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He also says that he wants to be more on his own, "not so completely a part of something else. Not just a cell in the social body" (90).
Later, he tells her that he wants to "know what passion is... I want to feel something strongly" (94). The only way that Lenina can respond is by telling him that when the "individual feels, the community reels" (94). His feelings and inclinations that there must be something better is a testament that humanity is born with the notion to be free. Keith May maintains, "The chief illusion which Brave New World shatters has less to do with an unthinking faith in scientific progress than with the assumption that truth, beauty, and happiness are reconcilable goods on the plane of ordinary, unregenerate human activity'" (May qtd. In Hochman). Hochman adds that the only way to deal with the nasty little ideas of truth and beauty is to eliminate them. (Hochman) This occurs in Brave New World, but not without consequences. We see the consequences more than most of the characters in the novel but the uselessness of humanity is emphasized through the characters of Bernard and, especially, the Savage.
George Woodcock claims that it takes something unfamiliar to jolt Bernard into a sort of "awakening." When Bernard and Lenina go the Reservation and meet the Svage, they encounter a man that is "not only a savage; he has also acquired a copy of Shakespeare, which, with the mixed heathen-Christian native cults, has enriched his language and shaped his outlook. In our sense he is far more 'cultured,' if not more 'civilized,' than the Utopians" (Woodcock). Even is he isn ot more civilized, he has something in him that is more human than most of the other characters we encounter in Brave New World. The Savage has a spirit which cannot be contained and he is not afraid to ask questions. This is a stark contrast when we look at Lenina, a woman who would rather take her soma than ask a though-provoking question or have an enlightening thought. The constrast of the two individuals illustrates the extremes in which our society can go.
In 1984, our outsider is Winston. Like the Savage, he asks questions and wants answers. The most prominent feature in Orwell's 1984 is the presence of Big Brother. Like the Savage and Bernard, Winston represents the free will that longs to escape. We see the oppression that Big Brother causes simply by its omnipresence. From the first pages in the novel, we are aware of Big Brother being everywhere all the time, just like the characters are reminded from their telescreens. We read that there is no way to know "whether you were being watched at any given moment... It was conceivable that they watched everybody all the time" (Orwell 2). From the perspective of a reader, we sense the nagging notion that the characters are not alone. Winston tells us, "Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull" (24). In a way, the restraints placed on individuals in 1984 in more severe than they are in Brave New World because in Brave New World, the characters are conditioned to be a certain way and they are sedated to not know the difference between what they really want and what they are being fed. For example, we read:
To wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offense. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime it was called. Your worst enemy was your own nervous system. Any moment the tension inside you was liable to translate itself into some visible symptom. (Orwell 55)
Here we see how Big Brother has pervaded every aspect of human life.
1984 is filled with Thought Police, which make things even worse. Winston says, "At home and in bed in the darkness you were safe from the telescreen so long as you kept silent" (96-7). These are examples of the lack of individuality that society experiences. The fact that Winston is aware of what is going on is evidence enough that something is wrong. Winston's diary reveals his need for freedom and individuality and the fact that he recognizes the fact that your worst enemy is your own nervous system. (56)
Malcolm Pittock maintains that the society in Oceania does not allow for martyrs or anyone above average. He also claims "any would-be rebel is disabled from the start. Formed by an inhuman society, he will already be infected by it because he is serving its purposes. Winston grasps the significance of the systematic falsification of the past by the regime, but he is not only actively engaged in it but actually enjoys it" (Pittock). His comment hones in on the conflict of the story. Winston is a product and a victim of the world in which he lives. He is aware, of the truth but only vaguely.
In 1984, we see the same type of natural resistance to the so-called utopia in Winston. He does not find an intellectual equal in Julia; O'Brien stimulates his thoughts and provides him with a sense of hope for the future. Undoubtedly, this hope and his inability to allow the Party to control his mind lead him into trouble. After endless torture, Winston cannot bring himself to love Big Brother. This is not to say he does not try. In fact, he does try to stomach the rhetoric but it does no good. He was quite certain that the Party would shoot him and when they did, he decided that he would die hating them. That alone would be his freedom. O'Brien tell shim it is not enough to" obey him; you must love him" (Orwell 232). The fact that Winston succumbs in the end only reinforces the need for freedom and individualism. He does love Big Brother but it is not by his own choice. In fact, it is only through tremendous suffering that Winston does give in. He is tortured
1984 and Brave New World are novels that warn against the dangers of totalitarianism. While many consider these novels extreme in nature, they are precise in their message. As a society, we must take care not to let the government get too big. While we have seen how socialism fails and exacerbates the chasm between the upper and lower classes, we should not turn a blind eye to other ways that government can control society. We also know that control is something that occurs slowly over time - generally one small step at a time. Society does not wake up one day and realize it has been suddenly overrun, it wakes up one day and realizes that is has been gradually taken. As a collective entity, society can hold its own if it so chooses. There is no doubt that freedom and individuality have a high price tag but it is a price worth paying. While these novels portray individuals as too weak to stand up against greater forces the underlying message remains the same, which is that mankind is born with a desire to be free and regardless of mind control and manipulation, it cannot rid the soul of its innate yearning to be liberated.
McGiveron put it succinctly when he says, "only by preserving our humanity and individuality can we avoid the same failure" (McGiveron). Indeed, we must learn from the mistakes of others.
Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. New York: Harper and Row Publishers. 1960.
Hochman, Jhan. "An overview of Brave New World." GALE Resource Database. Site Accessed March 24, 2008. www.infotrac.galegroup.com
Hochman, Jhan. "An Overview of Brave New World." Exploring Novels. 1998. GALE Resource Database. Site Accessed March 24, 2008. www.infotrac.galegroup.com
McGiveron, Rafeeq. "Huxley's Brave New World." EBSCO Resource Database. Site Accessed March 24, 2008. www.searchepnet.com
Orwell, George. 1984. New York: Harcourt Brace. 1977. GALE Resources Database. Site Accessed March 24, 2008. www.infotrac.galegroup.com
Pittock, Malcolm. "The Hell of Nineteen Eighty-Four." GALE Resources Database. Site…[continue]
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