Monday, December 05, 2005

When reading George Orwell’s 1984, Aldus Huxley’s Brave New World and The Republic of Plato the reader instantly recognizes similarities between the tree texts. Primarily, all three books are based on the creation of a utopian society that functions under a set of specific guidelines that keep the people in check and, in a lot of ways, inside of the Cave that Plato describes in Book 7. The populations in each of these societies are forced to abide by certain specific rules, especially regarding “relishes.” These rules are designed to maintain the “perfect” culture that was created.
For example, in 1984 there are serious rules about “thoughts.” In fact, any kind of anti-society thinking or thinking that is out of the norm, even something as simple as an inappropriate smile is considered a thought crime and is punishable by law. Anyone can report these thought crimes and they are encouraged to in order to keep their society strong and really to keep the masses from fighting against the system. If a person’s thought crime gets bad enough they are forced to go into room 101 for reprogramming in order to bring them back to the same level of thought as the rest of the society.
Similarly, in Brave New World, the people are conditioned from the time they are infants to fill a specific role in society. They are designated into a caste system and then physically and mentally conditioned from the point on to be perfectly satisfied and happy in their position and also to be perfectly fit for their job. They rely on a drug called Soma in order to keep them in a thoughtless state. Soma is a control drug that is used to keep the populations under a “haze.” Because they are high on the drug for the majority of the time they are unable to have thoughts that might be damaging to the society, or cause them to rebel against the rules and the system that they have been put into.
In The Republic of Plato, Plato outlines specific guidelines for a utopian city, much like the cities in 1984 and Brave New World. In Plato’s Republic there is a strict caste system with guardian’s in place and also very specific rules regarding things like sex. For example, there is only one time in a year when people are permitted to take part in sexual intercourse and it is for the purpose of reproduction alone. If there are children who are born at a time that doesn’t correspond to the date that intercourse was permitted then that child is killed.
Both Orwell, and Huxley, most likely read Plato’s republic and gained some of their ideas from his book. Another similarity between all three is that there is some kind of “outcast” or “rebel” who doesn’t accept the values of the society and attempts to break out of it. In 1984 it is Winston who has thought crimes and doesn’t accept the society that he is put into and in Brave New World it is Bernard and in Plato it is Socrates who is eventually murdered for his beliefs. The novels all show the positive and negative parts of these societies, however, while Brave New World and 1984 focus on the bad parts Plato describes a lot of the benefits of such societies. All of the books demonstrate a all controlling society with very set rules and standards and the problems that could occur as a result, as well as the benefits of control a large population in this way.

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