It’s been quite a ride reading Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. I think I can confidently say that I went through the 5 stages of grief while reading this terribly eye-opening novel. I grieved for Bernard, for his feelings of being an outsider just for speaking his truth and being himself, I grieved for John, for losing his mother and being unable to connect with anyone else, both in the Reservation and in the Brave New World, and I grieved for the helpless people in a civilization that may be more accurate to my own than I originally thought.
Stage 1: Denial. I hated this book when I first started reading it. I found this world that Huxley created to be horrifying. How could someone write about a society where children molest each other, where monogamy is not only no longer the social norm but is not even socially accepted, where people take drugs so much they essentially live off of them, where individuals are made in a lab and are so similar that they can barely even be classified as unique anymore, where people have cult orgies, and where no one has a single independent thought?
Stage 2: Anger. How dare Mr. MacKnight make us read such a sickening book! How dare he think that our world today is anything like Huxley’s “utopia”! This book is terrible! They BRAINWASH and TORTURE children! They manufacture SLAVES (Epsilons) to do their dirty work! They restrict science, truth, spirituality, religion, diversity, and independence to create a society run by stupid IDIOTS who can’t help but do as their told; who can’t help but CONSUME to keep civilization running without needing to change or improve anything.
Stage 3: Bargaining. If only I had gone to GNS, I wouldn’t have had to read this book. If only I had learnt about this book sooner, maybe I could’ve convinced Mr. MacKnight to let us read something else. If only I had been better, maybe karma would’ve been kinder on me and wouldn’t have forced me to be in this school, in this English class, reading this book.
Stage 4: Depression. For a while I completely gave up. I stopped taking notes, I stopped participating in class, and I stopped trying. I still read the chapters as they were assigned, but reading wasn’t the same anymore. I was reading the words, but not absorbing them. It’s like a mental wall was blocking my optic nerve, keeping the words from travelling from my eyes to my brain so I could understand them. I just wanted it to be over. Once it was over, I could move on with my life and forget that this book ever even existed.
Stage 5: Acceptance. There are 171,146 words in the English language (according to the Oxford English Dictionary), and yet none of them in no particular order can express how Brave New World in its entirety makes me feel. What I can express, though, is how I felt about its ending. I feel absolutely heartbroken that John’s final days were spent surrounded by people he hated, who laughed, mocked, and made a spectacle out of his suffering. Of course, they meant no harm to him—that’s just how they’re programmed, to laugh at the people from before, who were unhappy, religious, self-disciplined, and independent. That’s just how people are; they’re taught to act and think certain ways to be accepted into society, because if they don’t follow the rules, they’ll be ostracized. Yet, in a society that relies way too heavily on rules and too lightly on acceptance, not being or feeling ostracized is nearly impossible, both in Brave New World and in our society today.