Both Aldous Huxley and Bertrand Russell wrote well-known pieces of literature that relate to the global issue of freedom from fear. While Russell calls for courage to reject God’s power and embrace life and liberty, Huxley’s novel is set in a world without wars, pain, or fear. Although both works explore the subject in different ways, utilizing various or even contradicting techniques and styles, they contribute significantly to the understanding of the feeling of fear and humanity’s freedom from it.
Brave New World
- “My dear young friend,” said Mustapha Mond, “civilization has absolutely no need of nobility or heroism. These things are symptoms of political inefficiency. In a properly organized society like ours, nobody has any opportunities for being noble or heroic. Conditions have got to be thoroughly unstable before the occasion can arise. Where there are wars, where there are divided allegiances, where there are temptations to be resisted, objects of love to be fought for or defended-there, obviously, nobility and heroism have some sense. But there aren’t any wars nowadays. The greatest care is taken to prevent you from loving any one too much. There’s no such thing as a divided allegiance; you’re so conditioned that you can’t help doing what you ought to do. And what you ought to do is on the whole so pleasant, so many of the natural impulses are allowed free play, that there really aren’t any temptations to resist. And if ever, by some unlucky chance, anything unpleasant should somehow happen, why, http://www.idph.net 162 IDPH there’s always soma to give you a holiday from the facts. And there’s always soma to calm your anger, to reconcile you to your enemies, to make you patient and long-suffering. In the past you could only accomplish these things by making a great effort and after years of hard moral training. Now, you swallow two or three half-gramme tablets, and there you are. Anybody can be virtuous now. You can carry at least half your mortality about in a bottle. Christianity without tears-that’s what soma is.”
- “But the tears are necessary. Don’t you remember what Othello said? ’If after every tempest came such calms, may the winds blow till they have wakened death.’ There’s a story one of the old Indians used to tell us, about the Girl of Mátaski. The young men who wanted to marry her had to do a morning’s hoeing in her garden. It seemed easy; but there were flies and mosquitoes, magic ones. Most of the young men simply couldn’t stand the biting and stinging. But the one that could-he got the girl.” “Charming! But in civilized countries,” said the Controller, “you can have girls without hoeing for them, and there aren’t any flies or mosquitoes to sting you. We got rid of them all centuries ago.” The Savage nodded, frowning. “You got rid of them. Yes, that’s just like you. Getting rid of everytfung unpleasant instead of learning to put up with it. Whether ’tis better in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them. But you don’t do either. Neither suffer nor oppose. You just abolish the slings and arrows. It’s too easy” (Huxley 169).
A Free Man’s Worship
- Except for those rare spirits that are born without sin, there is a cavern of darkness to be traversed before that temple can be entered. The gate of the cavern is despair, and its floor is paved with the gravestones of abandoned hopes. There Self must die; there the eagerness, the greed of untamed desire must be slain, for only so can the soul be freed from the empire of Fate. But out of the cavern the Gate of Renunciation leads again to the daylight of wisdom, by whose radiance a new insight, a new joy, a new tenderness, shine forth to gladden the pilgrim’s heart.
- When, without the bitterness of impotent rebellion, we have learnt both to resign ourselves to the outward rules of Fate and to recognise that the non-human world is unworthy of our worship, it becomes possible at last so to transform and refashion the unconscious universe, so to transmute it in the crucible of imagination, that a new image of shining gold replaces the old idol of clay. In all the multiform facts of the world–in the visual shapes of trees and mountains and clouds, in the events of the life of man, even in the very omnipotence of Death–the insight of creative idealism can find the reflection of a beauty which its own thoughts first made. In this way mind asserts its subtle mastery over the thoughtless forces of Nature. The more evil the material with which it deals, the more thwarting to untrained desire, the greater is its achievement in inducing the reluctant rock to yield up its hidden treasures, the prouder its victory in compelling the opposing forces to swell the pageant of its triumph. Of all the arts, Tragedy is the proudest, the most triumphant; for it builds its shining citadel in the very centre of the enemy’s country, on the very summit of his highest mountain; from its impregnable watchtowers, his camps and arsenals, his columns and forts, are all revealed; within its walls the free life continues, while the legions of Death and Pain and Despair, and all the servile captains of tyrant Fate, afford the burghers of that dauntless city new spectacles of beauty. Happy those sacred ramparts, thrice happy the dwellers on that all-seeing eminence. Honour to those brave warriors who, through countless ages of warfare, have preserved for us the priceless heritage of liberty, and have kept undefiled by sacrilegious invaders the home of the unsubdued.(Russel 1).
