Instincts and Biases in Literature
The human experience is often a mixed bag- one filled to the brim with primal anxieties and the often necessary necessity for one to blend in.
Without fail, these building blocks of our own realities create barriers that only end up existing for the sole purpose to damage the connections we as people could hope to have.
Within the novels of Brave New World, nineteen thirty two, and The Lord of the Flies, nineteen fifty four, written by Aldous Huxley and William Golding respectively, the art of satire is interwoven throughout both stories’ plots all in hopes to criticize the ways in which people cling to conformity, demean those that are deemed as outcasts, and suppress or embody basic animal instinct.
The incessant need for the individual to belong to a cohesive group can and often will override their moral obligations to others and squander their independence.
Pride and biases are tools so commonly introduced from a young age to each and every individual in the general populous, enforcing stereotypes to keep people in line with their given group.
“We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all, we’re not savages. We’re English, and the English are best at everything.” (Golding 42)
“In Brave New World, all of the members of the society, from Alpha to Epsilon, are tailored specifically for the work they will do. Through in vitro fertilization and the fictional Bokanovsky’s cloning process, multiple identical twins are bred in Huxley’s dystopian world. Because individuals born into the lower classes are genetically tailored to do their assigned jobs, the labor force is not alienated. In Huxley’s novel, the techniques of mass production are applied to human reproduction, creating social classes perfectly fitted to the work they perform. Inane work is done by mindless Epsilon-Minus Semi-Morons.” (McQuail)
An individual can only seek to run from his or her outside influences so much before he or she too in some shape, way, or form are afflicted by conformity’s torture.
“John Savage is usually deemed the most individualistic character in the novel. However, his actions are not so much prompted by the desire to confirm his individuality but, rather, to integrate into society. Not a citizen of the World State, John’s denial of the Brave New World at the end of the novel appears to be a rebellious act when, instead, it illustrates his allegiance to the culture of the reservation, which is supposed to cleanse him from contact with the World State.” (Brown)
“Roger gathered a handful of stones and began to throw them. Yet there was a space round Henry, perhaps six yards in diameter, into which he dare not throw. Here, invisible yet strong, was the taboo of the old life. Round the squatting child was the protection of parents and school and policemen and the law.” (Golding 62)
Those who fall into, force themselves through towards or do not make the attempt to otherwise avoid the branching path from the rest of a conforming society, are bound to be misunderstood.
Typically it is the ones with the most potential to change the world’s ways for the better that are seen as too polarizing and dangerous for the current order.
“The greater a man’s talents, the greater his power to lead astray. It is better that one should suffer than that many should be corrupted. Consider the matter dispassionately, Mr. Foster, and you will see that no offense is so heinous as unorthodoxy of behavior. Murder kills only the individual—and, after all, what is an individual?” (Huxley 148)
“For to regard Ralph and Jack as Good and Evil is to ignore the role of the child Piggy, who in the child’s world of make-believe is the outsider. Piggy’s composite description not only manifests his difference from the other boys; it also reminds the reader of the stereotype image of the old man who has more-than-human wisdom…its irrationality is marked by Piggy’s progressive blindness.” (Rosenfield)
Sometimes, though, potential is not enough to push a person and sometimes, just sometimes, they will fall prey to the judgment of the jury before they can ever reach their goals.
“I am I, and I wish I weren’t.” – ‘Treatment of Bernard, the Savage, & Helmholtz’ (Huxley
‘Treatment of Piggy’
One of the more overlooked and then since most uneasy parts of the human psyche is it’s set of more animal instincts. (expand)
The division between conscience reasoning and instinctual paranoia tends to blur more than we care to address.
“Maybe,” he said hesitantly, “maybe there is a beast.” Not surprisingly, the reaction from the other boys is outrageous laughter, but Simon tries again. “What I mean is. . . maybe it’s only us.”
‘John’s attempt to distance himself from the New World and others, believing himself to be more civilized and human, leads to neurosis and paranoia’
The suppression of human and hence animal instinct leads to a sense of superiority complex for people that will often lend itself to a sort of mistaken identity for what humans are capable of.
“Finally, a few symbols represent this interplay between the individual and society…By this point, their desire for violence outweighs their desire for rules and peaceful coexistence.”
‘The many suppressed emotions of the World Order and the character’s responses’
Humans are not as complex as we so often attempt to reinforce.
Every aspect of our lives can be chalked up to the infusion of instinct and similarly ancient, built-in cultural norms that have shaped and shifted society as a whole for the worse.
Though the nature of people is this amalgamation of ill-controlled instincts and societal pressures, people are capable of moving past these things by embracing their benefits and hence evolving a better set of cultural norms. (expand)
- Brown, Elke. “Individual and Society in Brave New World.” Encyclopedia of Themes in Literature, 3-Volume Set. Bloom’s Literary Reference Online. Excerpt originally published in Encyclopedia of Themes in Literature, 3-Volume Set, 2010.
- Fleck, A.D. “Mythical Elements in Lord of the Flies.” Readings on Lord of the Flies, edited by Clarice Swisher, Greenhaven, 1997, pp. 30-39.
- Literary Companion to British Literature.
- Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. Penguin, 2016.
- Green, Peter. “Golding’s Symbolism.” William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, edited by Harold Bloom, Chelsea, 1996, pp. 27-29. Bloom’s Notes.
- Henningfeld, Diane Andrews. An Overview of Lord of the Flies. 1998. Gale Literature Resource Center
- Huxley, Aldous. “Brave New World.” Brave New World: Unabridged and Unadapted from the Original Text And with Fourteen Related Readings, edited by Carol Gladstone, Marco, 2003, pp. 3-260.
- McQuail, Josephine A. Alienation in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. 2009.
- Bloom’s Literary Themes: Alienation. Bloom’s Literary Reference Online.
- Neighbors, Ryan. Individual and Society in Lord of the Flies. 2010. Encyclopedia of Themes in Literature, 3-Volume Set. Bloom’s Literary Reference Online
- Rosenfield, Claire. ‘Men of a Smaller Growth’: A Psychological Analysis of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. 1990. Contemporary Literary Criticism. Gale Literature Resource Center
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Introduction The human experience is often a mixed bag- one filled to the brim with primal anxieties and the often necessary necessity for one to blend in. Without fail, these […]