Discuss Huxley's vision of a utilitarian society.
Huxley's utilitarian society seeks the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest amount of people. Happiness is stability and emotional equilibrium in people's lives rather than things that we might associate with happiness, such as achievement, advancement, love, and beauty. Instead, the greatest happiness comes through scientific and social conditioning that makes each person content with who they are and what they do.
Why does Mustapha Mond insist that science must be constrained in the same way that art and religion are?
Society must restrict science because too much scientific progress can result in social instability. Science, for instance, can reduce the amount of labor necessary to keep lower castes busy and upper castes satisfied with their work. Thus, society must suppress the advent of certain ideas. Huxley comments on the scientific progress of the twentieth century, which caused a great amount of advancement but which also led to mechanisms of war.
What traits of humanity does John Savage represent in the novel?
John Savage represents humanity's base desire for beauty. His love of Shakespeare - the ultimate achievement in art and beauty, according to Huxley - represents his desire for aesthetic transcendence in the human soul. John shows the reader how beauty can come from tragedy and how turmoil and unhappiness are necessary conditions for great art.
Discuss Huxley's use of character development in the novel.
Like many novels that depict dystopian futures, Huxley's novel relies less on character development than it does on the personification of social and political thought in the names, attitudes, traits, and flaws of each character. For instance, Bernard Marx personifies the unrest and hubris of socialist thought. The reader should not understand each character for their personality so much as for the thoughts and ideas that they represent.
Is Huxley’s society able to suppress religious impulses completely?
The government cannot completely suppress religious impulses in society, but they were able to control such impulses. When Bernard participates in the Solidarity Service, the participants feel a kind of Fordian Holy Ghost in a ritualized ceremony that engenders belonging and solidarity amongst the citizens. Both John Savage and Mustapha Mond agree that humans have an innate impulse towards belief in a god, but Mond sees that impulse as useless and something that society must control in order to ensure stability.
In what ways does Huxley moralize sexuality in the novel?
Huxley uses irony to make a statement about the social use of sexuality in modern society. Monogamous sex, which was a chief moral value of Victorian society and the generations that followed, was ironically a mechanism that released great moral depravity in humanity. Sexual plurality, which Huxley’s readers would have considered a moral vice, is a chief component of social stability. Huxley's views on the subject are therefore mixed. He believes that the structures of monogamous sex incite lust and passion in those that cannot restrain themselves, but he also recognizes that a society of complete sexual freedom deprives people of the base desires that, in a way, make a person human.
Do you believe that Huxley's blindness influenced the way he viewed society? Why or why not?
Huxley's blindness, a condition he suffered from beginning in his childhood, did influence his views on science and art. Huxley claimed that his love of both science and literature helped him to realize the limitations of both. His blindness kept him from devoting his training to a kind of science that valued only the achievement of progress, an idea that he rejects in his novel. Progress can be as harmful to society as it is helpful. Because of his blindness, Huxley entered a career in journalism and literature that taught him to appreciate his own affliction. His pain and turmoil opened his mind to the beauty in art and the suffering that must accompany great achievement.
Why does John Savage kill himself at the end of the novel?
John takes his own life at the end of the novel because he has become a sacrifice for the continuation of society. John feels trapped between two ideals. On the one hand, he seeks to represent the base nature of humanity, a state of unhappiness and fear that nevertheless produces beauty. On the other hand, he desires to become a part of the ritualized mob of humanity, which he cannot do on the reservation. However, when he becomes a part of the ritual with the mob in the final chapter, he realizes that being such a sacrifice robs him of all individualism. Caught between these two extremes, he feels that he will never belong anywhere.
Do you believe that Mustapha Mond is the antagonist of the novel? Why or why not?
Mustapha Mond is not an antagonist in the traditional literary sense. He displays both good and bad characteristics. In one sense, his knowing desire for control and power over humanity makes him a sinister character, but in another sense, his motivation is to create the most happiness possible for people. He recognizes that humanity, when left to its own devices, is depraved. Therefore, his motivation is to benefit the whole society, even if that motivation leads to a world deficient of emotion and beauty.
In your opinion, is this brave new world a utopia or a dystopia?
Huxley's imagined world contains elements of both a utopia and a dystopia. As a utopia, the world has achieved a peace and harmony that was very much on the minds of Huxley's readers at the close of World War I and during the beginnings of fascist states in Italy and Germany. As a dystopia, however, Huxley shows how such a stable world deprives humanity of the beauty and love that creates identity, as shown in the characters of John Savage and Helmholtz Watson. In the end, Huxley's world is an achievement that requires too great a sacrifice.