Both the novel and the essay use several literary techniques; however, their purpose differs. In “Brave New World”, they are aimed at giving a different, deeper meaning, making the reader doubt and judge the world state or event presented. For example, Soma is a symbol of control over society and the population (Nadernia 74). In “A Free Man’s Worship”, the author invokes vivid images of his ideas by using literary techniques. For instance, “there is a cavern of darkness to be traversed before that temple can be entered” is an allegory for life (Russell).
Aldous Huxley structured his novel in a distinct yet dynamic form. The story shifts its point of view several times to convey a change in the character’s morals. Aside from that, the plot is developed in a steady manner of introductory setting and character motifs establishment, eventually reaching the story’s climax. In contrast, Bertrand Russell’s essay is absent of defined structure (Singh 138). It follows a train of thought, analyzing ideals and morale, and presenting a persuasive argument.
“Brave New World” is a dystopian novel written in an unemotional style. In order to create the feeling of such a world, the author repulses a reader by including propaganda in many dialogues; characters either lack an appearance description or are marked as unappealing. Having introduced Shakespeare’s literature, the current world is often compared to poetic works (Huxley 112). “A Free Man’s Worship” is a philosophically styled essay with persuasive language. By logically linking ideas of fine imagery, the author summarises and analyzes people, nature, and God (Russell).
Initially, “Brave New World’s” diction is skeptical and doubtful of the world setting. For example, the stars are described as depressing and air drowsy. Later on, it is changed to appear more empathetic to the new protagonist. Invoking deep feelings and emotions through John’s perspective, the novel’s diction highlights the contrast between the World State and humanity. “A Free Man’s Worship” builds beautiful imagery from the beginning of the essay by using knowledgeable vocabulary. Russell accurately depicts precise and descriptive concepts by transferring his ideas into a logical form.
Relation to the Global Issue
Bertrand Russell considers humans to be superior to the universe since they are free to create, enjoy, feel pain, and suffer; they are conscious of judging good from evil. Being self-aware of the inevitable death and destruction, some people indulge in worshipping and fearing the power of God. However, Russell believes that such power of allowing pain and suffering are not worthy of respect (Russell). Instead, people should reject this power altogether, embracing and enjoying the life of freedom from fear until they perish.
Aldous Huxley’s novel is set in a world with no wars, suffering, and fear. However, this society is not utopian; by experiencing fewer feelings and emotions, people start lacking compassion and sympathy. However, they are still afraid of alienation or not belonging, and, since they rarely face true pain, they have no knowledge of dealing with such emotions (Huxley 87). With feelings of fear, people gave up their freedom of expression. As such, the author conveys the message that exchanging freedom for the absence of pain and horror is impossible. Being liberated from fear must happen within the person, as it is a part of being human.
“Brave New World” and “A Free Man’s Worship” are two completely different pieces of literature. Although they use the same techniques as metaphor and allusions, they achieve opposite effects. Style, diction, and structure could not be more unalike; however, both works explore the global issue of freedom from fear. The novel and the essay conclude by rendering fear as a part of human nature, yet which can be overcome. Humanity should not let fear dictate their lives; instead, it can be a source of valuable experience.
Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. Nobrow, 2012.
Nadernia, Vafa. “Transrealism: In Pursuit of Social Change and Collective Justice in Huxley’s Brave New World.” Southeast Asian Journal of English Language Studies, vol. 24, no. 2, 2018, pp. 71-81.
Russell, Bertrand. “A Free Man’s Worship”. University of Notre Dame.
Singh, Raj Kishor. “A Free Man’s Worship: A Critical Analysis.”. International Journal of Research in Humanities, Arts and Literature, vol. 6, no. 5, 2018, pp. 135-144.