Retaining Essentialism In A World Of Cogs: The Individualism Versus Societal Conformity

2179 words - 9 pages

Throughout Aldous Huxley’s novel, Brave New World, the contrast of individualism to the blind conformity of society is shown repeatedly. The constant battle between the day-to-day life of conforming citizens in The World State and the main character Bernard Marx’s realization of isolation demonstrates the separation an individual feels from the rest of society. The sense of consciousness or individualism that Bernard Marx begins to feel is openly condemned by The World State, along with the mindless citizens. This sense of independence can be seen as a positive trait to an individual, but it can also be harmful to the individual’s reputation and standing in society. It has been evident, that through our history there have been many societies that parallel the attitudes of The World State, including the regimes of Stalin and Hitler. Bernard’s consciousness can directly parallel the resistance that some displayed under those regimes, in principle forcing the demise of said societies. This alone is the fear of The World State, the fear of revolt or resistance. By effectively brainwashing and conditioning, they try to suppress the ability of its citizen to cause civil unrest. Although as documented in history, there will always be those that can slip through the cracks, leading to the demise of a system.
Following the social construct in Brave New World, the American society in the twenty-first century follows a pattern of conformity over essentialism. Interestingly enough, modern society has turned the notion of individualism into a subsection of conformity. While blind conformity still rings true like in the World State, a movement promoting individuality has been popularized. Society has become a place where mass conformity exists, but it has become popular to stray from the norms of society as well. It is almost as if individuality is being marketed alongside traditional conformity. This has resulted in the deterioration of true individuality, as the idea of individualism has become diluted by the natural “sheep-like” mentality of humans. While modern society doesn’t reject the notion of individualism, as seen in Brave New World, the idea of being a part of (conforming to) society becomes something nearly every citizen longs for.
In The World State, citizens are created and molded by the government. They are tempered to their caste level and sent out to live life to the ideals of The World State. The citizens are not raised by parents, and do not have any true form of family; rather they are conditioned and taught with “suggestions…suggestions from the state” (Huxley 36). Since decanting, citizens are taught to fear anything that differs from the state’s standards and ideal. This acclimatizing is done through conditioning prepared everyday at a very young age and is modified to hinder certain castes. Along with the daily conditioning, the new citizens are also taught to give the utmost loyalty to the state and society as a whole. The state...

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