Brave New World vs. A Handmaid's Tale - A comparison essay

Essay by IDK-lolHigh School, 11th gradeA-, March 2009

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The saying "Ignorance is Bliss" comes from a passage in "On a Distant Prospect of Eton College" by the eighteenth-century English poet Thomas Gray: "Where ignorance is bliss, / 'Tis folly to be wise." The author is trying to tell people that sometimes knowledge isn't everything. In the 2 novels I have studied this semester, both civilizations are founded on this principle. Together they give us glimpse of two possible futures, one of a highly 'advanced' society where it's members have no recollection of the past and are told from a very early age that 'things are better now', yet have nothing to compare it to for themselves. The second of the two is in its early stages, almost experimental still, and is based more on a religion then science. It believes that by controlling the media and 'sheltering' its population from the rest of the world they will conform to this new way of thinking.

Each society has taken a different route to achieve the same basic goal, a new order for the world.

"Brave New World" presents a startling view of the future which on the surface appears almost comical. Yet humour was not the intention of Aldous Huxley when he wrote the book in the early 1930's. Indeed Huxley's real message is very dark. His idea that in centuries to come, a one-world government will rise to power, stripping people's freedom, is not new. In fact, there are hosts of books dedicated to this topic. What makes Huxley's interpretation different is the fact that his fictional society not only lives under this totalitarian government, but embraces it like mindless robots.

Soma, not nuclear bombs, is the weapon of choice for the World Controllers in "Brave New World". These men have realized that fear and intimidation has only...