I think the biggest reason that I read this was because I wanted to read a classic sci-fi. I feel like I haven’t really read many of them before. I have definitely heard of Brave New World before so I decided to give it a shot. At first, when I was reading it I was a bit shocked about how openly it seemed to talk about sexuality and recreational use of drugs for it being written in the 1930s. Then I thought of something. The Great Gatsby which I read last year for AR had a similar dark spin on how the pleasures of the flesh and class/caste system can affect people. It seemed to me that after reading these two books (and I am sure there are other examples) this time in literature may have been when people were more inclined to discuss these topics in their works. I guess I would have to do more reading about that but there were some thematic similarities between the two. They obviously both come to very different conclusions and are set in completely different times. At the same time, they are similar conclusions. In The Great Gatsby, Gatsby works to become part of the upper class (from his place at the bottom) and fit in so he can have Daisy. Bernard, in this story, wishes to experience something outside of what the “World State” gives to him because he feels out of place in his own class. In both cases, the protagonist chooses to rebel against what was set out for them due to life circumstances and society leads to their destruction.
The book itself when I first started reading it was definitely not what I was expecting. A lot of what was done at an early age to children was very unsettling to me. They were pretty much brainwashed their whole growing up so that they would all live with the same mindset and be what the “World State” wanted them to be. All humans were set to be self-indulging. They would never feel things on a deeper level and only live to satisfy their immediate urges. It made me wonder if they yearned to feel something more. Deep feelings of love and passion are essentially what makes us all human. One might feel something was missing in their lifestyle if it wasn’t for Soma. Soma had a lot of resemblance to recreational drugs that are used nowadays. Could we eventually become much more reliant on these than we are now to stump our emotions? Technology may even improve these drugs so that they have the effects that we want without the consequences. It is scary how close some of the aspects of our society are to those of the “World State”.
The “sexual play” and “death conditioning” that children participated in at a young age was something I was definitely not expecting when I chose to read this book. It was honestly very gross that children were taught from such a young age to except ideals that are against how one would naturally react to situations. Death was taken very lightly and so was sexuality. This removed any deep feelings towards these topics which felt so wrong to me. As Mond, the “Resident World Controller of Western Europe” explained, at the end though, the removal of human connection to these things created stability. I argue, though, that having so much sex and never falling in love with that one person for you makes sex meaningless. It would eventually numb you from the true feelings of sexual connection. Also if people don’t feel suffering and pain then how can they appreciate happiness and enjoy the good moments of life. That is the flaw in the whole system. There is absolutely no fulfillment in life without those things. That is why Bernard was struggling so much because he yearned for more. And I think deep down others in the “World State” also did. Some human inclinations you just can’t brainwash away.
Another extremely unsettling thing to me was how embryos were altered before even being born they were predestined to what life they would lead. This seemed like it stole something from those of lower classes. As biology gets more and more advanced in our own world I think this same idea could take on in a different form. Ever heard of designer babies? This the genetic altering of embryos to make them superior to other children and have specific attributes of the parents choosing. Though this concept has been inspired by the book Brave New World, we are starting to see that this could have the potential to become a reality. When this is possible it will probably be extremely expensive and something only the very rich could afford. I think if this tech would become available it would separate classes that are already pre-existing rather than an organized caste system by the government. This would definitely pose a problem for those in lower classes because they would never be able to catch up to those in upper classes thus making them stuck where they are. Then we would resemble the caste systems in Brave New World that also have no mobility from caste to caste.
Brave New World is a book I would recommend to others with a warning. There is a reason it is such a classic because of how much thought and purpose the Huxley put into the story. It follows a high level of thinking especially when at the end John discusses with Mond the very ideals of humanity and why it was necessary to take those away from people in order to create a society without any problems. If you like thinking about where our society may eventually lead itself in the distant future and whether our human nature would have to be sacrificed in order to have a perfect world then this is a good book for you.