Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451
Both Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 portray hedonistic societies. The inhabitants of both societies seek to enjoy themselves for as much of the time as possible, however only citizens in Brave New World are truly happy. This leads to the conclusion that humans can never be truly happy, according to the authors, as their natural selves.
The people in Brave New World enjoy themselves with promiscuous sex, complicated sports, movies called feelies that engage all the senses, and excessive use of the mind-altering drug called soma. Their schedules are always full. A Controller relates the workings of society to some adolescent boys, telling them happily that “the old men work, the old men copulate, the old men have no time, no leisure from pleasure, not a moment to sit down and think—or if ever by some unlucky chance such a crevice of time should yawn in the solid substance of their distractions, there is always soma” (Huxley 67). When they are awake they are working or playing sports with coworkers, during the nights they attend the feelies and the parties and go home with someone to have sex with. The people are conditioned to never want to be alone, to always be engaged, never thinking further than what their job requires. For the people whose jobs require little or no thinking, special castes are created with alcohol added to the brains, destroying cognitive functions.
The hedonism portrayed in Fahrenheit 451 tends to be darker. People drive cars as fast as they can to get a sense of speed, regardless of who or what they may run into. The fun houses that people go to have “games” such as the window smasher, playing into the sense of power that people receive when they are able to cause wanton destruction to other people’s property. For a sense of accomplishment people memorize lyrics to meaningless pop songs. Thinking is discouraged by surrounding yourself with parlor walls that play so loudly as to interrupt any thoughts you might have, giving only appearance of thought by sending you a script to read when it’s your turn to speak, providing a pre-written thought during the only breaks from the noise. Captain Beatty describes the history leading up to the Fahrenheit 451 to Montag, relating the effect of editing on man, “Whirl man’s mind around so fast under the pumping hands of publishers, exploiters, broadcasters that the centrifuge flings off all unnecessary, time-wasting thought!” (Bradbury 55). Books that contain any information that people may find disagreeable have been banned, as have all publications that might include something that someone could read and have more knowledge than those who don’t read it. Beatty explained the purpose of book burning to Montag, “Colored people don’t like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don’t feel good about Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Burn it. Someone’s written a book on tobacco and cancer of...