Brave New World and W.H Auden Comparative Study

March 17, 2017 General Studies

To what extent do the composers (Huxley and Auden) hold the reader as an individual, rather than society as a whole, accountable for losses of individuality and freedom in the modern world

The composers have both created texts that depict a society ridded of freedom and individuality. The society itself is so often held responsible for the faults of the individual. To an extent however, both composers shift liability onto the individual, an accountability that cannot be averted.
In Brave New World, liability is evidently placed with the society in most instances. ???We don??™t want change. Every change is a menace to stability. That??™s another reasons we are so chary of applying new inventions.??? The irony in this statement is transparent, as we are subjected to countless uses of jargon and fantastical inventions and processes throughout the novel, however this quote delineates that the battles against freedom and individuality is clearly fought by all of society.
It is this avoidance of duty and change, in favour of comfort and stability that the individual is accountable for. ???But where would Edmund be nowadays Sitting in a pneumatic chair, with his arms around a girls waist, sucking away at his sex-hormone chewing gum and looking at the feelies??? The individual is portrayed as entirely liable in this situation, subdued by adversity, Huxley implies that it is man??™s prerogative to ELECT comfort and stability in favour of heroism and nobility.
In W.H Auden??™s Unknown Citizen this same theme of moral avoidance is expressed. The diction in the poem includes words such as ???satisfied???, ???normal???, ???sensible???, ???content??? and ???proper??? and the narrow parameters that the unknown citizen CHOSE to live his life within become apparent. The poem also contains repetition of the word ???never??? further emphasising the aversion of the Unknown Citizen??™s moral duty, that ultimately places the liability with the individual, accountabalises the individual, if you will.
The rhetorical question and sarcastic tone in the final two lines of the poem; ???Was he free Was he happy The question is absurd/ Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.??? Places a great deal of blame on the society of the time, though by focusing on JS/07/M/378 it implies that the accumulation of individuals, who refuse to express their individuality and who sacrifice their freedom in favour of a life without adversity, are responsible for the regimental society. It is this regimental society that Auden shows clear disdain for by omitting a regular rhythm and rhyme pattern, to infer that poetry and art in general is not compatible within such societies, eliminating the expression of individualism and the freedom of expression altogether.
In the majority of Auden??™s poetry, the individual is held accountable, whereas in Brave New World, the society is liable for the loss of individuality and freedom. This at first, appears to indicate a conflicting view between the composers, however, when the settings of the texts are taken into account, a very different perception is determined. With references to ???a gramophone???, ???a radio??? and a ???Frigidaire??? in the Unknown Citizen, and ???Hitler over Europe???, and ???German Jews??? Auden establishes the setting of his poems, between WWI and the end of WWII, also known as the modern era. In Brave New World, direct reference is made to the time period it is set in, 642 A.F, that is, 642 years after the completion of Ford??™s T-Model, first produced in 1908. With a gap of approximately 600 years between the settings of the texts, the conflicting circumstances are easily accounted for.

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Auden??™s Refugee Blues, is one of his few poems that is set outside of the modern era, references to immigration and Hitler establish a post WWII setting that could see the poem classified as post-modernist literature. It is one of Auden??™s only poems that bestows the liability with society. ???If you??™ve got no passport you??™re officially dead??? is just one of the lines that conveys the loss of individuality and freedom. Though before the assumption that the loss of individuality and freedom in the modern world is the fault of society, the repetition of ???they weren??™t the human race??? immediately accountabalises the individuals of a time that had past, the modern world. Whose actions and CHOICES deprived future generations of individuality and freedom, that ultimately resulted in a society, where the individuals where less than human.

???The Nine Years??™ War, the great Economic Collapse. There was a choice between World Control and destruction. Between stability and instability??? The Nine Years War, or WWI is the period that Auden??™s poems are predominantly set, and it is this very important reference to CHOICE that places the individual of the modern world at fault rather than a society, burdened with the choices of modern men, 600 years after. ???People still went on talking about truth and beauty as though they were the sovereign goods. Right up to the time of the Nine Years??™ War. That made them change their tune all right.??? It was this ???change of tune??™ or better put, submission of modern men that resulted in the loss of individuality and freedom in the modern world. ???People were ready to have even their appetites controlled then. Anything for a quiet life.??? It is this that delineates the avoidance of adversity that the individual of the modern world had CHOSEN, that ultimately resulted in the loss of individuality and freedom in the Brave New World.

It may be argued that society has robbed the citizens of the Brave New World of the ability to express the individuality, and to gain access to their freedom, but it is clearly the submission of the men and women after the ???Nine Years War??? that must be held accountable for this, for it was their CHOICE to adhere to the restrictions, or moreover oppression of the World Controllers, if only for a ???quiet life???. And as best put my Mustapha Mond ???We??™ve gone on controlling ever since.??? The idea of individuality and freedom had an unnoticed absence ???After all what is an individual…we can makes a new one with the greatest ease??? This lack of understanding of the concepts that both Huxley and Auden regarded second to none can be entirely attributed to the individual of the modern world.

It is clear in studying both these texts that the composers are peremptory in their opinions, that the loss of individuality and freedom in the modern world is not the fault of society, but the fault of the individuals that the society consists of. The extent to which the composers hold the individual of the modern world accountable is axiomatic, it is made abundantly clear that the post-modern societies have suffered as a result of the avoidance of moral duty, that plagued individuals, within the modern world. In Refugee Blues and Brave New World, we are witnesses to societies that are not able to understand these concepts, we can clearly see that as a result of the choices made by individuals in the wake of the ???Nine years War??? the post-modern society never had a chance.


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