Often individuals choose to conform to society, rather than pursue personal desires because it is often easier to follow the path others have made already, rather than create a new one. In the novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, this conflict is explored. Huxley starts the story by introducing Bernard Marx, the protagonist of the story, who is unhappy with himself, because of the way he interacts with other members of society. As the story progresses, the author suggests that, like soma, individuals can be kept content with giving them small pleasure over short periods of time.
Thus, it is suggested in the book that if individuals would conform to their society’s norms, their lives would become much happier and also easier in the long run. Consequently, by developing the story this way, the author was able to effectively how an unsatisfied individual might fit in with society. There are a number of reasons as to why Bernard often finds himself on the outside of the society. One of them being his “hardly better physique than the average Gamma” (55).
This disadvantage prevents him from being confident in himself, which in turn also makes him seem like he doesn’t fit in because all the other Alphas are incredibly confident, for example Helmholtz and Henry. At the same time, Bernard’s social awkwardness doesn’t help his cause either. For instance, at the Solidarity Services, when he sat down by mistake beside Morgana Rothchild, she asked him what sport has he been playing that afternoon, tongue-tied he didn’t even answer because he was too stunned by the mistake he just made.
Finally, the topics which he wants to talk about with others, most people in that society are not interested in discussing them, and therefore he finds himself not having many subjects to talk about with others. For example when he attempted to talk to Lenina about passion, she choose to “stop the ears of her mind”(81). Not only that most do not even understand he is trying to communicate, but they are simply not even interested because they are happy with what they have.
In conclusion, Bernard is interested in pursuing his personal desires, instead of conforming to society because he doesn’t like the way society is and what it is restricting people from. Although Huxley starts the story by introducing Bernard and his disapproval with the way society works, he suggests that individuals can be prevented from pursuing personal desires, if they are kept content with giving them small pleasures over short periods of time. The way which Bernard’s society keeps its people happy is by encouraging them to take soma regularly and to have sexual relationships with multiple partners.
Drugs and sex, only keeps people happy for a short period of time and that is while it is happening. As soon as it is over they return to the misery they were in before, but the society encourages more, thus individuals who comply with the society are always kept content. Bernard is similarly kept satisfied by soma, even though he doesn’t take it too often; it’s his way of escaping reality when he is deeply unhappy with how his life is going. Intimacy with the other sex doesn’t keep him content because he questions this belief, but instead going on a date with Lenina or visiting the reservation does.
The protagonist appreciates spending quality time, for instance when he suggest that for his date with Lenina, they “land on top of the Skiddaw and walk for a couple of hours in the heather”(77) or when he wishes to “look at the sea in peace”(78). In the end, Bernard is not conforming to society, therefore he is unhappy, if he would have followed all these rules such as taking soma regularly and having an active social life, then he would be happy. In conclusion, it is suggested in the novel, that the life of those individuals who choose to obey society completely, will be the happiest.
Accordingly, society will make sure that its individuals are pleased, by providing satisfaction through activities offered at specific intervals of time. When an individual is unhappy, they might choose to pursue their personal desires rather than conform to the society, because it seems as the only way they can achieve happiness. It is easier to conform to society rather than pursue one’s personal desires because it is more challenging creating your own path to walk on, rather than walking on the path everyone takes.