The infinitely friendly world of soma holiday: Soma as a symbol throughout Brave New World
Throughout Aldous Huxley's literary work, Brave New World, Many controversial topics were “regulated” such as monogamy, cloning, and religion. Above all, artificial happiness was one theme that Huxley attempted to manage within the book. Brave New World is a book of futuristic ideals and attempts to rule over the minds of its characters in many aspects, including what they believe makes them happy, where everything is derived from, and life's values. Soma, as a pill and as a symbol of false happiness, is used to establish the idea that everything would be better in life when you are completely unaware of your surroundings; Huxley's manipulation of characters, their personality, and their reactions to soma can be viewed as a way of getting his point of masked contentment across.
Within Huxley's story, soma, “the happy pill”, is constantly being used for the characters' stress reliever. When all seems to be going downhill for them, one “half gramme” tablet, often times more than one, is what the World State community will always resort to to rid themselves of any problems, even if temporary. Huxley manipulates the characters' role in the story to identify their use or reasoning behind said use of soma. One particular role is that of Bernard Marx, one of the main characters in the story. Bernard is a failed attempt at an alpha plus specimen, with extreme levels of intelligence yet the physical appearance of that of a lower caste individual. Bernard is well aware of his social difference, and is constantly seen moping or thinking negatively of himself, to himself. Bernard, unlike the other characters, refuses to take any soma tablets for petty problems. Huxleys development of Bernard
Throughout the book can be identified as a sort of rebellious figure towards this controlled environment these characters live in. Bernard loves to be alone or spend time alone with another person, often times Lenina or Helmholtz, and decides that experiencing anything with the use of soma is a lot like not experiencing it at all. Lenina Crowne is a character very dissimilar to Bernard; she is a fragile character on an emotional level, more so than he. When something is not right or she does not like what she is experiencing, she takes several tablets of “the happy pill”. Lenina is opposite of Bernard in many ways including both physical and emotional levels. She is a Beta with absolutely pneumatic features and many men standing behind her admiring her physical state. Although beautiful, Lenina is sensitive and is practically addicted to the effects of soma on her emotional state, along with nearly all the other characters of the book.
Bernard insists on finding joy in life without drug use, while Lenina finds comfort in the masked satisfaction of the pill. In this sense soma as a symbol can be seen as a way of determining psychological strength or determination in finding happiness alone. But unlike Bernard, Lenina is never really alone, due to her superficial perfection and various aficionados. This obstacle (somewhat) is what allows Bernard to be able to conquer or ignore communal activity of the infamous drug use, as well as his general disapproval of all those around him, because of the rude and disgusting way they treat him due to his deformities.
One example of this is when Bernard takes Lenina to New Mexico to visit the “savages” on the reservation. The morning after their stay in Santa Fe Bernard takes Lenina to the reservation and must first speak to the Warden, during his encounter with the warden Bernard remembers that he leaves the tap of the Eau de Cologne running at the hotel and is anxious to call Helmholtz and tell him to turn it off.
The warden is speaking to both him and Lenina, warnings and random information of the reservation itself, and is taking quite some time in doing so. Lenina is aware of the wardens ranting and decided to take a half gramme dose of soma to “sit, serenely not listening, thinking of nothing at all,” While Bernard remains frantic calculating just how much the running tap will cost him, surely a fortune. When they finally get away from the warden, Lenina offers Bernard a gramme but he refuses, “preferring his anger”.
Another who refuses soma is “the savage”, John. John is the birth child of Linda and the Director, born on the New Mexico reservation, John is unaware of any of the technological advances and differences to his state of living until Bernard invites him to come back to England with him and Lenina. When John, the beautiful savage, arrives in London the murmur of a savage stepping foot onto the World State spreads like infectious disease, and at once all of the Centre Inhabitants want to see him. Bernard is then set as his official guardian and all the attention amplifies Bernard's ego. Bernard constantly writes to Mustapha Mond, another world leader, of the savage's adaption to his new environment. In these letters he writes “The savage refuses to take soma, and seems much distressed because....his m----- remains on permanent holiday.”