The three "rebels" are taken to meet the Controller. Not surprisingly, Bernard is perturbed; Helmholtz is amused; and the Savage is restless. When questioned by the Controller, the Savage admits his dislike of the brave new world except for a few aspects. He is, however, pleasantly surprised to learn that Mustapha Mond is familiar with Shakespeare. The two of them have a discussion about the master dramatist, with an occasional contribution by Helmholtz. Bernard is the silent quivering spectator until he learns that Iceland really was to be his fate. On hearing this news, he has to be carried away blubbering.
The meeting reveals that the Controller is very aware and intelligent. Like the Savage, he is sensitive about the monotony and limited nature of the new society; but he justifies it all in the name of social stability. In fact, he has a reasonable answer to every query from the Savage. He explains that a society of only Alpha pluses had been tried out, but failed. There was too much competition for the top positions and too little willingness to do the menial tasks. Mond has also learned that too much leisure for the lower classes is not advisable, for they are ill-equipped to handle it fruitfully. Having been a physicist of note, he also realizes the dangers of life being based purely on science; instead, science, like beauty, truth, and art, needs to be compromised and safely channeled in order to guarantee social stability.
The chapter ends on a surprising note. Helmholtz decides to go and live
on an island where he feels he may be able to express his individuality
and find like-minded spirits to himself.
This chapter is essentially an extended debate on various factors close to the Huxley's heart. The role of science in society is extensively discussed; but he is careful to distinguish between pure and applied science. Individual freedom versus social stability is also discussed at length with an emphasis on the fact that individuality often causes a person misery. What makes happiness is also considered, with the ideas of leisure and comfort given special attention. War, over-population, and inhumanity are also touched upon.
The Controller's arguments are persuasively and intelligently presented,
but they do not represent all of Huxley's voice. John also serves as a
representative of the author's thoughts. Unfortunately, the old and the
new, represented by these characters, cannot seem to co-exist in peace.
There seems to be no satisfactory solution to their differences. As a
result, John is forced to see that he has no place in this new society.
It is the moment of climax for him. Unlike Helmholtz who decides to escape
to an island in order to find like-minded companionship and greater individual
freedom, the Savage has no place to go.
The Savage and the Controller continue to debate on the merits and demerits of the old and new worlds. The Controller has a good collection of "old" books from which he has learned a great deal; they are now, however, put away and labeled as "smut" to the new civilization. Yet during the debate with John, Mond often refers to them. Discussing the need for a god, the Controller cites Cardinal Newman and Maine de Biran, two philosophers from the past. He explains how all those things that create the need for a god, including old age, sickness, and insecurity, have been eliminated in the brave new world; therefore, Mond argues that a god is no longer required.
John argues that God is needed in moments of heroism, noble sentiments,
solitude, dark moments, and death. The Controller refutes him and says
that in the new world there is soma, permanent youth, insulation from
solitude, and other social benefits, making a god unnecessary. In the
end the battle becomes God, poetry, freedom, feelings, goodness, sin,
and misery vs. Ford, total conditioning, passive acceptance, and science.
In other words, the choice in Mond's mind seems to be the right to unhappiness
caused by individuality vs. no rights at all leading to social stability,
conformity, and a lack of unhappiness. John clearly prefers an imperfect,
but free world to a sterile, scientific, and controlled one, as seen in
the brave new world.
This is a stimulating and thought-provoking chapter. It points out the conflict between democracy, with all its individual challenges, and totalitarianism, with all its stifling affects. In the brave new world, where individual effort is not allowed in the interest of social stability, pure art, science, and religion, the things that set humanity above all other creatures are forbidden. In their place, mammon and materialism become gods. Huxley seems to be warning society against consumerism, which he sees as a type of totalitarianism.
Unfortunately, in the novel Huxley presents the old world as primitive and
the new world as an illusioned utopia. It seems that there should and
does exist a middle ground in between the two extremes. In fact, Huxley
himself, in his foreword to the 1946 edition of the novel, states that
his alternatives--primitivism or utopianism--are very narrow and limited
and that a third realistic alternative, suitably composed of elements
from both, should not be ruled out. Between the insanity of the Savage
Reservation and the lunacy of a totalitarian London, humankind must have
a third choice.