Both Brave New World and 1984 offer horrifying depictions of a proposed future filled with anonymous and dehumanized beings dominated by an all-encompassing government.
Both openings immediately present a world of control; of embryos and of thoughts. In Brave New World human life is controlled by manipulating embryos, the Bokanovsky Process and conditioning babies and children, putting them into a strict caste system and manipulating their thoughts. The utter control in this proposed future is shown throughout the opening. The reader is led around by the narrative, just as the students are led around by the Director. The language emphasises this, as we are led though the tour by use of ellipsis; ‘Meanwhile…’ The long sentences and detailed descriptions of the scientific processes make it impossible to stop and think about what we are being told, let alone to question what is happening.
This emphasises the mindset of the people that live in this Brave New World; brainwashed and unquestioning. Just as the students do not question or hesitate, Huxley does not give the reader a chance to either. This is reinforced by their repetition of certain phrases in italics, even some which are unimportant; ‘begin at the beginning.’ Similarly, in 1984, the control enforced on the population is startling. The description of the telescreen is particularly terrifying as all movement and sound is observed at all times; ‘any sound…would be picked up…there was no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment.’ This ongoing surveillance adds to the sense of confinement and control in the opening section of the novel.
Another similarity between the two novels is the vast sense of scale that the reader feels. Both ‘worlds’ exist on a huge scale. In Brave New World we are told that the building is ‘only thirty-four storeys’ and the everything is described as ‘enormous’, ‘long recession’, ‘three hundred Fertilizers.’ We are given the impression of how big this operation is, which in turn makes it even more horrifying. Huxley also tells us that this operation is not just in one place, as he mentions Singapore and ‘tropical Centres.’ Also, in 1984, there is a sense of huge scale. Orwell mentions the ‘provinces of Oceania’ which suggests that there are other such provinces and the scale of the buildings and the Ministries also give the impression of a vast area.
One difference between the two openings is that in 1984 we are introduce to the ‘hero’ of the novel, Winston Smith, straight away, whereas in Brave new World we aren’t introduced to any main characters. Winston Smith is almost portrayed as an anti-hero. He is not very impressive with his ‘sanguine’ and ‘roughened’ skin. In Brave New World we are only introduced to nameless, faceless people. The students do not question or wonder and the Fertilizers who work there carry on in mindless symphony. This creates a world of dehumanized beings, none with any kind or purpose or direction, all following the path that society has chosen. However, in 1984 Winston Smith appears to want to break out of his monotonous existence. Winston’s attempt at subterfuge seems both small and large at the same time. Although the action of writing in a diary seems to the reader to be an insignificant event, the magnitude of his decision is clearly conveyed in Orwell’s writing.