If you gave someone the choice between getting what they wanted and not getting what they wanted, they'd choose getting what they wanted every time. This satisfaction of desire, the person would believe, would make them happy. In order to maintain its stability, the World State in Brave New World ensures that all its citizens get exactly what they want all the time. In other words, the World State is designed to make people happy. This universal "happiness" is achieved in three ways: 1) The state uses biological science and psychological conditioning to make sure that each citizen is not only suited to its job and role but actually prefers that role to anything else, and therefore doesn't want anything he or she can't have; 2) Through the promotion of promiscuous sex as virtuous and the elimination of families or any long-term relationship of any sort, the government ensures that no one will ever face intense and unreciprocated emotional or sexual desire; 3) Whatever sadness slips through the cracks can be brushed away by using soma, a drug with no side-effects that gives the user a pleasant high and makes all worries dissolve away. All three methods are successful: in the World State, almost everybody really does seem to be happy all of the time.
But through Bernard, Helmholtz, the Savage, and even Mustapha Mond, Brave New World poses the question: at what cost does this happiness come? What gets lost when every one of an individual's desires is immediately met? The novel's answer is that the satisfaction of every desire creates a superficial and infantile happiness that creates stability by eliminating deep thought, new ideas, and strong passions. Without ideas or passions, mankind loses the possibility of the more significant fulfillments provided by the pursuit of truth in art and science, or the pursuit of love and understanding with another person. Brave New World argues that happiness and stability are fool's gold, making adults into infants who do not care about truth or progress.
The Cost of Happiness ThemeTracker
The Cost of Happiness Quotes in Brave New World
Like drops within the Social River;
Oh, make us now together run
As swiftly as thy shining Flivver.
Come, Greater Being, Social Friend,
We long to die, for when we end,
Our larger life has but begun.
Feel how the Greater Being comes!
Rejoice and, in rejoicings, die!
Melt in the music of the drums!
For I am you and you are I.
Orgy-porgy, Ford and fun,
Kiss the girls and make them One.
Boys at One with girls at peace;
Orgy-porgy gives release."
Howling, the Deltas charged with a redoubled fury.
'All right then,' said the Savage defiantly, 'I'm claiming the right to be unhappy.'