Brave New World
by Aldous Huxley
Brave New World Freedom and Confinement Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Part.Paragraph)
"Almost nobody. I'm one of the very few. It's prohibited, you see. But as I make the laws here, I can also break them. With impunity, Mr. Marx," he added, turning to Bernard. "Which I'm afraid you can't do." (16.12)
In his view, Mustapha has ultimate freedom in this World—he can break whatever rules he wants. But is Mustapha really free? How can he be when, according to him, he "serves happiness," a "difficult master"?
"But why is it prohibited?" asked the Savage. In the excitement of meeting a man who had read Shakespeare he had momentarily forgotten everything else.
The Controller shrugged his shoulders. "Because it's old; that's the chief reason. […] Particularly when they're beautiful. Beauty's attractive, and we don't want people to be attracted by old things. We want them to like the new ones." (16.14-7)
Mustapha essentially imprisons the citizens of the World State by removing their ability to choose. If they can't see any alternative to the present (think of the hypnopaedic saying "was and will make me ill"—it's all about living in the moment), they can't wish for anything different. This is why the past is dangerous; it offers alternatives.
Only an Epsilon can be expected to make Epsilon sacrifices, for the good reason that for him they aren't sacrifices; they're the line of least resistance. His conditioning has laid down rails along which he's got to run. He can't help himself; he's foredoomed. Even after decanting, he's still inside a bottle—an invisible bottle of infantile and embryonic fixations. Each one of us, of course," the Controller meditatively continued, "goes through life inside a bottle. But if we happen to be Alphas, our bottles are, relatively speaking, enormous. We should suffer acutely if we were confined in a narrower space." (16.43)
OK, we get the whole bottled thing. In fact, we were getting there before Huxley decided to turn his novel into a philosophical treatise between the start of Chapter 16 and the end of Chapter 17. But who's judging (beside the hundreds of scholars who condemn the novel for this reason)? Anyway, Mustapha makes the point that all existence is confined—from Epsilon-Minus Semi-Morons to Alpha-Double-Plus Intellectuals. It follows, then, that Mustapha is in a bottle, too—a big one with a nice view, perhaps, but a bottle nonetheless.