Complexity in the World State

Chapters 10-13 of Brave New World delve deeper into the complexity of how the World State manipulates its people psychologically and the ways in which those who see past it try to live their lives. Author shows the reader the struggles faced by those who try to resist and the ways that they communicate and form bonds with each other. I think Huxley is illustrating what humans will do in desperation when they feel isolated but have some hope.

The system of manipulation becomes clear when Bernard and the Director have a confrontation in which the Director deliberately denounces him in front of everyone: “ he has proved himself an enemy of Society, a subverter, ladies and gentlemen, of all Order and Stability, a conspirator against Civilization itself”(Huxley, 138).  Bernard, in turn, attempts to do the same to him and somewhat succeeds. Huxley is showing the reader the brilliance of the social control that is the World State. Here is a system where people become experts at self-policing because the fear of public shaming and being outcast from society is unbearable. If people are terrified of being outcast and humiliated, this drastically minimizes the amount of actual force needed to control a society. Here, I think Huxley wants us to think about the ways in which we unconsciously keep ourselves in check to benefit the powerful.

I think chapter eleven shows both compassion and cruelty of this society. When it becomes clear that Linda will die soon if she continues on the soma, society does not try to stop her but assumes that she is a worn out piece of machinery that has had its time and now must die. ” The return to civilization was for her the return to soma, was possibility of lying in bed and taking holiday after holiday, without even having to come back to headache or a fit of vomiting, without even being made to feel as you always felt after peyotl, as thought you’d done something so shamefully anti-social that you could never hold up your head again (Huxley, 142). Linda represents the escape that everyone secretly wants from this society.  In soma, she has escaped and is living out her last days in bliss. The above passage about Linda particularly struck me as ahead of its time. I feel as though the modern widespread use of anti-depressants and prescription painkillers could be understood as an escape from the misery of our highly predictable, controlled world where we can often feel like slaves that have no access to the real truth about life.

Throughout these chapters, Shakespeare references are found everywhere and they are used in a way to show who is really socially conditioned and who is not. Shakespeare verses seem to be recited often in these chapters as a way for John and Lenina to reinforce what they believe “for all the time he was seeing himself as Romeo and Lenina as Juliet (Huxley, 167)”.   Shakespeare is used to show the reader that although Helmholtz may not be completely consumed, he still can’t really think outside of his conditioning and will never really “get it” the way John does. “Why was that old fellow such a marvelous propaganda technician?”(Huxley, 169).  Author may be suggesting here that the artists or at least those who appreciate the arts will always be the ones who see through hierarchies and control.  In summation, chapters 10-13 reveal the design of the World State as a system in which the fear of shaming does most of the work for those in control.

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