Throughout history and even in the current society people have ruled over others, putting them in chains and keeping them hidden behind bars, but were they really stripped of their freedom? “The moment the slave resolves that he will no longer be a slave, his fetters fall” (Gandhi). Everyone is born free and as long as they believe they are free, nobody can take that away from them. People believe they possess no notion of power which ultimately leads them to suffer. In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley is trying to convince the reader that, “freedom and slavery are mental states” (Gandhi). Each character inhibits to their world by changing their identity to be a part of a dystopian society, taking drugs to suppress their true feelings and choosing to ignore freedom.
This book is filled with characters who try to change who they are to fit in with their dystopian societies. They say they are captured by their world and are forced to commit, but it is really their own choices that compels them to be enslaved. Bernard, a character much disliked by others forgets about his real identity after becoming popular, he becomes a normal Alpha male sleeping with different girls, “one on Monday, two on Tuesday, two more on Friday, and one on Saturday” (Huxley. 156) bragging about them and enjoying his life. Marx believing himself to be a rebel thinks that he lives in a materialistic world with no individual freedom just sex and mindless entertainment, he feels confined in his world, as if the people were being forced to act in such a way. He gets upset when Henry talks about Lenina, “as though she were a bit of meat. Degrading her to so much mutton.” (38). After becoming famous the principles and concepts of individuality Bernard fought for disappear, he completely changes who he is to become another brainless minion giving up his freedom finding pleasure in the life he hates. Similarly, Mustapha Mond (a world controller) confesses that he, “was given the choice: to be sent to an island… or to be taken on to the Controllers’ Council…” He chooses to be a controller, “and let the science go” (200). For him the island is a place where, “the most interesting set of men and women” (199) are found. He lets his chance at freedom go, forgets who he is and alters his personality to be controlled by society. Even John who lives on a savage reservation is never a part of that society, he is an outsider. He tries to fit in with them and stand with them but they, “pull him out of the ranks”. He tries to break free and join, “his place among the others,” but, “the man struck him” and, “pulled his hair” (119). Instead of accepting who he really is, he tries to fit in with the norms of their society and would willingly give up his distinctiveness and his personality to become a part of their society. Through these characters, it is evident that they are the ones who put them in chains, they themselves throw away their freedom, change their identities and enslave themselves to be a part of the society they hate.
In the World State, people are afraid to be left alone with their emotions, so they take drugs like soma to hide their true feelings from themselves, thus blinding them from the fact that they are slaves in a dystopian world. After Bernard learns that the director is sending him to Iceland, he freaks out and rages, “against himself” calling himself, “a fool!” going, “against the Director” and he ends up taking, “four tablets of soma” (90). Marx does not understand that he is different from other people because he chooses to be free, he starts fighting for freedom but when he faces a challenge the way normal people do in their lives, he flips out. So instead of fighting for his freedom and individuality, he takes drugs and for a while becomes another slave of the society. Likewise, Lenina who loves John so much that, “two tears rolled down her cheeks” (227) decides to take, “three half-gramme tablets” (149) of soma to get over John instead of embracing her feelings for him. Throughout the book it is clear that Lenina goes through different types of feelings especially because the men who love her express their individuality freely but she chooses to ignore. She is conditioned to be another minion but so are Helmholtz, Bernard and all the people living on the interesting island however they are not oblivious to pure human nature. Lenina is not either, she is just too scared to embrace herself as a human, so she takes drugs to help her put her mind to sleep and become a robot working for the World State. Linda is no different, now that she is back she should have reverted to her old ways but returning from the reservation meant, “the return to soma, the possibility of lying in bed and taking holiday after holiday, without ever having to come back to a headache or a fit of vomiting” (133). She uses soma to blur the lines between reality (her experience in the savage world) and fantasy (the world she returned to) instead of accepting her freedom, so she dies a slave, once freed but returned to chains. They all choose slavery over freedom thinking they have no choice and let drugs drain their minds of thinking they could ever have better lives.
Most people choose to ignore problems because they annoy and hurt them, but in Brave New World people ignore freedom and individuality to become slaves working in the World State. Mustapha Mond submits to be a slave of the society, justifying his decision saying, “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” (194). Mond aware of everything, knows what life was like in the primitive days and in the new world, he is, “one of the very few” (192) who reads Shakespeare and has an idea of the beauty of art. In spite of being one of the controllers of the world, he accepts all the conditions of the world knowing he is society’s slave even when he could have easily gained his liberty. Similarly, Linda living in the savage reservation for more than twenty years never noticed the culture, art and rules of the society, her best memories at the reservation, “were when she told John about the Other Place” (110). Living in a different environment for about twenty years has an influence on a person as it did on Linda, she let herself go which is probably the single most important thing to women in the World State. She has the best chance to experience true human nature but she let peyotl cloud her judgment. One can believe she does not want to be anything other than a part of a machine even though she is thrown out, she still considers herself as that part rather than being a free soul. Thirdly the DHC, a man who follows rules and regulations strictly falls in love but fails to embrace his feelings. Bernard is shocked to learn, “that the Director disapproved” of his plan to go to the savage reservation, “yet had been betrayed into doing the forbidden thing” (83) himself, he, “dreams of searching and searching for her under the trees” (84) because he loved her dearly and felt guilty for leaving her behind. The guilt, remorse, and love he feels are human responses in an inhumane world. He experiences these emotions because, despite the conditioning, his brain lets him feel, develop a personality but Tomakin, like all the others ignores his freedom and love, to live an empty, happy life. They all lose sight of their true personalities and give in to the enslavement to become mindless bodies working in the world state.
Given these points, it is clear that in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, readers are being informed that they get to choose if they want to live freely or in chains, all the people living in the World State are like slaves because they change who they are to fit in with the society, they take drugs to hide their emotions from themselves and they choose to ignore freedom. Freedom is the right to do anything one wants, it means having a choice. Everyone is born free and no one can take that away. Even if they put one in chains they are still free and there is nothing preventing them from fighting to earn their physical freedom. The moment one submits to another person is when they ignore their freedom.