A Brave New World Quote Analysis

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The absence of books in A Brave New World is an essential component of Aldous Huxley’s dystopian world. In removing books from society, the government enforces the values of “community, identity, stability.” Literature and science contradict these principles by encouraging critical thinking, self-expression, and emotion, which supposedly threaten individuals’ and the community's wellbeing. Huxley’s deliberate decision to eliminate books in A Brave New World exhibits his fear for the future: a mindless, unquestioning population living without the truth and beauty of arts, literature, and science.

The government in A Brave New World expends a great deal of energy to create a homogeneous society. This is evident in the genetic modification
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People think, act, and look the same to avoid inequality, discontent, and consequent conflict, but they lose independent opinion, critical thinking, interpretation, creativity, and deep emotion. Books of the old world contain all this and can incite similar responses in the reader. For example, John experiences the passion, anger, love, and sadness of past generations in his readings. He adopts many old world beliefs and is prone to violent outbursts in which he quotes Shakespeare’s plays. Arts, science, and their search for beauty and truth are therefore deemed “incompatible with happiness” because they lead to individual feelings and discontent instead of collective happiness and loyalty (225). This self-expression and deep emotion violates the common identity; it is exactly what the government aimed to avoid by its “suppression of all books published before A.F. 150” (51).

Books also disseminate influential beliefs that can threaten institutions. For example, Helmholtz's exposure to poetry and literature makes him increasingly disillusioned with his job of creating hypnopaedic mantras. He begins to criticize his vacuous and uninteresting society. The government draws a connection between the critical thinking involved with reading and writing and such questioning and challenging the status quo. Thus the government decides to remove books entirely — to suppress individuality