compare and contrast themes of brave new world and 1984

Two classic novels, 1984 written by George Orwell and Brave New World penned by Aldous Huxley both possess similar topics and themes. In both novels societies are striving for a utopia, or a perfect society. These novels also take place in societies with versions of totalitarian governments, which is a government that rules by coercion. Not only are the topics similar, but in both novels a rebellious character is the protagonist; Winston Smith from 1984 and John the Savage in Brave New World. Another parallel in the books are the tactics that the government uses to instill fear and power over the citizens.

A common theme expressed in Orwell’s novel 1984 and Huxley’s novel Brave New World is that government uses technology to control society by outlawing individuality, controlling knowledge, and abolishing any emotion. An occurrence in both Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World is outlawing individuality. In Orwell’s compelling novel 1984 a method of the government controlling its citizens by a means of technology is the way the government outlaws individuality. In 1984 a phrase always looms over the citizen’s heads “Big Brother Is Watching You” (Orwell 2).

This ever present phrase instills fear among the people which reinforces that in their society Oceania there is always someone watching which prevents individuality. A main instrument of technology that stops independence is Orwell’s creation known as the telescreen. The telescreen is a television that broadcasts updates on the war, news on the Party, and exercise. Reader’s witness the power of this item when the main character is slacking on his exercise and is called out across the telescreen station.

The controlling factor of disallowing individuality is that it prevents rebellion because without another’s consent you will not progress. A similar presence of the outlawing of individuality is common throughout Brave New World. A piece of technology in this novel that prevents this feeling of independence is how humans are reproduced. Instead of having parents in this society humans are made in test tubes by the Bokanovsky Process. The Bokanovsky Process is when zygotes are cloned into roughly 32 sets of identical twins. Being part of just a group of cells that were produced desensitizes those to individuality.

Although the leaders in the government of this society state that the Bokanovsky Process provides stability which leads to happiness; some characters such as John the Savage crave to escape technology and lack of independence. After his mother had passed away, John the Savage went and spoke to Mustapha Mond who explains: “But people never are alone now, we make them hate solitude; and we arrange their lives so that it’s almost impossible for them to have it” (Huxley 235). The commonality between Brave New World and 1984 is that the prevention of individuality allows the government to control its citizens.

In both 1984 and Brave New World a method to convey government control is displayed in the way both governments control knowledge. In 1984 many of the citizens of London are illiterate and are unable to write. This is because society practically forbids the expansion of knowledge. A Party doctrine in this society is “Ignorance is Strength” (Orwell 4); the slogan prevents a rebellion by conditioning the citizens of Oceania not to crave knowledge. With more knowledge a citizen might discover how the government treats the society and will attempt to challenge it.

When this was played over and over again in the background people would start believing it. The tactic of controlling knowledge through the use of technology prevents a rebellion in societies because if one does not know much they do not understand when something is corrupt in society. Huxley used a similar tactic in Brave New World by having government use technology to control their citizens. After the babies are produced through the Bokanovsky Process they would undergo conditioning based on their social class. In the beginning of the novel a tour is being given to students and they see how the second lowest class, Delta, is conditioned.

The conditioning Deltas is to hate books, the Director of Hatchery states: “They’ll grow up with what the psychologists used to call an “instinctive” hatred of books and flowers…” (Huxley 22). The method of their condition is when they would crawl towards the books; the technicians would send an electric charge through the floor so the babies associate knowledge with pain. Since the Delta’s possessed an instinct to hate books and flowers, the craving of knowing more practically dissolves. Without the want of new knowledge, many believe just because it is repeated time and time again, many would begin believing it.

Having citizens who do not crave the truth allows the government to carry on with its traditional rule without the worry of rebellion. Although outlawing individuality and controlling knowledge a prominent example of using technology to control society is by abolishing real emotion. The technology used in Orwell’s 1984 is Victory Gin. The protagonist, Winston, drinks Victory Gin when he feels paranoia. Paranoia is a common emotion in this society because the feeling of someone always watching you is present in everyday life.

Victory Gin is not the most refreshing beverage because of the sickly odor but when Winston guzzled it down his face turned red and: “… had the sensation of being hit on the back of the head with a club” (Orwell 5). Though the drink was revolting it gave him a false sense of positive emotion, and if the government can provide that it will prevent future rebellion. Preventing future rebellion allows this government to pursue its attempt at a perfect society. Along with Orwell including how government uses technology to control emotions Huxley displays this many times in his novel through the use of Soma.

Soma is the perfect drug in Brave New World when one feels pain you just take Soma and it vanishes and you go on a “holiday”. Many citizens of the society in Brave New World are dependent on Soma; a character by the name of Bernard Marx is not as dependent as most though, his resistance of Soma is revealed when Henry Foster walks up behind him and says: “Glum, Marx, glum. What you need is a gramme of Soma” (Huxley 54). Whenever a citizen sees another with sadness or pain they tell the person to take Soma so they can take a holiday.

The reason Soma is so effective, is because if the population is happy then nobody will try and challenge it adding an obstacle at their efforts to create a utopia. The parallels in both 1984 and Brave New World are very prominent. By abolishing emotions, outlawing individuality, and controlling knowledge; both Huxley and Orwell convey the theme of the government controlling by means of technology is common throughout both books.

Works Cited

Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2006. Orwell, George. 1984. New York: Signet Classics, 1977.

"Looking for a Similar Assignment? Order now and Get a Discount!