Margaret Atwood authored an article titled “Everybody is Happy Now” which was published in The Guardian in 2007. In this piece, Atwood focused on the analysis of the book Brave New World in which the author Aldous Huxley (1932) presented a form of world order in which everything was perfection-able. In the article, Atwood refers to how Huxley envisioned a utopian society in which science and technology brought about harmony and happiness by reassuring people of their safety, prosperity, and well-being but the price of which Huxley had consider until 1946 when he came up with the second book that now promoted utilitarianism instead of the totalitarianism reflected in the first book. In light of Margaret Atwood’s article and the Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, this paper presents a summary of the major issues that were raised by Atwood and also supports the argument that more than 75 years after the book was written, it is disappointing to realize that people still pursue the same utopia or rather the dystopia about which Huxley wrote back in 1932.
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As Margaret Atwood mentions, Huxley was brought up in a Victorian style family that knew all about the good life and what it entails to grow up in a society that knows what good family values are. He had read or at least heard the arguments of various philosophical leaders including Plato and Socrates and he also understood clearly what totalitarianism was capable of doing to the society. Further, Huxley clearly knew and comprehended how the building of a New Jerusalem in England began with the execution, maiming, and even jailing of those people who were considered to be opposed to the idea of a utopian state. This is indicated in the article where Atwood states that Huxley himself still had his foot in the 19th century and knew how threatening upside-down morality was; yet he moved on to write about and encourage casual sex, genetically modified babies, drug abuse, and the issue of immense consumption.
More than 75 years after Huxley wrote his book, Atwood looked into how the world was living and realized that the everything that were encouraged by Huxley was taking place in the light of day. Casual sex had become the order of the day. Women were taking pills not to get pregnant and the revered mother was no more than just another obscenity. Atwood refers to the issue of everyone belonging to everyone else referring to the ability of both women and men to choose with whom to have sex, when, and where. In her observation, the author also notes that even the association of AIDS with promiscuity has not stopped the world from engaging in this uncivil behavior and the utopian state that has turned out to be a biting dystopia.
The satire in the title of Atwood’s article is not hard to find. The author seems to question whether the world is happier now when the views and opinions about a utopian society as expressed by Huxley are all in play. She conveys her concern about the fact that Huxley himself sought to recant his views on a perfection-able world through a book he Huxley wrote in 1946 after realizing that the Soviet and the Nazi states ideologies had been built based on utopian ideologies that later led to the Second World War. Most importantly, Atwood’s satire is evident in the statement where she says that utopia is the perfect state that does not exist. What impresses most in the article is the fact that even after all that has happened to the humanity as a result of the promiscuity and immorality that have been popularized, nobody seems to notice that a perfect society cannot be created by totalitarianism or the use of war and this is the very reason why people from all over the world are not happy.
Humanity cannot be said to be happier than they were when Huxley wrote Brave New World and they are not happier today when the popularity casual sex, test-tube babies, and use of drugs has greatly increased. In fact, what can be said of the world is that there is a growing level of anxiety as people struggle with the effects of the unbecoming conduct as proposed by Huxley, and this is apparently the price that people have to pay for their momentary happiness. Sex with all the religiousness associated with it has become meaningless, and, as Atwood claims, has become grossly available to everyone. It is for this reason that it is no surprise to find young children replacing the old orgy-porgy with highly inappropriate games that are an embodiment of the current society. In fact, this very issue of making sex grossly available to everyone and everywhere has been the very reason for the disembodiment of the deity and piety that characterized the 19th century and due to it the desire for the return to the value-based cultural settings appeared during last years.
In her closing remarks, Margaret Atwood asked two questions. The first one looks into how the world looks like 75 years after Huxley’s book was written. The second question asks how close people have come to the society of vapid consumers, inner-space trippers, idle pleasure-seekers, and the programmed conformists whom the world presents. Atwood answers the first question by stating that in light of Brave New World, the very issues addressed in the book are still vibrant, fresh, and as shocking as they were when the novel was first published. Answering the second one, the author says that what her readers see of themselves when they look into the mirror is the very sense of what John the Savage and Lanina stood for in Huxley’s work. This means that Huxley presented us to ourselves highlighting the fact that all the issues that he addressed in his book are similar to those that the society has found itself in about a century later, and the worst part is that instead of the utopia that Huxley described in the book, dystopia has taken charge of the world and it is real.
In conclusion, I reflected upon the Atwood’s article in relation to what it says about Huxley’s work. The book, though almost a century old, presents a synthesis of the things which affects the world today. People pursue happiness in all the wrong ways which include sexuality as well as the use of drugs and desire all the things that are filled with vanity. Not many individuals take time to reflect upon the implications and the cost that the world has to pay for the wrong actions and, as a result, humanity cannot be said to be happier now than it was more than 75 years ago. Instead, voices of dissent are louder than ever. Wars have returned to haunt the world and people while various religious and political factions are rushing to reassure the society of the possibility of becoming happy and great again. As Atwood puts it, life must have a meaning greater than the play of senses and immediate gratification of the flesh which will never be enough. That is why everybody is not happy now, when everybody belongs to everyone else.
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