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Happiness, Peace, and the “Greater Good” Discourse in Brave New World

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On the other hand, we have Mustapha Mond (‘monde’, or world in French, as it happens). He is sociopathic, but wears the costume of a benevolent, articulate, and self-possessed father figure.

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The chapters in question (16 and 17) reveal that Mustapha Mond used to be a curious and revolutionary scientist, and what is more, still has access to the very thing he bans, namely books, religious or otherwise. He has chosen to abandon that way of life for one of control and stability. He does not deride the old world, but rather, believes that humans were enslaved to immaterial things like their emotions and their unpredictable desires and beliefs; he would rather they be enslaved to material things that can be reproduced endlessly, and tailored to tastes and demands.

What could go wrong, right?

Mond, additionally, admits to abominable theories, like the inequality of human beings, the beauty of science used on genetics and creation, and the inherent hierarchy of things depending on their value. He gladly admits that ancient societies, with their beauty, art, and passion were beautiful, but he renounces this in favor of longevity (which ironically contradicts the instant gratification of mass consumption) and stability; this, he would rather do under the cover of hedonism rather than totalitarian oppression.

Perhaps the most bothersome aspect of Mond’s ideology is that some of it almost makes sense — or rather, is presented in a beautiful package of eloquent argumentation; and while I always thought that Mond had the capacity for a chilling brand of cruelty, it’s notable that he does not make overt use of force in the book — after all, despite rebelling in the novel, neither John, Bernard nor Helmholtz are killed, when they would have easily been disposed of in a story like Fahrenheit 451.

While I also never agreed with him, I did always respect that his dystopia took the form of pleasure and recreation, rather than the obliteration of it, even if it’s only surface-deep. We’ve all read Orwell’s 1984, witnessed the repugnant violence of Gilead (The Handmaid’s Tale), panted through the clawing horror of Koushun Takami’s Battle Royale.

Yes, Brave New World is a poison-filled candy, but at least it tastes good.

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