Social status is not always determined by the money that somebody has. Sometimes, it may be determined by the ability somebody has to adapt to what they are given. Other times, it can refer to what type of person a specific human may actually be. In Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, social status is given at birth, and this depends on how much a person does. Nobody can control what social class they are actually into, it is all up to fate. Traditional birth is not how new life is formed in the novel though, instead, humans are artificially created with certain qualities that affect how they think and what they will do. When faced with different situations, if two people are in different classes, they will react to the situations they are given differently. This is due to the fact that humans are now being artificially constructed. There are also different ways some people are born, whether it is just being them being created, or if there is a lot of identical people being created at once. Babies are fertilized in the eggs and then given different treatments and tests to shape who they will actually become. When people in this new world are born, they are, “conditioned to become one of five basic varieties: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, or Epsilon (The first five letters of the Greek Alphabet)” (Wilson et al.) Alphas are the highest of social class, while epsilons are at the bottom in London, but not all of society. Epsilons have the least mental capability of all the classes though. The story showcases this theme through how some characters have a life much easier than those who were not created at the higher class. The theme of social status can be analyzed through the characters Lenina, the beta class, and John.
The alpha class is the highest of all the classes that somebody could be born into. Lenina Crowne is part of the alpha class, the highest class that somebody could be created into. This class often does the least amount of work, and a lot is given to them that they do not need to work for. Alphas have the most capability of doing things due to the conditions they are given when they are created. They are the smartest of all the classes, and they are the only class that can have critical individual thoughts. The other classes have their thoughts taught to them when they are being created. Lenina is one of many, “people destined to be leaders–alphas–are produced from a single ovum and are therefore capable of individual thought; those meant to be followers and workers are mass-produced.” (Wilson et al.) This shows that of all the classes, alphas are the most dominant. They are able to do what others are not capable of, which is to bring up that individual thought. This thought puts them ahead of the other social classes. If there is a problem that comes up, the Alphas will be able to come up with the best solution. At the top of the class, the alphas have so much luxury. While the lower classes are working, the alphas still do work, but they are smart enough to do it. Also, they have a lot more enjoyment in life as whenever they have free time they are always playing some sort of game. The alphas live the easiest lives. Although the alphas are able to have individual thoughts, these thoughts are not always positive. When “The young man tried to explain himself. Linda and he– Linda was his mother (the word made Lenina uncomfortable)–were strangers in the reservation. Linda had come from the other place long ago, before he was born, with a man who was his father. (Bernard picked up his ears)” (118). As an alpha, Lenina is so used to having everything set out for her, that when she sees a society that is struggling, it disgusts her. In London, everything is clean and organized compared to New Mexico, which is very filthy, and they have a different culture than what Lenina is used to being a part of. With being artificially created, the concept of having parents is very foreign to the alpha class and will stir a reaction when both mothers and fathers are mentioned.
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The betas are the second-highest tier of social class. They are above the Gammas, Deltas, Epsilons, and Savages. They are below the Alpha class though. Although no main characters are actually from the beta class, they are depicted as being very unique. The Betas can be seen as their own class. After being created as a beta, they have to be trained on how to think and what to think. When in this training, the message played for the betas was, “Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they’re so frightfully clever. I’m really awfully glad I’m a Beta, because I don’t work so hard.” (Huxley 21) This is showing that although they may not be as high up in the social class as Alphas, Betas still can live solid lives. They do not need to put as much effort and thinking to things that the Alphas have to. This also shows the dominance of Alphas by the class below them stating that they are clever. Although, this cleverness may benefit the Beta class. The expectations for the Betas are much lower than the expectations are for the Alphas. Betas are expected to do what they have to do with the abilities that they have. Betas are also told, “we are much better than the Gammas and the Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and the Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don’t want to play with Delta Children.” (Huxley 21) Betas are taught to think highly of the Alphas above them, but still be grateful for what they have. They are also trained to not respect and criticize the classes below them based off of what they wear, and also how they act. This shows how in the middle the Betas are between everything. Betas are smart, but they are not as smart as the Alpha class. Betas do hold themselves to higher standards when it comes to fashion. The betas are what mixes the Alpha class and everything below it.
John is part of the lowest social class in a society which is also known as the savages. The savages are below all of the other social classes. The savages are the most outcast by the other classes. John is said to also be, “unable to adjust to his new surroundings, despite the support given him by his new friends Bernard and an “emotional engineer” named Helmholtz Watson.” (Wilson et al.) The savages do not think like the other classes do. They are the closest to traditional humanity. They believe in having parents, where the other social classes despise that idea. John showcased emotions when his mother passed away, where the other social classes laughed and wondered why John was crying. Before Bernard and Linda actually met John, they were flying to New Mexico to see what the area was actually like. “At the pueblo of Malpaís, the couple see an Indian ceremonial dance in which a young man is whipped to propitiate the gods. Lenina is shocked and disgusted by the filth of the place and by the primitive aspects of all she sees.” (Neilson) In any other social class, there will be no ceremonial dances, only by the Savages will this occur. The standards are completely different than what others are used too. The Savage Reservation is a filthy place that is not well taken care of because it is so low in society. For Lenina to go all the way up in society to visit the lowest is such a drastic change. Everything is given to Lenina whereas for John everything has to be earned. When John was taken to the upper classes, he could never blend in. He showed emotion which others did not. He also used the words mother and father whereas everybody else is artificially created. In the end, John could not fit in with everybody and he outcasted himself from society. This outcast caused depression for John which was his ultimate downfall.
The theme of social class can be seen with all of the characters in the story whether they have a major role in the story or not. Whether it be through the way that they execute jobs or think about the problems in front of them, there are major differences between the classes. Those at the top have the most given to them, while those at the bottom have to work for what is needed. At the top of the class, there are the Alphas like Lenina who are the smartest of all the classes, and have the most given to them. The Alphas are the most honored of all the classes due to them having the most ability to perform tasks. Although there are no major characters in the beta class, their thoughts are still emphasized. They are born with the thought to be grateful for where they are and respect those above them, but they are also programmed to criticize those below them. The betas are neutral between all of the classes. They still do work, but not as much as the alphas or the classes below them. The Betas also criticize those below them based on clothing. The Betas are a judgemental class that does what needs to be done. Then there are the savages who are completely outcast from society due to the thoughts that they have. Even if attempted, the savages are not meant to fit into the rest of society. The savages are stuck in the older times where humans were not created. Social class will always be a factor in determining how successful someone is.