The book Brave New World was written as a futuristic tale by English author Aldous Huxley in the early 1930s. This story of a utopian society struggling with the nuances of existence shares significant parallels with the common issues experienced in Europe and America in the 1920s. This period of modernism in the world broke the traditional mold of the way society was for the past several hundred years. A stronger emphasis on socialism, consumerism, technology, drugs, and sex filled the era. Huxley, who experienced this change firsthand, could have written Brave New World as a form of social commentary to provide his own rendition of the way things were and the way things could eventually become. Americas “cultural civil war.” (1) could have been viewed by Huxley as the beginning of moral decay in a soon-to-be undesirable society. To support this hypothesis and provide a better understanding of Huxleys purpose, the comparing and contrasting of both the psychoanalytical theory and Feminist theory will take place.
Psychoanalytic literary theory is the brainchild of psychologist Sigmund Freud and can be used to uncover critical connections between the author and their work. Freudian analysis states that our mental lives derive largely from biological drives (2), that all compulsions can be traced back to animalistic impulses and instincts which originate within us from different points in development including childhood and puberty. Its not coincidental that these compulsions can be seen clearly in Brave New World. Feminism literary theory, when looked at simplistically, examines the roles of women in literature from an equality standpoint. Are women treated differently than men? If so, how are they different and how can that relate to the author? Specifically, looking into the role of mothers within the story could prove to be extremely important to uncovering Huxleys true purpose.
The excerpt from Brave New World that offers extreme insight to the psychoanalytic perspective is the infant nursery where babies undergo classical conditioning on a severely inhumane level. Readers are introduced to the thought process of being motherless through the existence of the childrens less than conventional rearing. The notion that children can be conditioned for the benefit of all is where we see the parallels with Freuds notion of animalistic impulses and instincts (2) stated above. The idea of the unconscious taking over when forced out to produce conditioned behavior is straight out of the Freudian handbook. These primal compulsions, brought about through the stated conditioning and oxygen restriction, are the main factors for control within Huxleys created society. A passage from the story reviews just how underplayed these actions are in this crafted world. The surrogate goes round slower; therefore passes through the lung at longer intervals;
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