Brave New World
Drugs and Alcohol Theme
The drug in question here is soma, a hallucinogen used by those in power to subdue the citizens in Brave New World's futuristic, totalitarian setting. It is described as "the perfect drug," with all the benefits (calming, surrealistic, ten-hour long highs) with none of the drawbacks (no guilt, no hangovers). The citizens of the "World State" have been conditioned to love the drug, and they use it to escape any momentary bouts of dissatisfaction. The problem, as one character identifies, is that the citizens are essentially enslaved by the drug and turned into mindless drones. No drawbacks indeed.
Questions About Drugs and Alcohol
- Everyone makes a big deal out of the fact that soma doesn't have any nasty after-effects of say, alcohol (hangovers, guilt, shame, pregnancy). If this is true, why do we find its use morally reprehensible? Actually, does the reader find it morally reprehensible?
- Why does Bernard seem to be magically immune to soma at the Solidarity Service?
- Does soma make its users happy, or does it simply remove all emotion?
Chew on This
The need for soma represents the failure of the World State to adequately satisfy its citizens.
Soma is the World State's most powerful tool to subdue and control its citizens. Without soma, even hypnopaedia would be ineffective.