Consumption-Driven Future in “Brave New World” by Huxley


“Brave New World” is a dystopian (or utopian, depending on the reader’s view) science fiction novel that was written by Aldous Huxley and published in 1932 (Atwood par. 2). In this novel, Huxley displays a future based on consumerism, free sex, and drug addiction, which has an unyielding resemblance to the modern world. Although the picture of such a world may appear too unrealistic to some, Huxley successfully uses the three modes of persuasion (ethos, logos, pathos) to convince the reader that our world has the potential to become “Brave New World” one day.

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Ideas about the world of the future

In this paragraph, Huxley’s use of ethos will be discussed. Huxley uses ethos to support his ideas about the world of the future: there are allusions on “Utopia”, the socio-political satire written by Thomas More. In this book, the author argues that society needs changes, has to be led by the chosen intellectuals, and should be allowed to use slaves (Atwood par. 8). At the same time, Huxley also addresses the ideas of Plato, such as a unified state or eugenics for “the greater good” (Franck 75).

The unified state is displayed in the book as the idea of the World State and Community: “When the individual feels, the community reels”, meaning that everybody is connected, and the possible disabilities of one can lead to negative influences on others (Huxley, Brave New World 63). Plato addresses the reader in the “Republic” by asking if there is any greater evil than splitting a city (i.e. a state) into many other cities. (Franck 75). The World State, displayed in Huxley’s book, is incredibly similar to the idea expressed by Plato. However, Huxley has never acknowledged whether his writings were affected by Plato’s ideas (although it might seem evident) (Franck 76).

Huxley uses yet another supporting argument from a famous and well-respected writer, H. G. Wells, who also describes upper classes enjoying their lives and dirty lower classes living under the ground and performing most of the hard work (Atwood par. 8). Although the idea of eugenics was fully implemented at the national level by another state that emerged after the book was written, the description of these practices referred the reader to Plato who suggested selective mating.

However, in Huxley’s world, nobody mates or breeds; instead, human beings are manufactured in factories and, depending on their “class”, are raised in different environments and with different approaches towards their health and psychology. For example, the lowest class “Epsilons” experiences a lack of oxygen when it is manufactured, which leads to cognitive impairments. Epsilons do not understand the unfairness: “They don’t know what it’s like being anything else” (Huxley, Brave New World 50). As can be seen, Huxley uses various respected sources to convince the reader that such a world is not only possible but extremely likely to emerge one day. Thus, he addresses the mentioned writings specifically to make his claims more believable.

The tone and language of a novel are also an important aspect when analyzing a work of fiction (or non-fiction). Therefore, one should pay attention to Huxley’s use of tone and language. The events in the book are described in the past tense, which is standard for fiction and most types of literature, but it also gives the reader the impression that the story is real and happens in real life.

Another way of persuading the reader is the language; Huxley creates new words and concepts such as Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon – classes, soma, Arch-Community-Songster of Canterbury, Bokanovsky’s Process, Malthusian drill, zippicamiknicks, caffeine solution, etc. (Huxley, Brave New World 37, 97, 110). All of these words mostly refer to the concepts we are familiar with; for example, caffeine solution refers to tea of coffee: “run along now and have your cup of caffeine solution, dear” (Huxley, Brave New World 138).

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Soma, although not a word invented by Huxley, is used here to describe a powerful drug that does not have any side effects and maintains people’s feeling of infinite bliss. The primary purpose of this new vocabulary is to show the reader the new world in all the details possible; a new language is more persuasive since the old world does not exist anymore, and the old words cannot describe the new one. Even the years are measured differently.

The characters use the phrase “A.F.” to indicate the years “after Ford”, the beloved and admired Henry Ford who is presented in this book as a substitute for God: “straight from the mouth of Ford himself” (Huxley, Brave New World 25). Huxley’s decision to transform the language was a clever one since the world he displayed would not be as believable as it is. Language is an important part of everyday life because it often determines our view and perception of the world. To show the reader the characters’ understanding of the world, he created a new language, which specifically focuses on the unique aspects of the World State.

The second mode, logos, is also used by Huxley in the narration. Logos is used by Huxley to persuade readers that the Brave New World will be built one day. For example, he refers to real facts such as the ability of drugs to create a feeling of happiness and euphoria, the overpopulation of the world, and the emergence of community-based states and regimes (such as Communism, for example).

It is known that Huxley experimented with drugs himself and described these experiences in the book “The Doors of Perception”; therefore, one can assume he had a good understanding of drug’s ability to influence one’s body, mind, and logical reasoning. However, although he did believe that drugs could be used to wake creativity, he also stated that he did not “think it’s by any means certain that you would get the result you wanted — you might get almost any result” (Horowitz and Palmer 50).

Therefore, the drugs can be used differently, Huxley claims. He shows the reader how the drugs can be used to suppress the ability to create in a human and make him/her a creature filled with bliss that is not able to develop or maintain individuality: “Lenina and Henry were yet dancing in another world-the warm, the richly colored, the infinitely friendly world of soma-holiday” (Huxley, Brave New World 52).

