, a people have no unity. Thusly, when any nation is examined, one does not need to look far to find a common enemy. This is overtly demonstrated in 1984 with the three constantly warring yet identical super states that “never could be definitely conquered even by the other two in combination.” - Orwell154 The war helps to ensure the rule of the Party in more than one way, but most notably it gives the people an enemy. Eurasia or whoever is the bad guy at the time becomes a huge dumpster for all of society’s hate, anger, frustration, and discontent. This enemy sucks up every negative emotion and draws it outward rather than inward, turning it into a feeling of “at least we’re not them!”, and helping rather than hurting the Party. Summarily, in   Brave New World, the savage reservation provides the World State with a reason to feel good about their society as opposed to the “dirt, rubbish, dust, dogs, and flies.”- Huxley 109 of the reservation. It is a clear societal truth that without a them, there is no us, and that’s what holds us together.

          Finally, it would be clear to both authors that humanity in its very nature contains in each individual a collective energy that although malleable, eventually builds to the point where it necessitates release.  In 1984, society’s stresses were released in the “uncontrollable exclamations of rage”- 15 brought on by the “Two Minutes Hate” directed at Goldstein and whom ever else was opposed to Oceania at that time. Huxley even went on to explicitly state “Orgy-Porgy gives release.”- Huxley 84, when describing the outcome of a social event designed to blow off some steam. The release of frustrations in some sort of collective activity is a cornerstone of all cultures. Be it through sporting events, arts, or other means, relief through the outpouring of emotions is necessary for the masses to function. This idea, as well as the two states previously, would certainly find acceptance in the musings of both Orwell and Huxley.

          Although Orwell might view the World State as one of the “stupid hedonistic utopia’s that the old reformers imagined.”- Orwell 220, and Huxley might not have been particularly fond of 1984 had he truly been gifted with visions of the future; we see here that among the two there can be some amount of parallelism. Humanity has tendencies that run universally regardless of the situation, time, or place. Anyone open minded enough to take these novels seriously can reasonably consider these points as overarching truths. It speaks to the duality of mankind in that one vision of the future is built on peace through subversive and subliminal means while the next is founded on hate through overt force, but as with all things, the two can eventually be broken down to a common thread.

 

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