An Analysis of Emotional Conditioning in Brave New World
(if your I.Q. is slightly above moronic you should be able to see some similarities to our society)      

    In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley portrays a futuristic technology-based dystopia in
which human emotions and relationships are of secondary importance to the stability and
perpetuation of civilized society.  By avoiding their emotions, the characters lose their
uniqueness and importance as individual human beings.  Huxley chronicles the
introduction of an emotionally-charged Savage into this emotional void and uses the
Savage’s emotions and values to exaggerate the warped emotions and values of civilized
society.  Brave New World is a somewhat didactic piece of literature.  Though the
futuristic world Huxley portrays is the epitome of peaceful efficiency, the inhabitants
themselves are conditioned to repress all natural emotions causing them to lose their
individuality and innate worth and sanctity as human beings.
     Not the least, though perhaps the most subtle, of the emotional conditioning
 techniques used to keep the members of civilized society from developing strong
emotions is the method of distraction.  Everyone is conditioned from birth not “to
indulge in any solitary amusements” (Huxley 133), eliminating the ability to have
personal experiences or thoughts.  In addition to the ingrained impulse to avoid being
alone, or even alone with two or three others, civilized people are constantly bombarded
with distractions in their everyday lives.  They are actively encouraged to spend all
leisure time watching television, listening to the radio, or participating in complex sports,
which keep them constantly entertained.  Everyone is also encouraged to take soma, a
legal  drug, as a means of escaping unpleasant feelings.  The dependence of civilized
people on these distractions is strikingly displayed on a date between Lenina and Bernard
(a social outcast).  Bernard takes Lenina to the ocean, which he enjoys looking at and
contemplating in silence.  Lenina, a typical civilized person, begins to cry as soon as
Bernard shuts off the radio in his vehicle.  She is incapable of handling the trauma of real
life without distractions and the necessity of entertaining herself and thinking for herself.
She prefers the hazy, preoccupied pseudo-happiness of soma, perfume, television and
radio to any other emotion, however genuine.
     In this respect, Lenina is the opposite of the Savage who unhesitatingly tells
Bernard, “I’d rather be unhappy than have the sort of false lying happiness that you were
having here (in the civilized world)”(Huxley 145).  The Savage has been exposed to a
wide range of circumstances in his life, and he has experienced an equally broad range of
distraction-free emotions, all of which supply him with a rich reserve of  personal
memories.  He has had time to contemplate these experiences, learn from them, and grow
as a person.  No one else on earth has had the same experiences or the same emotions
that the Savage has.  No one else has developed the same knowledge that he has.
Therefore, he is valuable and irreplaceable, both as an individual and as a member of
    Civilized people, on the other hand, are constantly distracted by a plethora of
mass activities.  They work en masse, play en masse, eat en masse, and have sex en
masse.  They do not have the time or inclination to pursue personal interests and they are
denied any opportunity to contemplate feelings or events.  Thus, the ability to develop
maturity and knowledge, from personal experience, is destroyed.  As civilized people
spend their lives being distracted by the same basic experiences, and all learn very little
from those experiences, any one person has no real value, least of all to society, and is
therefore expendable.
     In civilized society, people are expendable to such an extent that one person is
viewed as being just as good as any other.  Emotional conditioning is designed to prevent
people from becoming too attached to any other particular person.  Humans are not
raised as part of a family, but are produced in ever-improving strains.  No thought is
given to the poor people used in experiments to produce humans who are “full grown at
six and a half”(Huxley 24), but “too stupid to do even Epsilon work”(Huxley 24).
Humans are expendable because, “afterall, what is an individual?...We can make a new
one with the greatest ease”(Huxley 122).  To achieve this kind of thinking, people are
taught from childhood not to favour anyone in particular.  In the middle of World
Controller Mustapha Mond’s discussion with a group of students, one little boy refuses to
engage in erotic play with a little girl.  He is conveniently removed and the girl is sent off
to “find some other little boy to play with”(Huxley 36).  Mond takes this opportunity to
explain the necessity of the maxim, “Everyone belongs to everyone else” (Huxley 42).
With all of the exclusivity in pre-modern times, Mond explains, people “were forced to
feel strongly”(Huxley 43) and these passions made stability impossible.  “ ‘Think of
water under pressure in a pipe’, Mond urges, ‘I pierce it once...What a jet!’  He pierced it
twenty times.  There were twenty piddling little fountains”(Huxley 43).   Such is the
emotional vitality felt by the Savage in comparison with the diluted, weak emotions of
the civilized world, where, “Death has no more significance than losing your first set of
teeth” (Huxley 134) and even Helmholtz, the genius friend of Bernard and the Savage,
thinks that getting worked up over sexual, romantic and filial relationships is ridiculous.
The inhabitants of the civilized world are protected from being emotionally hurt by
another human being because they do not value the words, actions, and opinions of any
other individual on a personal or intimate level.  However, these same people are denied
the ability to hurt others emotionally due to the fact that their own words, actions, and
opinions are considered by all others to be equally worthless, on a personal level.
  These concepts flabbergast the Savage.  The Savage believes that each person is
special and irreplaceable.  He loves Lenina, “more than anything in the world”(Huxley
155) and is hurt and furious when she does not return his love.  He is never attracted to
anyone except Lenina, in the time that he knows her, though he could have had anyone,
because, for the Savage, Lenina is not just anyone.  She is special to him.  He would do
things for her that he would not do for anyone else.   The Savage’s emotions towards his
mother are much the same.  Despite Linda’s faults, the Savage loves her, and because of
his love he is deeply hurt when she retreats into distraction, not even recognizing him
before she dies.  He often spends time visiting Linda in the hospital, though the
experience is far from pleasant.  Even though Linda is not a terrific mother, she is still his
mother.  No one else has shared the things they have.  No one else could ever be his
mother, and no one else could ever be him.   Despite all of the unpleasantness which he
is compelled to feel because of the intensity of his emotions, the Savage still claims, “I
don’t want comfort.  I want God, I want poetry, I want danger, I want freedom, I want
goodness.  I want sin”(Huxley 192). The Savage wants the right to be unhappy, to
struggle unceasingly, and to desire objects which he may never have, and events which
may never occur.
