I recently read ‘Brave New World’ by Aldous Huxley, and it left me with mixed feelings. But the most outstanding thing about this dystopian novel was its similarity with our current society despite the fact that it was written 90 years ago.
It’s terrifying to realize how many things described in this book ring the bell. I was left with one unsettling question: Is our society heading towards Huxley’s dystopia? Some quotes from Brave New World literally sound like the author was talking about modern society.
Society in ‘Brave New World’
The dystopian society described in Aldous Huxley’s book is based on mindless consumerism, the caste system, and heavy social conditioning. All children are born through artificial reproduction, and thus, people are raised in castes, not families.
The very concept of family or mothership is considered offensive and inappropriate. People get together just to have fun and sex – emotional connections between them are nonexistent. All they care about is the never-ending entertainment.
Since all people are conditioned into this mentality from birth, everyone is perfectly comfortable and happy in their ignorance. To keep things this way, society makes sure they are as busy and distracted as possible. One of the ways to achieve this is to give everyone a drug called soma, which makes one mindlessly happy.
Huxley’s world is inhabited by generations of empty-headed individuals who never grow old, get sick, or reach emotional maturity. It’s a world that has no place for thinkers and dreamers; as well as for art, science, and culture. But as in most dystopian novels, there are exceptions – people who are capable of deep thought and, therefore, don’t fit into this shallow society.
40 Most Relatable Brave New World Quotes
1. “You can’t consume much if you sit still and read books.”
2. “The optimum population is modeled on the iceberg- eight-ninths below the water line, one-ninth above.”
3. “In a word, they failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.”
4. “The greater a man’s talents, the greater his power to lead astray.”
5. “Happiness has got to be paid for. You’re paying for it, Mr. Watson–paying because you happen to be too much interested in beauty. I was too much interested in truth; I paid too.”
6. “It isn’t only art that is incompatible with happiness, it’s also science. Science is dangerous, we have to keep it most carefully chained and muzzled.”
7. “Well, I’d rather be unhappy than have the sort of false, lying happiness you were having here.”
8. “But that’s the price we have to pay for stability. You’ve got to choose between happiness and what people used to call high art. We’ve sacrificed the high art.”
9. “The world’s stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get. They’re well off; they’re safe; they’re never ill; they’re not afraid of death; they’re blissfully ignorant of passion and old age; they’re plagued with no mothers or fathers; they’ve got no wives, or children, or lovers to feel strongly about; they’re so conditioned that they practically can’t help behaving as they ought to behave. And if anything should go wrong, there’s soma.”
10. “Wouldn’t you like to be free to be happy in some other way, Lenina? In your own way, for example; not in everybody else’s way.”
11. “As if one believed anything by instinct! One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them.”
12. “Civilization has absolutely no need of nobility or heroism. These things are symptoms of political inefficiency. In a properly organized society like ours, nobody has any opportunities for being noble or heroic.”
13. “Whenever the masses seized political power, then it was happiness rather than truth and beauty that mattered.”
14. “You’ve got to choose between happiness and what people used to call high art.”
15. “And instability means the end of civilization. You can’t have a lasting civilization without plenty of pleasant vices.”
16. “There was something called democracy. As though men were more than physico-chemically equal.”
17. “Even science must sometimes be treated as a possible enemy. Yes, even science.”
18. “The greatest care is taken to prevent you from loving anyone too much. There’s no such thing as a divided allegiance; you’re so conditioned that you can’t help doing what you ought to do. And what you ought to do is on the whole so pleasant, so many of the natural impulses are allowed free play, that there really aren’t any temptations to resist.”
19. “Liberty to be inefficient and miserable. Freedom to be a round peg in a square hole.”
20. “What fun it would be if one didn’t have to think about happiness.”
21. “It is their duty to be infantile, even against their inclination.”
22. “Everybody happy and no one ever sad or angry, and every one belonging to every one else.”
23. “What would it be like if I were free, not enslaved by my conditioning?”
