Community, Identity, Stability” is the motto of Aldous Huxley’s utopian World State. Here everyone consumes daily grams of soma, to fight depression, babies are born in laboratories, and the most popular form of entertainment is a “Feelie,” a movie that stimulates the senses of sight, hearing, and touch. Though there is no violence and everyone is provided for, Bernard Marx feels something is missing and senses his relationship with a young women has the potential to be much more than the confines of their existence allow. Huxley foreshadowed many of the practices and gadgets we take for granted today–let’s hope the sterility and absence of individuality he predicted aren’t yet to come
Bernard Marx is feeling empty. Not depressed. He takes his anti-depression medication, soma, faithfully. He would never hurt his community by skipping out on his daily dosage of the happy drug. But the soma simply doesn’t seem to be working.
He tries other things that are supposed to make him feel. Bernard goes to Feelie after Feelie, watching the images that are supposed to make him happy, fulfilled. He spends time with his partner, Jessica. They walk around the city, talking about the emotions portrayed in the most recent feelie. Nothing works.
So one day Bernard takes a triple dose of soma, and the world blurs.
Bernard’s spirit journey is strange, and he thinks partially influenced by information from an old history book he’d discovered a few months back. He wanders through a brightly colored city with men and women interacting together in shockingly intimate ways. He hears arguments, and sees violence, yet the world seems to still be functional. The people around him have life and color, although Bernard expects that vividness of the hues might be influenced by his teetering state of mind.
He wakes up in a medical facility. His partner, Jessica had come to take him to a new Feelie and found him passed out on the floor. She’s bent over him, and he impulsively reaches up and kisses her, something they’ve never done before.
And so Bernard discovers feelings. He stops going to feelies, and so does Jessica. They petition to move in together, something unheard of and are denied, by their increasingly worried superiors. Still, they spend most of their nights together in Bernard’s apartment. Other people notice the couple, and adopt their familiar relationship. A following is formed as others find joy with their partners.
As time passes, Jessica gains weight like crazy, and Bernard is worried about her. She’s been increasingly emotional. Soma does little to sooth her bouts of sadness, anger, and occasionally manic joy.
And then one day Bernard comes home to find her sitting in a pool of blood, clutching a baby.
They are perplexed.
Babies come from laboratories, where they are carefully grown in a sterile environment. They do not come from people.
This one did.
Jessica is terrified that once the officials find out, they’ll take the baby away. Bernard can’t help but agree, he was already receiving enormous pressure at work to conform, to return to a distanced relationship and hive mind mentality.
So they gather together as many followers as they can and show them what they can only assume is their baby. What was meant to be a consultation on what the couple should do, quickly turned into questioning the officials, and within a few minutes people are running out to tell their coworkers and neighbors of their unknown oppression.
A rebellion ignites. The official buildings are torn down, the officials imprisoned or killed. It spreads from city to city until the world is finally ‘free’.
Unfortunately, with all of the experts gone, power quickly shuts off and Bernard and Jessica’s world reverts to feudalistic times.
Still, as they learn to farm, dig pit toilets, and clarify water they hope for a bright future for their child, and dream of a future time when they will be able to shower with warm water.