University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Freedom vs Happiness in Brave New World
There are many things that people pursue, such as wealth, prestige, or the latest technology. Of our many pursuits, the most essential are happiness and freedom. However, a question arises: can we possess both happiness and freedom? Most people may not have a clear answer for that. Brave New World, through the actions of its characters, reveals that there exists a conflict between the possession of the two ideas.
Lenina, having been conditioned to be happy, has unconsciously given up the ability to have freedoms. From birth, she was assigned the role of beta plus, trained to not seek art, science or relationships. All of her material needs and wants are met. Nothing can make her feel sadness or desire. Thus, her motive to pursue freedom is non existent. If something against her conditioning comes up, she will feel confused and uncomfortable. While on vacation at the Savage Reservation, she witnesses the savage society, where people have families, religion, and natural aging. She feels disgusted by it, “Too awful” (pg 116), so she goes on Soma holiday to forget about what she has seen. While over the roaring waves of the English Channel, Lenina cannot come to admire the beauty of nature, “She was appalled by the rushing emptiness… among the hastening clouds” (pg. 90). When John professes his love to her, Lenina is unable to understand his feelings, she’s only familiar with physical/sexual relationships, “For Ford’s sake John, talk sense… you’re driving me crazy” (pg. 191). Although her body is free, she lacks spiritual freedom, whether it be in terms of relationships, natural, or cultural beauty.
Opposite to Lenina, John grew up sharing the values of the Indians and William Shakespeare, which are in opposition to those of the World State. Once he comes in contact with “civilization”, he realises that his values are rejected by the “civilized” people. For example, he loves Lenina very much, but gets angry and insulted when she doesn’t understand his motives and tries to initiate sex, “get out of my sight or I’ll kill you” (pg. 194). When his mother dies, he becomes upset with the death conditioning of the children and interferes with it, “The savage looked down at him… did not even look round” (pg 207). Finally, frustrated with the “civilized” world, he tries to lead a group of Deltas by warning them on the negative effects