These three words hang in a sign over the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, which creates and conditions new human life. These words comprise the slogan for society. "Community" means that all persons must work together to maximize the greatest happiness for society as a whole, and it occurs through the artificially implanted ideas of "Identity" that each person has. Some are alphas, betas, gammas, etc., but each person is supposed to be happy with their own identity. Finally, "Stability" is the ultimate goal of society because only through stability can happiness be maintained and all unpleasant feelings and emotions be eradicated.
"...you all remember, I suppose, that beautiful and inspired saying of Our Ford's: History is bunk."
This saying, quoted by Mustapha Mond, instructs his citizens to disregard the painful lessons of history and to ignore the past in order to focus on future progress. Society disregards history because if people understood what came before, they might not less willing to put their trust in science and progress. History is "bunk," as Mond says, because it revolves around human frailties and emotions such as love, anger, vengeance, and temptation. Such things are no longer part of the human experience and, according to Mond, have no place in a society built around maximizing happiness.
"A gramme is better than a damn."
This phrase signifies the maximization of happiness and good feelings in Huxley's utilitarian society. The greatest good for the greatest number of people, according to Huxley, is to minimize any negative emotions or feelings. To do this, individuals receive a gramme of soma, a narcotic that puts them into a state of unfeeling unconsciousness. Anytime individuals feel unhappy, they remember this phrase.
"The more stitches the less riches..."
Every person repeatedly hears this hypnopaedic phrase from an early age. The phrase is embedded so deeply into the consciousness of each person that they take its meaning to be truth. In this case, the phrase sparks consumer behavior, since the more a person repairs their consumer goods, the less they will buy, resulting in less money in the economic system of society. Creating consumption is one of the chief tasks of government because consumption keeps lower castes employed with no time on their hands for disruptive behavior.
"What man has joined, nature is powerless to put asunder."
This phrase, spoken by the Director, plays on the common phrase during a marriage ceremony - "What God has joined, let no man put asunder." In the marriage ceremony, the phrase evokes God's foreknowledge of bringing two persons together in love. In this quote, the Director claims the supremacy of science and progress. Man, not a god or nature, has put together the human body and mind, essentially conquering nature.
"Everyone works for every one else. We can't do without any one. Even Epsilons..."
This quote from Lenina demonstrates the high priority put on community and identity in the society. Social castes move from the Alphas, the most talented and beautiful people in society, to the Epsilons and Gammas, the world's menial laborers. However, each person’s conditioning causes him to feel as though they are all part of an idea economic and social system. Later in the novel, John Savage tries to point out that such a system really only benefits those who rule it, not those that are a part of it.
"So they're having children all the time - like dogs. It's too revolting...And yet John was a great comfort to me."
Linda says this line when Bernard and Lenina visit her on the reservation. Linda, a former inhabitant of the civilized world, tries to explain the incomprehensible behavior of the savages, but this quote illustrates the power of the bonds of parenthood. Huxley often uses surprising emotions in particular characters to demonstrate that there are certain aspects of being human that government and society cannot suppress.
"Why was that old fellow [Shakespeare] such a marvelous propaganda technician? Because he had so many insane, excruciating things to get excited about. You've got to be hurt and upset; otherwise you can't think of the really good, penetrating X-rayish phrases..."
In this passage, Helmholtz Watson responds after John Savage reads to him from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Watson realizes that Shakespeare represents a certain kind of mastery over language and emotion - the same kind of work that he himself does, but Shakespeare is infinitely better at such things because he deals with real human emotion, something that the inhabitants now regard as foreign.
"You've got to choose between happiness and what people used to call high art. We've sacrificed the high art."
In this line, Mustapha Mond responds to John Savage's protests that Shakespeare's literature is better than anything that results from society’s emotional engineering. Mond's agrees that Savage has a point, but he claims that in this society, happiness is the greatest good, and great literature can only come from turmoil and unhappiness. In order to achieve the greatest amount of happiness possible, civilized society has sacrificed art.
"It isn't only art that's incompatible with happiness; it's also science. Science is dangerous; we have to keep it most carefully chained and muzzled."
Mustapha Mond posits that science cannot be the only factor in progress. Throughout the novel, the inhabitants of civilized society learn to regard scientific progress as the greatest good, but science often illuminates facts that do not profit an individual's happiness. Progress often makes life more difficult for some and easier for others. Science can thus be a destabilizing force in society.
Brave New World Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Brave New World is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Mescal is a type of plant used to make alcoholic beverages. When Linda first arrived at the reservation, mescal became her drug of choice, as soma was no longer available to her. She describes the effects of the mescal as making her sick, and...