Huxley’s Brave New World and Zamyatin’s We
A look at how each novel portends a future of a society which excessively stifles individuality and warns of a future of science, technology and rationalism carried to an excessive degree and not guided by ethics.
“Both Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We tell of dystopias where people love the chains of their own restraint; they have been conditioned to love their oppression. In both novels, an oppressive government stifles individuality and discourages creativity. If people are not free to make choices, they cannot suffer negative consequences of their own choices. In both works, a hideous and ominous breed of science controls the human race; people’s actions are controlled to an excessive degree by an authoritarian but widely loved government. The society in We, though, takes this personal repression to a greater degree than does the society depicted in Brave New World. The true dystopia in Brave New World is revealed through a highly intelligent `savage`, who chooses not to participate in the society’s oblivious blissfulness, and who tries to reveal the errors in the ways of the society. The dystopic element in We is delineated by means of a Doctor who, in the midst of his mathematical calculations, discovers that he has a soul, a true deficit to the society in which he lives. To a greater degree in We than in Brave New World, individuals are objectified and individual behavior is stifled. While in Brave New World, science controls the human race even before babies are decanted, individuality is obviated to a more significant degree in We. The novels contrast, though, in the author’s treatment of rational thought. While in Brave New World, individuals are incapable of logical thought, in We, reason is the citizens’ primary handicap. The society in We objectifies everything to such a degree that even thought and love are explained by a mathematical equation. Each novel portends a future of a society which excessively stifles individuality and warns of a future of science, technology and rationalism carried to an excessive degree and not guided by ethics. Each novel criticizes various aspects of society. The degree and the specific focus of this criticism, though, varies between the novels.”