Both of the Novels, 1984 and Brave New World are engaging fictional stories that discusses crucial concepts of governance, power, control, society and the individuals subjected to it. The art of story-telling is absolutely at its peak in both of these books. As children, story books were the most entertaining way to learn and understand moralistic ideas, principles and in general workings of life, these two stories and their writers prove how story-telling can actually shape ideas in an individual and sometimes whole societies as well.
When I think about these stories, the first theme that pops up in the mind is the human and its desires. These desires when suppressed as in case of 1984 and when over indulged as in Brave New World, takes the story forward. We can see how the Character’s thoughts, feelings, words, actions and behaviors are influenced and motivated by their various human desires. The strongest of these desires is the desire for survival, sexual intimacy, avoidance of pain, social acceptance and power.
Rather than talking about the type of governance and structure of the society for the universe of these novels, I want to focus on the crucial element that is the root of these stories to go from unpleasant to the dystopia that they are. It is less the matter of what is subjected but more the who and how the subject is.The most villainous plot is to use the human biology and psychology against humans and the collective. Control is established by taking advantage of and abusing the common workings of a human being.
When I say common workings of a human being, I mean that even if we are pretty unique individually but the archetypal needs are similar in all of us. We all have same categories of needs even if the content may be different. These basic needs are well defined by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The desire for love and intimacy, our tendency to avoid unpleasant outcomes and scenarios and the need to feel safe. It is our innate desire to avoid pain and fears, our desire to feel included and yet hold on to our individuality to the extent that it is socially acceptable.
In both 1984 and Brave New World, through both hedonism and brute force and fear; the variable that doesn’t change is the human and its needs. Its reactive state, desires and the by default biological and psychological tendencies. The control over the human and the society is established in both of these dystopia by the knowledge, manipulation and exploitation of human biology and psychology.