    One of the anomalies of the civilized world is the complete absence of unfulfilled
desires.  The emotional engineers take great care to ensure that any desires can be either
fulfilled or suppressed immediately, thereby thwarting the feeling that “lurks in that
interval of time between desire and its consummation” (Huxley 45) because “when the
individual feels, the community reels” (Huxley 82).  Desire creates passion which is
unpredictable, and thus, dangerous.  Civilized society thrives on instant gratification and
the inhabitants are horrified at the prospect of even a short delay in fulfillment of desire.
Mond reassures the group of students that, “no pains have been spared to make your lives
emotionally easy-to preserve you, so far as that is possible, from having any emotions at
all”(Huxley 44).  In civilized society, recreational sex and the use of soma are practically
obligatory.  Everyone loves his caste and his job.  Peak physical condition is maintained
almost until death.  The work week is calibrated to allow just the right balance of time
between work and recreation, and mass transportation always runs on time.  Thus,
concepts like stress, tension and yearning are virtually stricken from the human mind.
No one is ever driven to desperate measures by illness, poverty, love boredom,
impatience, or frustration. There are no personal challenges and, thus, no personal quests,
crusades, or longings.  Ordinarily, humans base their lives around the fulfillment of these
personal quests which the individual feels he must complete, or at least strive to
complete, during his lifetime.  In the event that an individual does not have a personal
reason for living, there is no need for that exact individual to continue to exist.  Another
will do just as nicely.  In Huxley’s dystopia, these personal quests do not exist because all
desires are quickly satiated and the inhabitants of the civilized world exist in an
unchanging state of lackadaisical content, never knowing the frustration of unattained
desire nor the satisfaction of striving towards a goal, or mastering a difficult challenge.
      At their first meeting, the Savage recalls to Bernard the satisfaction and pride he
had felt when he made his first clay pot.  He finds “pure delight” (Huxley 196) in doing
something that demands “skill and patience” (Huxley 196).  The lack of obstacles in the
civilized world is one of the points which the Savage finds most intolerable, and he often
complains that life in the civilized world is not “expensive enough”(Huxley 130).  The
Savage ardently believes that the value of an object is determined by whatever one will
go through to obtain it.  He is not only concerned about the ease of work.  His finer
senses are offended by the fact that in the civilized world ‘romantic love’ is easily come
by and one suffers very little or no hardship in the process of attaining it.  Love is
therefore not regarded as being precious. The Savage sees love as extremely precious and
even sacred.  He attempts to explain this concept to Lenina by telling her how a young
man from his tribe must kill a mountain lion single-handedly before he proposes
marriage as a way of showing the girl the extreme measures to which his love and desire
for her drive him.  The Savage proceeds to beg Lenina to assign him some dangerous or
difficult task so that he can prove his love to her.
    Though Lenina cannot begin to comprehend the motives for the Savage’s
insistence that one should suffer to attain one’s desires, she does begin to feel some
emotions for him.  As he is continually denied to her, she begins to long for him between
doses of soma.  The Savage becomes valuable to her because she is forced to spend time
and effort in trying to attain him.  Lenina’s emotions for the Savage, however, are
extremely atypical of the civilized world, where life is not focused on the attainment of
desires and self-fulfillment, but rather on the annihilation of both desire and the self.
    The Savage’s refusal to “drink to [his] annihilation”(Huxley 72) is a source of
conflict between himself and civilized society.  He refuses to be part of the masses.  He
refuses to indulge himself in the distractions of sex and soma.  He refuses to let go of his
self-control, humanity, and maturity.  When he finds that he cannot escape the civilized
world in life, he escapes it in death.  He dies alone, but he dies human.  He dies an
irreplaceable individual.  Even to the civilized, there is only one Mr. Savage who is
unlike anyone else and, therefore, valuable.  He dies having known love, hate, guilt,
shame, joy, and loneliness.  He dies fully aware of the fact that he is dying.  On the very
same day that the Savage takes his life, thousands die in the civilized world.  They die
without ever having been fully aware of their lives.  They die without knowing any
emotion except contentedness.  They die identical, easily replaced automatons, blissfully
unaware that they are even dying, and inhuman in their infantile craving for distraction to
the very last.
    Like so many people in the modern world, the people in the dystopia portrayed
within Brave New World die worthless because they are not individuals.  All of them die,
but none of them live.  They are distracted with television, radio, drugs, and social
occasions, never stopping to think about life, merely existing from one distraction to the
next and avoiding potentially unpleasant emotions.  By refusing to face their emotions
they remain stagnant in their own comfort zones, more than willing to be told who they
are and what they want rather than attempting to find out for themselves.  Thus, they are
automatons, not humans. They protect themselves from being hurt by not caring for
others, and, as a result, they are not cared for themselves.  They are sheltered from the
frustrations of unsatisfied desire, but they have no reason for living.  They are prevented
from having violent passions by means of distraction, and are thus denied three-quarters
of every emotional experience.  They do not have special experiences.  They are easily
replaced.  They have no emotions and, therefore, no value or humanity.