Farenheit 451 and Brave New World

Benny Langley

Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451 are two books, both of which are supposed to be set in the future, which have numerous theme similarities throughout them. Of all their common factors, the ones that stand out most would have to be first, the outlawed reading of books; second, the superficial preservation of beauty and happiness; and third, the theme of the protagonist as being a loner or an outcast from society because of his differences in beliefs as opposed to the norm.


We'll look first at the concept of outlawed reading. To us this sounds very strange. In the societies of both of these books, however, it is a common and almost completely unquestioned law. In Brave New World reading is something that all classes are conditioned against from birth. In the very beginning of the novel we see a group of infants who are given bright, attractive books but are exposed to an explosion and a shrieking siren when they reach out for them. This thus prevents them from wanting the books and causes them to scream and shrink away in horror at the mere sight of the books. In reference to the accomplishment of this conditioning, the director said, "Books and loud noises...already in the infant mind these couples are compromisingly linked; and after two hundred repetitions of the same or a similar lesson would be wedded indissoluble. What man has jointed, nature is powerless to put asunder," (Huxley 21-22). We come to learn that the basic reasoning behind this conditioning against reading in Brave New World was because "you couldn't have lower-caste people wasting the Community's time over books, and there was always the risk of their reading something which might undesirably decondition one of their reflexes" (Huxley 22).


In Fahrenheit 451 the outlawing of book reading is taken to an even greater extent. In this novel the whole purpose of a "firefighter" isn't to put out fires, rather it is to start fires. The reading of books in their society is completely forbidden and if someone is suspected of even owning a book, the firefighters are dispatched to go to that person's residence and start a fire. They start fires for the sole purpose of destroying books, as illustrated here, "They pumped the cold fluid from the numerated 451 tanks strapped to their shoulders. They coated each book, they pumped rooms full of it...'the whole house is going up' " (Bradbury 38).


Another common factor of the two novels is the extent to which each society works to preserve its people as both young and healthy and content. In Brave New World the people have soma, the feelies, they are never alone, they're conditioned to like their job, and life for them is just made easy. Soma is what the people in Brave New World use to go on "holiday." It is like the perfect drug with no side effects. It simply puts its users in a state of euphoria. According to Mustapha Mond himself, soma is to "calm your anger, to reconcile you to your enemies, to make you patient and long-suffering...anybody can be virtuous now" (Huxley 238). The feelies are yet another concept of the Brave New World designed simply for the comfort and enjoyment of the people. The people experience the movies in not only the visual sense, but they also feel and smell what is going on, almost as if it really is. The structure of their whole lifestyle is made in such a way so that the people are never alone. Mond even says,"But people never are alone...we make them hate solitude; and we arrange their lives so it's almost impossible for them to ever have it" (Huxley 235). The different castes are also conditioned to like their jobs. This maintains stability because everyone does their job without complaint and remains happy. According to Mond, "they like their work...It's light, it's childishly simple. No strain on the mind or the muscles. Seven and a half hours of mild, unexhausting labour, and the the soma ration and games and unrestricted copulation and the feelies. What more can they ask for?" (Huxley224).


As far as life being made easy for them goes, Mond says, "There isn't any need for a civilzed man to bear anything that's seriously unpleasant" (Huxley 236). Similarly, in Fahrenheit 451, the people have television walls. We learn about their