Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orewell’s 1984 were both composed surrounding times of war in the twentieth century. The authors were alarmed by what they saw in society and began to write novels depicting the severe outcomes and possiblities of civilizaton if it continued down its path. Although the two books are very different, they both address many of the same issues and principles.
In Brave New World Huxley creates a society which is carefully balanced, and the two factors that maintain the balance are reproduction and production. The reproduction aspect comes from the government’s control over the creation of people, and breeding them to fulfil particular purposes and jobs that keep production flowing. To keep this society in balance there has to be a need for production, and so the people are taught to replace an item that still is functional, but has a minor imperfection with a new one.
The society presented in 1984 is less comfortably balanced. The population is closely monitored and kept in check by the Thought Police, and anyone seen as a threat to the teachings of the Party and Big Brother are “taken care of.” This country also creates stability through perpetual war as a means of maintaining the status quo. This means that the constant fighting keeps the society balanced, and if the wars were to end, the support and obedience of the society would cease, and thus causing the fall of Oceania.
In 1984 Orewell does not emphasize technological advances since the only technology uses are by the Party and are used to maintain control of Oceania. Other than telescreens and the ever-present surveillance equipment, all real science has been abolished because the Party does not want anyone to be given a reason to oppose them. It believes that science in the hands of the public presents a threat.
Huxley imagines a more scientifically dependent society. People in this society are no longer born but decanted in Hatchery and Conditioning Centers. In these conditioning centers human cloning, rapid maturation, and prenatal conditioning take place. These are just a few examples of how the population is dehumanized and dominated by the World State through the use of technology. Huxley seems to have passed over the ideas of automation so that even the lowest in the caste system have a purpose, including toiling away in factories or working in elevators.
In both novels the authors abolish the past to serve the beliefs of their governments. In Brave New World this society embraces the misquoted line “History is bunk” and have no intrests in history at all. Anything from the past in this civilization holds no importance. In 1984 they still cast history aside but instead of getting rid of it completely like Brave New World, the government continues to revise it until there is little to no truth left in it at all. The Party revises everything to comply with the requirements of the future. Making the concept of historical truth irrelevant.
The family dynamic is abolished in both societies just as effectively as history was. Huxley successfully creates a society that no longer has a need of family. Children are brought up in government facilities where they are conditioned to act and behave to benefit society. In Orewell’s world, the family is subverted. Children are taught to be loyal and obedient to the Party, and are encouraged to spy on and betray their parents, making children just another way of gathering surveillance on the public. This horribly inappropriate behavior of the children in 1984 has an equal counterpart in Brave New World, where children are encourage to engage in ‘erotic play’. (Readers are just fortunate that Huxley did not go into the details).
In Brave New World, intercourse is completely separate from reproduction. The females in this society that are fertile are repeatedly conditioned to use contraceptives. Exclusive relationships are also abolished to render sex mindless and meaningless, and of no more significance than eating a chocolate bar. In Oceania sex is treated in an opposite manner. Sex is discouraged unless within the sanctions of marriage, and even then it is divorced from pleasure and is only a means to reproduce as a ‘duty to the party.’
Seeing as both the family and sexual relationships have been destroyed or distorted, it is not shocking that both worlds almost welcome death. In Brave New World, people barely exist in the first place: their lives are so banal and interchangeable it is not hard to imagine this type of society viewing death as meaningless. In 1984, people merely cease to exist. One day they are there and the next they are gone. People in this society accept that they will probably never see that person again, and move on.
There is an interesting difference in the way these two novels treat the ‘proles’. Both authors emphasize that the masses are easily contented. Huxley’s lower castes of Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons are content easily with work of the non-challenging nature, closely followed by drugs, sex, and relaxation. These castes are viewed as so obsolete and so unimportant that are simply bred in batches called Bokanovsky Groups, creating dozens of identical specimens at a time.
The ‘proles’ in 1984 resemble the lower castes in thier lack of ambition and contentment with what they are given. Although they are viewed as unimportant by the party, there is still some surveillance on them to find any proles that have the potential to actually think for themselves and those who can are “eliminated.”
Huxley’s dystopia is a terrible society to live in, but can be compared to heaven when next to Orewell’s. Althought there is the World State, there are pockets of escape, such as the reservation as well as the islands to which the independent thinking members of society are sent. Whereas in Orewell’s dystopia there is no asylum. Those who commit thought crimes are eventually killed. In this dystopia there isn’t a place in the world that isn’t run by the same basis as Oceania.
Both books also present the importance of language to human thought. In Brave New World, the language has been changed in many ways, such as making words like ‘Mother’, ‘Father’, and ‘Family’ obscene. Also the conditioning and mundane usage of slogans such as “ ending is better than mending” and “a gramme is better than a damn” is just an example of how the State uses these rhymes as subconscious mind control.
Orewell’s book takes the importance of a language theme much further, with the invention of ‘Newspeak’. This is the Party’s conscious and determined attempt to make it impossible for the masses to commit a thought crime, because they would no longer have the words to formulate one. Newspeak seeks to condense the human language to the functional minimum. In the tenth edition of Newspeak we are told that certain words have become obsolete, and that they become obsolete by the ceased usage of them. ￼There are many points of comparison between these two novels. They both address essentially the same issues–language, control, production, and sex, they just treat them in different ways.