Brave New World And Player Piano: Literary Analysis

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Though Brave New World and Player Piano were originally written in 1931 and 1952 respectively, they, along with dystopia as a genre, remain immensely well-read to this day as thought experiments of societies gone awry. These fictitious accounts continue to be relevant because of their foresightful warnings about the future of reality, each one distinct and thought-provoking. While the two authors formulate their warnings using similar plot structures and techniques, Aldous Huxley writes of societal conformity in Brave New World, and Kurt Vonnegut writes of the consequences of automation in Player Piano. Both warnings emphasize the loss of meaning and purpose in life when faced with the threats of society’s progress. Both Huxley and Vonnegut …show more content…

In Brave New World, John the Savage frequently alludes to Shakespearean works and values that have become lost in Huxley’s dystopia. This is first evidenced soon after John is introduced, and after Bernard has offered to take him to the Other Place, the World State. In his surprise and glee, John asks Bernard, “Do you remember what Miranda says?” (Huxley 141). The direct reference to Shakespeare’s The Tempest is wasted upon Bernard as he questions, puzzled, “Who’s Miranda?”, but the Savage continues eagerly in direct quotation, “O brave new world that has such people in it. Let’s start at once” (Huxley 141). Huxley manipulates this significant encounter to establish John’s peculiar nature and foreshadow his incompatibility with society, as seen by his incoherence to Bernard. John’s Shakespearean values shine later in the novel when Lenina desires him, but John resists, dutifully quoting, ‘If thou dost break her virgin knot before all sanctimonious ceremonies may with full and holy rite…” (Huxley 195). In Huxley’s dystopia, Shakespeare’s concepts of marriage, commitment, and restraint are obsolete, so Lenina is left frustrated and confused: “For Ford’s sake, John,” she demands, “talk sense. I can’t understand a word you say” (Huxley 195). To her, John’s Shakespearean values are foreign and absurd, later inspiring his violent rejection that ends their brief relationship. Thus, John’s old values confirm his irreconcilable differences with the World State. Likewise, the old values are equally emphasized in Player Piano. The rebellion takes the name Ghost Shirt Society as an allusion to Native Americans in crisis in the late nineteenth century. As Reverend James Lasher, one of the uprising’s leaders, explains, “The world had changed radically for the Indians. It had become a white man’s world, and Indian ways in a white man’s world were irrelevant...” (Vonnegut 288).

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