Brave New World

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Industrialism and Consumption Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Technology and Control Theme Icon
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
Industrialism and Consumption Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Brave New World, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Industrialism and Consumption Theme Icon

Brave New World criticizes the industrial economic systems of the era in which it was written by imagining those systems pushed to their logical extremes. The industrial revolution that began in the second half of the 19th century and sped up through the 20th allowed for the production of massive quantities of new goods. But there's no value in producing new goods that no one wants, so the willingness of the masses to consume these new goods was crucial to economic growth and prosperity. It became an economic imperative, then, that people always want new things, because if people were satisfied with what they had they wouldn't consume enough to keep the wheels of industrial society churning along. Some people would argue that almost all of advertising is an effort to make you, the consumer, consume things you don't really need.

The World State in Brave New World has made consumption one of its centerpieces. All World State citizens are conditioned to consume. Hypnopeadic teachings condition them to throw out worn clothes instead of mending them, to prefer complicated sports with lots of mechanical parts to simple games, and to refrain from any activity like thinking or reading that doesn't involve the payment of money for goods. It is as if the citizens of the World State exist to serve their economy, rather than the other way around.

Industrialism and Consumption ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Industrialism and Consumption appears in each chapter of Brave New World. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Industrialism and Consumption Quotes in Brave New World

Below you will find the important quotes in Brave New World related to the theme of Industrialism and Consumption.
Chapter 3 Quotes
Ending is better than mending. The more stitches, the less riches.
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:

The Elementary Class Consciousness lesson at the Hatcheries has ended, but the recorded voice continues to repeat hypnopaedic "suggestions" that encourage these children to grow up with the belief that limitless greed and consumption are better than moderation or frugality. These maxims are phrased in a whimsical, memorable fashion akin to children's nursery rhymes, and as such are reminiscent of the government propaganda used in World Wars I and II, which blended commercial advertising and patriotism in its messaging. However, while the messages disseminated by the World State echo the style of wartime propaganda, they convey the opposite message: while the wartime propaganda was designed to encourage people to limit wastefulness, the hypnopaedic suggestions of the World State make clear that the duty of citizenship involves throwing away possessions instead of fixing them, in order to enable further consumption and continue to drive the economy.

Note that the phrase "Ending is better than mending" is eerily similar to the famous "Make Do and Mend" campaign of WWII (although they of course contain contradictory sentiments!). This similarity is striking, considering the Make Do and Mend campaign was not launched until 1943, and Brave New World was written in 1932. Furthermore, in the economic boom of the decades following WWII, the surge in commercial advertising and consumption did indeed create a culture in which the "Make Do and Mend" mindset was replaced by a drive to purchase more and more products. The message that "Ending is better than mending" is thus one of several examples of Huxley's remarkable ability to anticipate the future. 

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