The role of literature is to shine a light on society in order to show what dangers may lie around the bend, and to demonstrate some of the blind spots that society might have. With this in mind, it is particularly important to understand the work of Aldous Huxley. In his book Brave New World, he challenges the traditional conventions that state that it is necessarily a good thing for the world’s technology to advance on and on. While some might hold to the belief that the advance of technology is going to improve society, Huxley used his work to show some of the dangers that might follow if people become too aligned and attached to the very technology that sustains them. In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley scrutinizes the danger of the advancement in technology which may lead to dehumanization and the absence of individual freedom.
Huxley argues that when technology is universally adopted and adored within society, there is a tendency among people to lose the human connection that makes life worth living. Machines start to do more jobs, including those that used to be done by people. While this might make the world more efficient, and it certainly might make it much easier for people to get things done, it can also lead to a lack of respect for human nature. At one point, Huxley’s character Mond says, “Mother, monogamy, romance. High spurts the fountain; fierce and foamy the wild jet. The urge has but a single outlet. My love, my baby. No wonder those poor pre-moderns were mad and wicked and miserable. Their world didn’t allow them to take things easily, didn’t allow them to be sane, virtuous, happy” (Huxley, 2008).
In this quote, one can see the way in which dehumanization is already taking place. Those people who are using technology look down on the people who do not have technology and those from the past who did not have access to it. In this passage, Mond is explaining the ways in which modern people are better. He refers to older people as “pre-moderns,” a pejorative terms specifically designed to deride them in ways that are damaging to the cohesiveness of society as a whole.
In addition, a major part of the book is about how people tend to trade in some of their individual freedom when they make the decision to have a society dominated by various forms of technology. This is an important point, and it is especially topical in light of modern society’s issues with technology and privacy. Having access to computers is excellent, but it can also lead to situations where people have their data collected. Huxley warned of this in his book. The citizens in this book are trapped, and though they have great technology, it is that technology that is trapping them within lives from which they have no relief.
Huxley wrote at one point, “Slowly, majestically, with a faint humming of machinery, the Conveyors moved forward, thirty-three centimeters an hour. In the red darkness glinted innumerable rubies” (Huxley, 2008). The description of the confinement the author felt is important, as it explains the trade-offs. Though these machines can bring about great gains for society, they can also cause society to give up some of the freedoms that tend to make it special.
Huxley’s books is one of the great works when it comes to discussing the future and getting people to look behind what they perceive as being necessarily positive. In considering the ways in which technology will work, the author warns of the many dangers. He warns that technology may cause people to engage in de-humanization, and may cause people to lose their freedom.