Brave New World Vs. A Handmaid's Tale A Comparison Essay

1633 words - 7 pages

The saying "Ignorance is Bliss" comes from a passage in "On a Distant Prospect of Eton College" by the eighteenth-century English poet Thomas Gray: "Where ignorance is bliss, / 'Tis folly to be wise." The author is trying to tell people that sometimes knowledge isn't everything. In the 2 novels I have studied this semester, both civilizations are founded on this principle. Together they give us glimpse of two possible futures, one of a highly 'advanced' society where it's members have no recollection of the past and are told from a very early age that 'things are better now', yet have nothing to compare it to for themselves. The second of the two is in its early stages, almost experimental still, and is based more on a religion then science. It believes that by controlling the media and 'sheltering' its population from the rest of the world they will conform to this new way of thinking. Each society has taken a different route to achieve the same basic goal, a new order for the world."Brave New World" presents a startling view of the future which on the surface appears almost comical. Yet humour was not the intention of Aldous Huxley when he wrote the book in the early 1930's. Indeed Huxley's real message is very dark. His idea that in centuries to come, a one-world government will rise to power, stripping people's freedom, is not new. In fact, there are hosts of books dedicated to this topic. What makes Huxley's interpretation different is the fact that his fictional society not only lives under this totalitarian government, but embraces it like mindless robots.Soma, not nuclear bombs, is the weapon of choice for the World Controllers in "Brave New World". These men have realized that fear and intimidation has only limited power; after all, these tactics simply build up resentment in the minds of the oppressed. Subconscious persuasion and mind-altering drugs, on the other hand, appear to have no side effects. Add to this the method of genetic engineering, and soon almost all "pre-Ford" problems have been wiped out permanently.The caste system of this brave new world is equally ingenious. Free from the burdens and tensions of a capitalistic system which separates people into social classes by natural selection, this dictatorship government is only required to determine the correct number of Alphas, Betas, etc., all the way down the totem pole. There is no class warfare because greed, the basic ingredient of capitalism, has been eliminated. Even Deltas and Epsilons are content to do their manual labour. This contentment arises both from the genetic engineering and the extensive conditioning each individual goes through in childhood.Freedom (as well as art and religion which are results of freedom) in this society has been sacrificed for what Mustapha Mond calls happiness. Indeed almost all of Huxley's characters, save Bernard and the Savage, are content to take their soma ration, go to the feelies (the superficial substitute for actual life), and...

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