24. “We haven’t any use for old things here.” “Even when they’re beautiful?” “Particularly when they’re beautiful. Beauty’s attractive, and we don’t want people to be attracted by old things. We want them to like the new ones.”
25. “But as time goes on, they, as all men, will find that independence was not made for man—that it is an unnatural state—will do for a while, but will not carry us on safely to the end . . .”
26. “That is the secret of happiness and virtue – liking what you’ve got to do. All conditioning aims at that: making people like their unescapable social destiny.”
27. “I’d rather be myself,” he said. “Myself and nasty. Not somebody else, however jolly.”
28. “But people never are alone now,” said Mustapha Mond. “We make them hate solitude; and we arrange their lives so that it’s almost impossible for them ever to have it.”
29. “No offense is so heinous as unorthodoxy of behavior. Murder kills only the individual–and after all, what is an individual? Unorthodoxy threatens more than the life of a mere individual; it strikes at Society itself.”
30. “We don’t want to change. Every change is a menace to stability. That’s another reason why we’re so chary of applying new inventions.”
31. “But, Bernard, we shall be alone all night.” Bernard blushed and looked away. “I meant, alone for talking,” he mumbled. “Talking? But what about?” Walking and talking—that seemed a very odd way of spending an afternoon.”
32. “But truth’s a menace, science is a public danger.”
33. “That which had made Helmholtz so uncomfortably aware of being himself and all alone was too much ability.”
34. “All our science is just a cookery book, with an orthodox theory of cooking that nobody’s allowed to question, and a list of recipes that mustn’t be added to except by special permission from the head cook.”
35. “If one’s different, one’s bound to be lonely.”
36. “Imagine the folly of allowing people to play elaborate games which do nothing whatever to increase consumption.”
37. “And why should we go hunting for a substitute for youthful desires, when youthful desires never fail? A substitute for distractions, when we go on enjoying all the old fooleries to the very last? What need have we of repose when our minds and bodies continue to delight in activity? of consolation, when we have soma? of something immovable, when there is the social order?”
38. “Sixty-two thousand four hundred repetitions make one truth.”
39. “Our Ford himself did a great deal to shift the emphasis from truth and beauty to comfort and happiness. Mass production demanded the shift. Universal happiness keeps the wheels steadily turning; truth and beauty can’t.”
40. “In a world in which everything is available, nothing has any meaning.”
Brave New World: The Prophetic Novel
What do you feel after reading these quotes from Brave New World? Did you too notice similarities with our modern life?
Most of these quotes show how Huxley’s society works – there is no freedom of thought because everyone is conditioned into being a mindless consumer and caring only about fleeting pleasures. Everyone just wants to be superficially happy and comfortable.
And the funny thing is that people believe that they are free. They don’t need anything more than what they have. They don’t seek meaning or truth.
Doesn’t all this remind you of our society? The role models of today are cocky celebrities and shallow social media influencers.
Most people are busy pursuing material gains and proving to everyone else how successful and happy they are. The majority is not interested in living a life of purpose or doing something meaningful.
But then there are Brave New World quotes that demonstrate the struggle of being a thinking human being in such a society. There are people who don’t want this false happiness with its illusions and meaningless entertainments.
They are intelligent and deep-thinking individuals who don’t want to live a lie. They want the truth, the meaning; they ask themselves uncomfortable questions and challenge society’s values. And in the end, they feel painfully alone.
Inevitably, social rejection is the only available path for people who think for themselves and don’t conform.
Which of these quotes did you find the most relatable and why?
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This Post Has 3 Comments
I have been asking myself the same questions regarding Mary Shelley and modern medicine.
I realised this several years ago and reread Brave New World 10 years ago. Three years ago Uber applied to the US CAA for a licence to fly electrically powered helicopters from office and apartment buildings. Last a company in Bristol UK did the same with the UK CAA authority for similar reasons. In BNW, two of the main characters do something similar?? Not to mention Boston Dynamics!? Be aware the future has its foot in the door! Melvyn
You’ve saved the best for the last.