City Tech, Fall 2016

Do Sacrifices Need to Be Made to Achieve “Happiness”?

Reading the last chapters of the book, I can only tell that Huxley arduously dedicated the last chapters of his literary work to discuss several social conflicts that were implied in previous chapters of the novel. One of the main conflicts is the concept of true happiness and how individuals attain this happiness. In this Brave New World, people have been adapted to reject and detest things like human emotions, new ideas, and knowledge about the world. The government have banned anything that allows an individual to learn, think and feel since they believe it might change the individual’s thinking and bring instability and unhappiness to the society. So in order to establish a happy and balance world, the people have to pay a high price in exchange of what they mostly mention it as “happiness”. Not only the society, but, the characters in general have also given up something at a particular point in their lives in order to attain this certain type of “happiness and stability. One of these clear examples is mainly shown in the conversation between Mustapha Mond and John which becomes the central point as it makes the entire novel more explicit to the readers. Through this conversation we are revealed how things such as art, science, religion and freedom had been sacrificed to achieve happiness where people can live in a more socially stable society.

The world society is a vivid example of people making sacrifices for the sake of their own happiness.  Throughout the chapters we discover that the society have to give up several things in order to promote a more stable and satisfied society. They have been brainwashed to the extent that they believe that, feeling emotions, establishing human connections, and having different views and ideas, are the most nefarious and terrible things in the world. This fact is revealed during Mustapha Mond and John’s conversation about Othello’s books. The Controller reveals to John that any form or art and science and any act of human relations have become useless and unnecessary to the society of this time since its people have been conditioned to reject any feelings, new ideas and understand things beyond their mediocre knowledge. He states that by doing this the world has reached an outstanding level of harmony: “The world’s stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get. They are well off; they’re safe; they’re never ill; they’re not afraid of death; they’re blissfully ignorant of passion and old age; they’re plagued with no mothers or fathers; they’ve got no wives, or children, or lovers to feel strongly about…”(pg. 198). They have eliminated any human emotion that causes people pain and unhappiness and replace it with superficial thoughts and desires. This would bring a stable society where everyone is satisfied and happy.

It is not only the society, but also some of the characters in Brave New World have sacrificed something in life in order to reach their happiness. One of these characters is the head of this dystopian society, Mustapha Mond. Mond is the creator of this materialistic, ignorant, and inhumane world who restricted the society from using any scientific knowledge and developing deeply feelings that make humans unhappy. He arguments that things should be sacrificed in order to develop a more stable and happy society. He also reveals that becoming a World Controller was a sacrifice that he had to make to achieve happiness. During his youth time, Mond was also man with a great passion towards science and art and with questions about life; “I was an inquisitive young scullion once” (pg. 203). However, the government did not agree with his ideas and questioning and saw Mustapha as a threat to society. They asked him if he would rather live to an island and be isolated from society or to possibly become a world controller. He gives up something that is more valuable and powerful and chooses to be a world controller; “I chose this and let the science go” (pg. 204). Mond justifies that his sacrifice was made to bring harmony and wellbeing to the society what he describes as “happiness”. He decides to pay the price by putting other people’s happiness before his own “That’s how I paid. By choosing to serve happiness. Other people’s–not mine” (pg. 205).

Then we also have our main character John, who decides to sacrifice his freedom to accomplish what I would call true happiness. Contrary to Mustapha Mond who sacrifices science in exchange of a wicked and false happiness, John’s happiness is based in truth and his desire to stand up with his human feelings without caring the consequences. This is revealed when the Controller tries to persuade John that things such as art, science and religion are a worthless thing that should never exist again because they only cause instability and suffering to the world. However John can only see that Mustapha wants to control people in a way that they are restrained to have their own ideas, acquire a more extensive knowledge and learn values such as love, family, religion which is the beauty of life. He feels repulsed and tired of living in a synthetic and fake society where people are customized to not feel any emotions, rely on drugs, and treat individuals of lower classes as tame animals. He rejects all these things that are comfortable for the society and accepts what, according to Mustapha, causes unhappiness to them.  As he manifests in the text, “But I don’t want comfort. I want God. I want poetry. I want real danger. I want freedom. I want goodness. I want sin.” (pg. 215), John chooses to live a more authentic life. Even tough Mond tells him that all his choices would lead to unhappiness, John accepts them but does not abandon his ideals. He chooses to be exile to an island but this sacrifices causes him joy and satisfaction.

1 Comment

  1. Jill Belli

    Excellent post exploring happiness in the text, Joselin! I’ve chosen this as a “featured post” … fantastic blog 🙂

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