Short Reports: Emily Carroll vs. Brave New World.
Hello everyone! We’re kicking off August with a full week of Short Reports! Today’s post is by the lovely Emily Carroll, an animator living in Vancouver, and she “draws a lot of things a lot of the time.” (which you can see at her Livejournal or blog). Check back next Monday for our regularly scheduled posts too!
In Grade 11 English, I gave an oral book report on Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. I had no notes and nothing planned. In fact, the only items I had brought were costume designs and character sketches that I posted to the blackboard; a backdrop while I stood in front of my class for thirty minutes and rambled enthusiastically about the plot, the themes, and the good ol’ social satire of a book I had absolutely adored (if memory serves, the resulting grade was pretty good!).
So often “dystopia” calls to mind grim, jackboot-to-the-face, oppressive regimes, and what appeals to me so much about the society of Brave New World is that on the surface it seems idyllic — there exists no crime, no war, no poverty — but yet the population is still being rigidly controlled. It is a world that snickers at emotional sincerity, derides intellectual pursuits, and finds individuality embarrassing.
“The lift was crowded with men from the Alpha Changing Rooms, and Lenina’s entry was greeted by many friendly nods and smiles. She was a popular girl and, at one time or another, had spent a night with almost all of them.
They were dear boys, she thought, as she returned their salutations. Charming boys! Still, she did wish that George Edzel’s ears weren’t quite so big (perhaps he’d been given just a spot too much of parathyroid at metre 328?). And looking at Benito Hoover, she couldn’t help remembering that he was really too hairy when he took his clothes off.
Turning, with eyes a little saddened by the recollection of Benito’s curly blackness, she saw in a corner the small thin body, the melancholy face of Bernard Marx.”
In this scene, at the beginning of Chapter IV, the character Lenina Crowne has just been informed by a friend that her “long term” (ie. four month long) relationship with Henry Foster is being viewed by some as rather unseemly. Lenina, eager to conform to cultural norms and prove that she is indeed as promiscuous as society expects her to be, spots Bernard Marx, a quiet fellow commonly viewed as odd for his dislike of Obstacle Golf and his less than stellar height (among other things), and immediately sets about taking him up on his earlier offer of a date. The resulting outing gets the ball rolling on the rest of the story.