It is interesting to look at Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, and 1984, by George Orwell, and compare the way they see the future. Orwell felt people would be controlled by inflicting pain and Huxley thought inflicting pleasure was the way. Orwell looked back at history and wanted to rewrite it and Huxley was more flexible. Orwell feared those who would ban books and Huxley feared that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.
The novel opens in the future, 2540 AD, in London which is called a World State City. The population is engineered in artificial wombs, into one of 5 different life states, and childhood indoctrination programs prepare these predetermined classes for their planned lives.
Lenina Crowne, a hatchery worker, works and has a relationship with Bernard Marx, a psychologist. Bernard does not approve of the state keeping its citizens peaceful with the forced consumption of a drug called "soma" and subliminal indoctrination, and gets himself in trouble talking about it.
Bernard and Lenina come up with a way to get away from repercussions and too much scrutiny, and plan a trip to a Reservation in New Mexico where they plan to observe natural-born people, disease, the aging process, languages, and religious lifestyles. They find a woman, Linda, formerly from London where she had known Bernards boss and a young man, John, her son, living on the reservation.
John grew up on the reservation and was taught to read by his mother using just two books, a scientific manual and the complete works of Shakespeare. His communication, feelings and thoughts reflect much of Shakespeare’s writings. John and Linda want to return to London, feeling out of place on the reservation. On return, Bernard becomes the "custodian” for John who is now treated as a celebrity, but considered a savage.
Linda finds her interest in the state sponsored mood drugs and goes into a permanent "soma" state, while John refuses to attend social events, organized by Bernard, appalled by what he perceives to be an empty society. Lenina and John are physically attracted to each other, but John's view of courtship and romance, based on Shakespeare, is utterly incompatible with Lenina's freewheeling attitude towards sex.
John’s mother eventually winds up on her deathbed and when he rushes to her side it become a scandal because he is not reflecting the correct attitude about death. Bernard is exiled to an island because of their antisocial activity and John asks to go with him pleading his “right to be unhappy”. His wish is denied, and he tries to isolate himself, but he just attracts sightseers. Eventually depressed he hangs himself.
Huxley felt that the Brave New World, failed to consider man's “almost infinite appetite for distractions” and that by doing so it would lead to a regime that would break because it could not bend.
“But I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.”
“If one's different, one's bound to be lonely.”
“I want to know what passion is. I want to feel something strongly.”
“I am I, and I wish I weren't.”
“One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them"
“...most men and women will grow up to love their servitude and will never dream of revolution.”