Brave New Word is set about 600 years from the present where the whole of human society is dominated by World Controllers whose main goal is ensure the societys happiness and stability. The fundamental principle behind this society is utilitarianism, which seeks to attain the maximum level of overall happiness of every individual. This was achieved by limiting the persons intelligence and scope of emotion to match his or her job or social status. The people are also socially conditioned by drugs and constant brainwashing. Drug-induced happiness though the substance soma, is the social norm.
It is a society that permits hedonism and sexual promiscuity, but does not allow the concept of love and family to exist. The utilitarian goal is to make the society happy and thus be more efficient. It aims to create social stability by ensuring that limitations are placed on the abilities of each individual. In The Gift, the people are genetically engineered not to see color and distinguish music. In addition to that, the Sameness of every individual is the goal that was to be attained. Both The Gift and Brave New World portray highly structured societies where there is no place for genuine love and family in its truest sense.
However, family and childhood arrangements are portrayed differently: in Huxleys novel, there are no families or definite partners but there exists a caste system, as opposed to Lowrys novel wherein families are created by matching up men and women based on personality. In both cases, the members of the society have no control over their lives and their futures are decided by others. This is definitely not a beneficial arrangement in the context of living a full, purposeful life. For example, in Brave New World, the population was controlled through technological interventions that actually change what they want in life.
Embryos were conceived, in assembly lines wherein each one is engineered with qualities that would give them a predetermined role in society. When people are living happy lives where pain and anguish are eliminated, both societies in Brave New World and The Giver seem ideal at first glance. War, poverty, and ugliness, and in the case of The Gift, even memories have been eliminated and everyone seems to be permanently happy. Who does this kind of society benefit? In Brave New World, the people are trained to become good consumers and workers to keep the economy strong.
A caste system where every individual is contented with their designated caste is created to ensure the functioning of the society. In The Gift, people are assigned their own roles in the community, including their partners and children. This is beneficial to society as a whole in a sense that the arrangement easily maintains its existence without trouble. In a superficial level, it looks like the human race is better off being happy, but in a deeper context, the ways by which this happiness is achieved robs the very of meaning of life.
Life in those societies is cheap and without worth, since every person is replaceable. Existing just for the sake of it is not living at all”as Huxley succinctly quotes: the purpose of life was not the maintenance of well being, but some intensification and refining of consciousness, some enlargement of knowledge. The state of bliss has been attained by eliminating the very things that defined humanity”art, music, literature, philosophy, and all things that generate passion and emotion. This is definitely not beneficial to any society, and would not bode well within our own society today.
The individuals in both novels have no genuine feelings”they are living a mindless, passionless existence. Ultimately, a society where individualism and creativity are frowned upon, where people do not make choices on their own, and live in false happiness is not a beneficial one to the individuals that comprise it and to humanity as a whole.
Bibliography Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 1998. Lowry, Lois. The Giver. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1993.