Savage Happiness

Formally stated, Newton’s third law of motion is: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This law can easily be applied to everyday life. If we lived in a world with a sun never hidden from us, by storm clouds or other means, we would be incapable of knowing what a “clear” day is. To us, it would just be “A Day,” indifferent to us and everything else. In Brave New World, there is a civilized society in which no one experiences sadness. They are civilized, and they are happy, therefore they experience civilized happiness. What of the rest of us? I experience both sadness and happiness; in some instances, the emotion is so strong I forget I am capable of feeling the other. Experiencing sadness is the prerequisite to gratitude. We need opposing forces in our lives. Happiness is one thing, but gratitude for that happiness is arguably more important than the emotion itself. This is called savage happiness.

Brave New World defines individual happiness by the ability to satisfy needs. Whether the need be physical, mental, or sexual, any and all needs are instantaneously met with easy solutions such. It sounds like the perfect situation but the question still arises, is it genuine? To achieve this, all the civilized humans sacrificed their ability to recognize beauty, to feel love, to know God. Surviving while remaining “happy” is what they do. That is not real living. We live through experience, not by satisfying our needs. We need the struggle in order to recognize peace. It’s all a balance between opposing forces, one constant force is impossible. We can’t be grateful if we don’t have a reason to be.

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World defines communal happiness by the ability to achieve perfection. Perfection is the condition of being as free as possible from all flaws and defects. They accomplish this by sacrificing families, mothers, fathers, instead fertilizing eggs in tubes and pre-determining the life of each individual. This makes life more efficient, because children are raised and conditioned by the state, eliminating all conflict that is derived from opinion, because everyone has the same opinions on everything. However, in our world we think for ourselves, we have original thoughts, and that is unquestionably a better way of living. Conflict can be healthy in terms of debates and constructive criticism, one person’s idea of “perfection” eliminating these things all together. We can’t be grateful if we don’t have conflict to remind us to be grateful.

The balance that we need and rely on so much is not present in Brave New World. We are savage, and this savagery is defined as uncivilized, both in the novel Brave New World and in our world. The novel goes on to define a savage as someone who accepts the right to be unhappy, the right to have cancer, the right to love and be loved, the right to be “one of us,” so to speak. We have the right to be savage, however in Brave New World, it is only a privilege. We are allowed to have science, to have Newton’s laws which in turn apply to every aspect of living. So yes, our world isn’t brave, isn’t new, but it’s real, and it’s savage. We are all savages following Newton’s laws of motion by feeling happiness, sadness, and a plethora of other emotions that don’t even have names. Our individual ability to experience life is much more valuable than ever-lasting happiness, more valuable than perfection. We all experience savage happiness, and we should hope that that doesn’t change.


4 thoughts on “Savage Happiness

  1. Wow. What an illuminating piece. You presented such an interesting idea, to be honest when I first started reading I had to momentarily stop just to take in “sagage happiness”. You have explained the necessity of emotion so beautifully ACTUAL TEARS are streaming down my face. A true masterpiece beyond compare. Thank you for blessing myself and other readers alike with such a powerful message.


  2. I am starting to wonder exactly how much of his book was influenced by his drug use. Maybe the reason the characters felt this “false happiness” related to the imprompted happiness caused by doing LSD.


  3. I really like how you chose a unique topic that clearly challenged your thinking. It is obvious that you discovered what “savage happiness” means to you throughout the development of your essay, instead of choosing a stupid and easy topic to get this essay over with. I like the idea of savage happiness and I think it is important to the idea of “living” and not “surviving.” It is interesting how many dystopian novels battle this idea, including “The Giver.”


  4. Their idea of perfection reminds me of the medical system. Sometimes, when something is wrong – they want to take it out, instead of approaching health through a wholesome message. They solved the problem of imperfect families by removing them altogether – that’s like saying your finger hurts so you cut it off. I was also really impressed with the essay – it made me think about contrast, and how that defines the experiences we are. Really effective writing, and a powerful message.


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