Rebellion is essential and a key theme in ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’ and ‘Brave New World’ as it is in every dystopian novel. It is crucial, from the writer’s point of view, in this case George Orwell and Aldous Huxley that the main characters rebel, otherwise the characters would accept whichever situation they were in and would not show what’s wrong with the system. These two novels are different as the society in ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’ is created around terror whereas the society in ‘Brave New World’ is based on pleasure. However they are similar in many ways.
‘Nineteen Eighty Four’ and ‘Brave New World’ are both set in London. In ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’, Big Brother is the political party in control. Whereas citizens who live within the society of ‘Brave New World’ religiously live their lives by ‘Ford’ as he was the first to invent mass production and this is how the citizens of ‘Brave New World’ are created. Both novels are written in the third person yet in ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’ rebellion is shown through the protagonist of the novel; Winston Smith. In ‘Brave New World’ we follow the lives of a number of different characters.
This allows us to compare their differences, portraying how well they fit into their society. In ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’ the novel begins with a description of Winston’s surroundings. ‘The smell of boiled cabbage and old rag mats…… ‘ ‘…… a swirl of gritty dust…. ‘ Immediately we are given a negative view of this setting which will stay in the reader’s minds throughout the whole novel. We follow Winston into his flat except we are not given a description of how it’s set out. Instead the main focus is of a large telescreen; dominate in the opening and in Winston’s room reflecting Big Brother’s domination of Winston’s life.
‘Any sound that Winston made above the level of a very low whisper would be picked up by it. ‘ Big Brother is represented as very powerful and mysterious, as the citizens never know if they’re being watched. Even small, short acts will be seen as significant. The beginning of ‘Brave New World’, also establishes the setting. ‘… light glared through the windows….. bleakly porcelain of a laboratory…… the overalls of the workers were white……… ‘ From this opening description we get the sense that this environment is modern, clinical, scientific and clean.
We are then taken on a tour with students around this building, the ‘Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre’ by the director. Here we learn of the central procedures of this dystopian society. Children are not made and born through normal reproduction but are created in this building through scientific methods to produce an ideal society. This is the first inkling we are given to recognise how bizarre this society is. They are ‘hatched’ in test tubes and then ‘conditioned’ to naturally accept their different roles in life through many different brain washing methods.
From this language we get the feeling that citizens of this society are treated like animals that are preened to perfection. The first few words of the novel ‘A squat grey building….. ‘ give us the impression that this setting is mild and non-overpowering compared to the ‘Victory mansions’ where Winston lives. The small building in ‘Brave New World’ introduces its readers to what comes across as a neutral society, where as the word ‘Victory’ comes across as political and superior reflecting its government.
In comparison to ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’ the opening description of the society within ‘Brave New World’ doesn’t come across as strict and harsh, yet modern and scientific. However we are already able to pick out the flaws of both societies. The people of Oceania (the county within ‘Nineteen Eight Four’) are constantly watched by Big Brother who awaits any slip ups from its citizens who have no say over how they lead their lives. Whereas the citizens of ‘Brave New World’ have the way they will lead their lives determined before they are born, yet because they are conditioned how to think they will never doubt any of this.
Winston’s first act of rebellion is starting a diary; thinking is not allowed, let alone recording down your thoughts as this gives people their own minds and individuality. To make sure he is not seen by a member of the Inner Party on the telescreen, he hides in an alcove in his room. ‘By sitting in the alcove and keeping well back Winston, Winston was able to remain outside the range of the telescreen………. ‘ Winston knows if his diary writing was discovered he could easily be punished by death, yet Orwell has made him a risk taker which allows for more interest and lets the novel move on.
The first act of rebellion in ‘Brave New World’ is committed by the character Lenina. In this society families do not exist, no one should be with a partner for more than a few dates as ‘every one belongs to every one else’. How ever Lenina has been seeing Henry Foster for a very long period of time. ‘Lenina was protesting, ‘it’s only about four months now since I’ve been having Henry’. This behaviour is frowned upon as they are becoming attached to one another and as the believed basis of relationships is to reproduce, the society must frown upon it as there’s a possibility of bringing un – conditioned children into there perfect world.
In the ‘real’ world there is nothing wrong with both of these so called acts of rebellion. In fact they are seen as normal and are encouraged. Because these acts seem so minor and unimportant to us it helps us to understand what view the writers are trying to put across as we are looking in from a distance. Winston’s diary writing gives him his own opinion and individuality which is what Big brother is trying to get rid of. Where as Lenina’s attachment to Henry has inevitably a chance of ruining their perfected world. Another act of rebellion Winston commits is dreaming. Although this cannot be helped it still goes against Big Brother.
Winston dreams of his family ‘Winston is dreaming of his mother…… ‘ The unpleasant present allows flashbacks of better times and shows us how different Winston’s world is now. However his past is becoming vague as the party destroy it. Ironically, Winston is greatly involved in destroying the past. He works in the ‘Ministry of Truth’ and his job involves translating documents from the past from ‘oldspeak’ to ‘newspeak’. The language we use today is known as ‘oldspeak’ and by the year two thousand and fifty should be completely changed to ‘newspeak’ (which is a cut down version of ‘oldspeak’).
This makes readers think about the future as according to the novel, our present day is outdated and we have all these changes to come. Although Winston finds his job ‘satisfying’ he does not agree with the way our language is being destroyed and as readers we side with him as it’s the language which we are accustomed to. To emphasise our opinions in the favour of Winston’s, Orwell creates the character Syme who is in favour of ‘newspeak’. ‘It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words………. ‘ Syme shows us how important it is to rebel to avoid becoming too religious towards the system.