In the novel, Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, Huxley presents a future where total conformity is an aspect of society. Each and every citizen of this World State is conditioned a lifestyle that is determined at birth in order to have a “perfect” civilization. Each person is conditioned to fill a certain roll and to not question why they are doing it, just simply do it.
However, just like every other perfect society that is made, there are certain individuals that are not conformed with being like everybody else, who are unique, original. And, within each of these characters, their difference in personality does not fit the normality of this society, which is why they use soma in order to fit in, to feel conformity within themselves. Huxley uses characters such as Bernard, Linda, and Lenina to show that no civilization is perfect and that there will always be a likelihood of people rebelling from such a society.
Each and every human being created in this society was created in a factory. Not by two actual human beings, making it so much easier to make each person feel conformed to what they have become. Since they were all made the same way and raised the same way, nobody would be able to question the fact as to why everybody was so similar. Each child was conditioned the same way. The director states, “Offer them the flowers and the books again.’ The nurses obeyed; but at the approach of the roses, at the mere sight of those gaily-coloured images of pussy and cock-a-doodle-doo and baa-baa black sheep, the infants shrank away in horror; the volume of their howling suddenly increased” (page 30).
By raising the children in factories, and not by actual parents, there’s no risk of these children growing up and rebelling because they were all trained in the same way, to not like the same things. And, each of these children are assessed to different groups, where they are supposed to fit in, where they are supposed to feel as if they fit in. And, it is highly unlikely that someone will not fit in because these groups were chosen carefully.
Furthermore, when it comes to times of sadness and despair, Bernard, Linda, and Lenina each give up a part of their own individuality in order to continue to stick to the conventions of the World State society, which consequently adds to their struggle to find a way to fit in. Focusing on Bernard, his physical appearance is one of the most obvious reasons as to why he doesn’t fit in, what sets him apart from being an Alpha. “Bernard’s physique was hardly better than the average Gamma.” And along with his physical appearance, Bernard also has the capability to think differently than most citizens in this World State can ever even accomplish.
When Bernard goes on his date with Lenina, he goes as far as to make a comment on the sea, “It makes me feel as though…” he hesitated, searching for words with which to express himself, “as though I were more me, if you see what I mean. More on my own, not so completely a part of something else. Not just a cell in the social body. Doesn’t it make you feel like that, Lenina” (page 90)? However, despite his different physical and personality traits, he doesn’t exercise his differences that would challenge the World State.
For example, he strives to want to be like Helmholtz, “wishing . . . that he could have as many girls as Helmholtz did,” instead of embracing himself for who he is; Bernard continually falls into conformity and tries to follow an order than is not compatible with whom he is. Instead of exploring and questioning the world around him, he takes soma as his form of suppression to try to solve his problems of fitting into society. By setting aside his personal traits, he becomes another conformist to the conventions of World State.
Similarly, Lenina possesses mental characteristics that do not fit into the World State. Lenina tends to be in a relationship with only one guy, rather than going out with many guys as conditioned by the World State. Once John comes to visit the World State, Lenina immediately falls in love with him and can not stop thinking about him, displaying human emotions that citizens should not have in the World State. Her human emotions are apparent during the evening when she waits for John to come out for the Arch-Community Songster: “. . . she sat in a corner, cut off from those who surrounded her by an emotion which they did not share . . . ” (173).
From her personality, Lenina is fit for a love that involves emotion and connection, but Lenina decides to abide by her society and chooses to have a love surrounding by blind sex and no feelings. Through this decision, she conforms to the norm, actively contributing to the conditions of her society opposite of her true self. She goes further to take soma after John does not show up for Bernard’s presentation, which, similar to Bernard’s soma fix, only prolongs her problem: “But in the intervals I still like him. I shall always like him” (188). Through her usage of soma, she follows the methods of the World State, throwing away her individuality and causing herself more distress and conflict with her love affairs.
Finally, Linda has unique characteristics due to her life spent in the Savage Reservation and giving birth to her son John. Linda, despite being conditioned to be horrified at the idea of having a baby, still loves her son John. This is apparent when John talks about his childhood experiences with Bernard, describing the time Linda was beating up John: “He opened his eyes again and saw that she was looking at him. He tried to smile at her. Suddenly she put her arms round him and kisses him again and again” (127). Since Linda has an emotional attachment to John, she has a personality different from the other citizens of the World State Society.
However, despite the motherly connection that she could have continued with John, she chooses to sell her life to the drug soma. When Lenina lays dying in the hospital with John next to her, she unconsciously chooses her life of sex and soma she used to have over John: “She knew him for John, her son, but fancied him an intruder into that paradisal Malpais where she had been spending her soma-holiday with Pope” (205). In the very end, Linda suppresses her emotional love for John with soma and goes back to the principles and pleasantries of the World State Society. Bernard, Lenina, and Linda all have unique characteristics that set them apart from the regular citizens of the World State Society.
In conclusion, all three characters have unknowingly fallen into the conformities of the state’s defective rules, preferably choosing to abide to the state’s values that seemingly do not fit their own characteristics. The World State’s guidelines and regulations pull all the citizens of the World State, including Bernard, Lenina, and Linda, who are apparently different, into one lifestyle of living through a domino effect of conformity: the more people that are conform, the harder it is to resist the urge to conform with them. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World shows the devastating effects of conformity.
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