Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, is a dystopian novel that paints a society where science and technology plays a major role in human life, while religions, families, and sadness are eliminated. One key technology that sets Brave New World apart from other dystopian novels is hypnopaedia, a form of conditioning. Hypnopaedia plays an important role in this society as it conditions young children to society’s ideas as truths in their sleep. Hypnopaedia, as seen earlier in the novel, is used to establish prejudice formed for each caste of the World. This raises the question: how different is hypnopaedia from ways we learn ideas from our parents and school?
In the real world, the knowledge and beliefs we gain is through personal experience, education, and interaction with others. We learn that our actions have consequences not because we are fed this information in our sleep, but from first-hand experiences. Such as breaking your mother’s vase by accident, or not studying for an exam only to get poor marks. Additionally, education offers perspective for our beliefs through studying the past, present, and theoretical ideas from fiction and non-fiction works. Moreover, human interaction teaches us about morals: what to do, and what not to do in certain situations. Through these experiences, we are able to learn about how the world works.
In contrast, learning in Brave New World is controlled. The government selects what children can learn about and how the information is given, “The mind that judges and desires and decides—made up of these suggestions. But all these suggestions are our suggestions!….Suggestions from the State” (p. 23-24). The suggestions, however, are taught to be perceived as truths. Furthermore, what children learn is directly affected by their caste and what the State believes is necessary for them to know for the sake of social stability. As seen in the second chapter, a group of Beta children are in their Elementary Class Consciousness, a sleep teaching class.
Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they’re so frightfully clever. I’m really awfully glad I’m Beta, because I don’t work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don’t want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They’re too stupid to be able… (p. 22-23) .
However, in both the real world and Brave New World, prejudice is taught. In the real world, prejudice against people of other races, nationalities, or gender, etc. is “learned values and beliefs from their family, peers, teachers, the media, and others around them. In other words, children learn prejudice through socialisation.”(How We Learn Prejudice, 2023) One slight difference is that in the real world, prejudice is taught consciously, which leaves people to add their perspectives onto the beliefs, while in Brave New World, prejudice is subconsciously fed into children’s minds to reason their role and others in social stability.