The logical reasoning behind Huxley’s statements here is that the new world needs a particular tool to control the population, and enjoyment and happiness work more efficiently than punishment does. Behavioral studies have supported this claim; therefore, Huxley’s vision of the future is not based on his imagination but rather on the specifics of human nature. The tools of control are depicted in different ways in dystopian novels.

However, Huxley’s decision to focus on drugs shows that he was concerned about their possible misuse, both by individuals and the authorities. Thus, in this novel, drugs’ main aim is to control the population’s desires, wishes, thoughts, and ideas by providing users with feelings of bliss and happiness.

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Another problem that Huxley addresses is overpopulation. As the author himself states in one of his essays, “In 1931 when I was writing Brave New World, it stood at just under two billion. Today, only twenty-seven years later, there are two billion eight hundred million of us. And tomorrow — what?” (Huxley, Brave New World Revisited par. 10). The issue of overpopulation concerns Huxley deeply, and he shows the reader how this problem might be resolved in the future, i.e. by controlling the world population, prohibiting unprotected sex, and carefully manufacturing the future citizens: “our business is to stabilize the population at this moment” (Huxley, Brave New World 8).

Huxley’s logic is indisputable here, and it is difficult to argue with his statements: the problem of overpopulation is one of the main concerns of the world right now since the planet’s resources might be entirely exhausted one day. This day will lead to humanity’s decline and possible elimination. As Huxley himself explains it, the new age will not be the Space Age but rather the Age of Overpopulation (Brave New World Revisited par. 13).

The novel is used by the author to describe a possible (and frightening) solution to the problem that is not displayed as the most efficient one but certainly has to be considered since the humanity cannot address the problem any other way. It does not mean that Huxley sees this solution as the right one; instead, he describes what outcomes we, as a species, might face one day due to our inability to work on the problem efficiently.

The third mode, pathos, is used by Huxley to describe humanity’s future attitude towards such emotions as love, hate, happiness, desperation, and others. Huxley’s use of pathos or emotional appeal is especially shining. The described events are perceived by the reader with surprise, confusion, and, possibly, disgust, but Huxley continues to show the world as a perfectly reasonable (for its inhabitants) safe harbor where everybody is satisfied with their life.

Huxley directly addresses the problem of human emotions, the ability to love, create, suffer, and forget. For example, one of the novel’s protagonists, Bernard Marx, acknowledges when talking to Lenina: “I often think one may have missed something in not having had a mother” (Huxley, Brave New World 76). As opposed to the world we live in, living without a mother (or father or any other custodian) is seen by the characters as a normal state of being, where such feelings as motherly affection and the joy of having a parent/child are seen as redundant and unnecessary. However, as Huxley shows it in Bernard’s phrase, the characters think about such emotions very rarely (if at all).

The citizens of the World State do not perceive emotions as human and essential. Instead, they seem to find them disgraceful and harmful: “My love, my baby. No wonder these poor pre-moderns were mad and wicked and miserable” (Huxley, Brave New World 30). This portrayal of the citizens’ attitude towards emotions is Huxley’s incredibly powerful emotional appeal to the reader. He makes us see what we can once become, reject everything human, and choose happiness overthinking, suffering, creating, and reflecting. At the same time, even happiness in this world is not real, since it is simply created (manufactured) by the drugs the citizens take.

The perception of happiness in our world is different: most of the individuals would link happiness to specific events, people, places, animals, objects, and memories, while Huxley’s citizens create happiness by wiping out any memories (positive or negative) and creating a limbo of euphoria that is only related to the drug and nothing else. Human attachment to other people (parents, friends, lovers, children) is substituted here by the attachment to drugs.

Thus, although Huxley himself supports the use of drugs to become more creative, he clearly does not describe it as a panacea for all sufferings and horrors of our world. The drugs (and happiness related to it) become a power, a tool of control, just as fear and punishment are used for the same aim in “1984” (Franck par. 1). Huxley successfully transmits the idea that controlling human beings with joy and satisfaction is easier than with fear and anger since people will prefer to continue their hedonistic life but are more likely to strike against hatred and violence.

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The human ability to create is also directly addressed by the author. Huxley’s emotional appeal concerns the creativity and the process of creating. When reading the book, it is impossible not to pay attention to the number of times the phrase “synthetic music” is used. Dancing and singing are not prohibited by the State, but nobody creates music anymore: it is synthetic, just as everything else is, including emotions. Some people believe that the ability to create and be creative is what makes us human, a capability that is not observed in the majority of animals.

However, Huxley’s characters, raised in an artificial world, are not capable of creating, they are only able to consume. Thus, Huxley uses emotional appeal to prove that emotions and the ability to think creatively can be destroyed in the future, which will transform human beings into numb creatures that only value consumerism and instant happiness.

Works Cited

Atwood, Margaret. “Everybody Is Happy Now.The Guardian. 2007. Web.

Franck, Matthew J. “Brave “New World”, Plato’s” Republic”, and Our Scientific Regime.” The New Atlantis, vol. 6, no. 40, 2013, pp. 73-88.

Horowitz, Michael, and Cynthia Palmer. Moksha: Aldous Huxley’s Classic Writings on Psychedelics and the Visionary Experience. Inner Traditions/Bear & Co, 1999.

Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. Harper Perennial, 2006.

—–. “Brave New World Revisited.huxley. n.d. Web.

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