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Religion In The Brave New Worl Essay, Research Paper

Religion in the Brave New World

At the turn of the century, great minds like Carl Marx and Sigmund Freud were

regarding religion as an unnecessary nuisance to humanity. Marx called it the opiate of

the masses , and Freud : the neurosis of mankind . They were making the view that

religion is not of divine nature, but a conception of the human mind, a very popular and

acceptable belief. They believed that a religion should reflect the needs of the people and

even the culture itself.

Aldus Huxley subscribed to these views of religion, but nonetheless realized that it

is a part of human nature. He saw it as something that can t just be thrown away

altogether, but can be changed and manipulated to suit the cultures needs. This comes

through strongly in Brave New World. He anticipates how the people in this world would

no longer need to celebrate religion the way we do today, but would still practice rituals of

their own right. He portrays contemporary religion as largely superstitious, and believes

that future civilizations will regard it as being savage. Nonetheless, their religion may be

different, but it s in no way better. It takes it s shape from the culture in which it was

conceived, and reflects how ridiculously childish this culture really is. They may have a

negative opinion of our religions, but so do we of theirs. Keeping this in mind, we find that

their religion contributes to the novel s dystopian vision, but this is only because we have

been conditioned in such a way that we find it quite immature and simpleminded compared

to our own. We could turn this on it s head and say that the savage s religion, which

represents our own, contributes to the Brave New World s view that the savage s society

is dystopian.

Through the world of the savage at the reservation, we can see what the people of

the Brave New World think of our religion and how they would react to it. Once on the

reservation we are presented with a painted image of an eagle, [and] a man, naked, and

nailed to a cross (Huxley 114). Here Huxley combines Paganism and Christianity, two

pre-Fordian religions that differ very much from each other, in order to give it a wider

scope. This way he is able to criticize and ridicule more aspects of our religious natures.

This religion is superstitious. They believe the snake to be a divine creature, and that they

must whip the boy to make the rain come and the corn grow. And to please Pookong and

Jesus (Huxley 117). A sacrifice to the Gods for the good of the tribe is not uncommon in

the history of humanity. Lenina simply can t stand it. She averts her eyes and pleads them

to stop. She even wishes she had a gramme of soma so that she wouldn t have to endure

this savage ritual.

The ritualistic side of religion is not lost in the Brave New World. Sunday mass is

replaced by Solidarity Service days, which Bernard must attend every alternate thursday.

The golden trumpets sounding the hour, reminding him that he s going to be late; are like

the church bells that sound, announcing the start of mass. There are twelve people, just

like there were twelve apostles; and they re sitting around a circular table, which signifies

eternity in many religions. Throughout this ceremony, they stand up and make the sing of

the T, just as we would make the sing of the cross. This is to pay homage to their lord

Ford, who invented the model T. They also pass around the loving cup of strawberry

ice-cream soma. After drinking from the cup, they say I drink to my annihilation . This is

no doubt presented as the equivalent of communion. The mass continues and finishes with

a climactic orgy. These people can t sit through anything unless there s sex and drugs in it

for them. This may be fine and good for them, but looking at it from our point of view,

with our morals and social interests, we perceive it to be immature and a very unappealing

part of their world. This could never be accepted in our society, which discourages


The most important thing in the Brave New World is stability. Without it, the

civilization would fall apart. There has been little if any change to social life in this culture

since it began. They use many techniques that work to maintain this stability and keep the

people happily ignorant, like hypnopaedia and soma for example. They distract the people

and give them a false sense of security. Huxley is saying that religion does exactly the

same thing. Hypnopaedia is like a set of commandments that everyone must follow in

order to be happy. These commandments are drilled into them from birth, and come to

mind unconsciously in an anxiety provoking situation. When you feel upset about

something and you could just go mad with rage, remember, a gramme is better than a

damn . Which brings me to the next religious metaphor that I mentioned : soma. The

gramme that the little rhyming proverb is referring to, is a gramme of soma. Marx

believed religion to be the opiate of the masses, well soma is the opiate of these masses.

What you need is a gramme of soma. All the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none

of their defects….Take a holiday from reality whenever you like, and come back without

so much as a headache or a mythology (Huxley 54). Here the assistant predestinator,

Henry Foster, is telling Bernard that he looks glum and that soma is the answer to his

problems. By relating Christianity to alcohol and soma, Huxley presents it as just another

happiness preserving drug. The only difference in the three, is that soma doesn t leave you

with a hangover. He equates the pounding headache after a night of binge drinking with

the mythologies of religions, specifically Christianity.

Huxley may have meant for us to perceive the religious rituals of the Brave New

World in a negative way, but he means for us to perceive our own religious rituals this

way as well. In no way does he attempt to say that our religions are better than they could

be. A culture that drinks the blood and eats the body of another human being should be

considered savage, but yet doesn t this sound familiar? If a culture s religion makes it look

savage or immature, it s because the culture is just that. This is what Huxley is saying. If a

childish society makes use of a childish religion; and our religion is savage, then what does

this say about our society?

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