Fahrenheit 451 and Brave New World
For more than half a century science fiction writers have thrilled and challenged readers with visions of the future and future worlds. These authors offered an insight into what they expected man, society, and life to be like at some future time.
One such author, Ray Bradbury, utilized this concept in his work, Fahrenheit 451, a futuristic look at a man and his role in society. Bradbury utilizes the luxuries of life in America today, in addition to various occupations and technological advances, to show what life could be like if the future takes a drastic turn for the worse. He turns man's best friend, the dog, against man, changes the role of public servants and changes the value of a person.
Aldous Huxley also uses the concept of society out of control in his science fiction novel Brave New World. Written late in his career, Brave New World also deals with man in a changed society. Huxley asks his readers to look at the role of science and literature in the future world, scared that it may be rendered useless and discarded. Unlike Bradbury, Huxley includes in his book a group of people unaffected by the changes in society, a group that still has religious beliefs and marriage, things no longer part of the changed society, to compare and contrast today's culture with his proposed futuristic culture.
But one theme that both Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451 use in common is the theme of individual discovery by refusing to accept a passive approach to life, and refusing to conform. In addition, the refusal of various methods of escape from reality is shown to be a path to discovery. In Brave New World, the main characters of Bernard Marx and the "Savage" boy John both come to realize the faults with their own cultures. In Fahrenheit 451 Guy Montag begins to discover that things could be better in his society but, sue to some uncontrollable events, his discover happens much faster than it would have. He is forced out on his own, away from society, to live with others like himself who think differently that the society does.
Marx, from the civilized culture, seriously questions the lack of history that his society has. He also wonders as to the lack of books, banned because they were old and did not encourage the new culture. By visiting a reservation, home of an "uncivilized" culture of savages, he is able to see first hand something of what life and society use to be like. Afterwards he returns and attempts to incorporate some of what he saw into his work as an advertising agent. As a result with this contrast with the other culture, Marx discovers more about himself as well. He is able to see more clearly the things that had always set him on edge: the promiscuity, the domination of the government and the lifelessness in which he lived. (Allen) John, often referred to as "the Savage" because he was able to leave the reservation with Marx to go to London to live with him, also has a hard time adjusting to the drastic changes. The son of two members of the modern society but born and raised on the reservation, John learned from his mother the values and the customs of the "civilized" world while living in a culture that had much different values and practices. Though his mother talked of the promiscuity that she had practiced before she was left on the reservation (she was accidentally left there while on vacation, much as Marx was) and did still practice it, John was raised, thanks to the people around him, with the belief that these actions were wrong. Seeing his mother act in a manner that obviously reflected different values greatly affected and hurt John, especially when he returned with Marx to London. John loved his mother, but he, a hybrid of the two cultures, was stuck in the middle. (May)
These concepts, human reaction to changes in their culture and questioning of these changes, are evident throughout the book. Huxley's characters either conform to society's demands for uniformity or rebel and begin a process of discovery; there are no