The Issue of Happiness in the Book Brave New World Essay Example

In the book Brave New World, Aldous Huxley uses symbolism to demonstrate that humans do not have the capacity for growth without individual struggle. Throughout the book, characters go through struggle after struggle, but never grow due to the suppression of emotion through soma. Soma is a drug used in the World State to keep society at bay due to a lack of feeling. One example of this is the inability to comprehend literature with strong emotion. As Helmholtz talks to John about Shakespeare he states, "You can't make tragedies without social instability. The world's stable now. People are happy"(220). In this passage, Huxley uses the motif of "stability" and "instability" to reiterate the use of soma and artificial happiness to stunt development. This is shown through Helmholtz inability to understand Shakespeare. Although he can comprehend from a structural standpoint it is good writing, he connects to it in no way. Due to his conditioning and consumption of soma, he has never experienced tragedy therefore making him unable to relate with the characters of Shakespeare. As a result of never feeling intense emotion or emotion at all, members of the world state can not progress. Everything in the World State's society is structured in a particular way that leads to stability but takes away from human growth. Soma also stops growth through the development of universal happiness. While describing soma's replacement of religion, Mustapha Mond states, "Call it the fault of civilization. God isn't compatible with machinery and scientific medicine and universal happiness" (234). Huxley uses soma as a substitute for God. In the World State people have no need to subscribe to a mysterious higher power because there is no fear of what comes next. With no apprehension or fear of the future, what brings many to confide in God is stripped away. Likewise, without fear there is also no need for courage or strength. Anything that would challenge someone to become better and wiser is blocked out and suppressed. Soma makes what would be challenging easy therefore success is not as sweet. Without failure there is no true success because nothing changes from normal to great. Due to the inability to have more than one singular emotion change of character is impossible. Another example of the lack of growth is shown through John's desire to change. Mustapha Mond explains the life John desires, a life without soma by saying :

You're claiming the right to be unhappy. Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right to have syphilis and cancer, the right to have too little to eat; the right to be lousy; the right to live in constant apprehension of what may happen tomorrow; the right to catch typhoid; the right to be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind. (Huxley 240)

Huxley is describing struggle, which is only possible in the absence of soma. John wants a life that is truly his, even if it comes with hardship, he understands it is needed for growth. Mustapha Mond also understands this, the only difference is he would rather have "stability" and be in a constant state of artificial happiness, then have moments of true happiness that also come with sadness. The full potential of happiness is not realized without sadness. Soma makes the World State numb, creating a false feeling of contentment and no need for growth. This keeps society stuck and stagnant, because they feel there is no need for personal development. In order to grow there needs to be a challenge, and challenges come from hardship and the ability to fail. Today most people avoid what keeps the World State from moving forward. Aldous Huxley comments on societies avoidance and dislike of what challenges and terrifies them. Through soma he relays the point, although in the current time it may be a relief in the long run hiding and suppressing our issues only hinders our growth. Huxley uses symbolism in Brave New World to illustrate in the absence of personal struggle there is no positive or negative change.


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