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Consumerism In 1984 And Brave New World

1648 words - 7 pages

The novels 1984 and Brave New World serve the purpose of both satirizing their respective time periods as well as warning us of the dangers of consumer behavior. Both George Orwell and Aldous Huxley depict unique societies in which everything has gone wrong. Oceania in 1984 and The World State in Brave New World both depict distinct worlds in which the citizens are oppressed by their respective governments. People are given limited freedom and limited choices, while the government spews out lies and fabricated stories to control their behavior.
The World State in Brave New World strived to create “Community, Identity, [and] Stability” (Huxley 1). Immediately, one can see that Huxley is comparing The World State to a utopia, in which everything is perfect. Brave New World pokes fun at the society that Huxley lived in, with its concept of Henry Ford being the center of everything. Years are counted by the number of years After Ford. People greet each other with a “T” sign, which refers to the Model T. “Cleanliness is next to fordliness” (Huxley 110), says Lenina, as she looks at the people in the Malpais Savage Reservation. This seems jocular to anyone reading in modern times, but the citizens of The World State are just as serious about it as contemporary people are toward religion, culture, and nationalism.
Consumerism plays a huge role in Brave New World because it not only makes the citizens happier, but it also makes them easier to control. People are conditioned into liking new things and disliking older things. "I do love having new clothes” (Huxley 48). That quote shows how people are constantly valuing newer items over older ones. Even if the item is capable of being fixed, people will prefer newer things to it. “The more stitches, the less riches” (Huxley 49).
The people are also issued a drug called ‘soma’, which everyone craves for. This drug is designed to make everyone feel happy. Without the soma, people are almost unable to function. These types of consumer goods are what make the reader question whether people are truly happy or whether they are prisoners of their government. “A gramme is always better than a damn” (Huxley 90). John the Savage, who doesn’t exhibit the consumer behavior of the World State citizens is the only one capable of feeling true emotions, as the others rely solely on a drug to keep themselves calm and happy.
Many traits that normal people, or savages, have are absent in the citizens of the hatchery. For example, Linda is unable to mend her son’s clothes back because she was never taught to do work like that. Those jobs don’t need to be done because everything is provided for the citizens. Consumerism, along with the development of technology, has resulted in the devolution of the population. On the surface, this appears to be the polar opposite of our society, where we take pride in working hard to achieve our goals, but the set up created...

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