||This dissertation intends to study the quest for the authentic life in both Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. In this dissertation, I attempt to examine how Huxley and Orwell criticize the modern trend toward dehumanization and how both writers assert the value of the authentic life in their individual dystopian novels. In the twentieth century, the rise of totalitarianism and the development of science and technology threaten the independence of the individual. In their respective dystopian novels, both Huxley and Orwell reflect this crisis of the death of individuality in the modern world and warn us against it by portraying the quest of the characters for an individual meaningful life. On the other hand, the rise of existentialism also reflects the human desire to live a life of authenticity in this excruciating modern condition. Philosophers like Heidegger and Sartre all try to assert the value of the individual authentic life in this modern world where traditional values seem no longer sufficient to guide the individual in his life. Thus, it seems that the four authors Heidegger, Sartre, Huxley and Orwell all share the concern for the freedom of humans in the modern world. To them, an authentic individual life has a value in itself. It overrides the past utopian concern for rational order that overlooks the freedom and independence of the individual. |
The introduction focuses on presenting the major tents of Heidegger’s and Sartre’s ideas on authenticity. In his Being and Time, Heidegger mentions the characteristics of a life of fallen-ness, the individualizing effects of anxiety, the call of conscience and the authentic life. And in his Being and Nothingness, and Existentialism and Humanism, Sartre emphasizes the freedom of the individual to define himself through his own free choice of actions. In their individual philosophical works, both of them emphasize the freedom of the individual to take the initiative to create an authentic life. Chapter two focuses on a comparison between three works, Plato’s The Republic, Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four. In my discussion of their similarities and differences, we try to point out both Huxley’s and Orwell’s reflections on the modern world and their implied criticism of Plato’s utopian ideals which can be taken advantage of by the modern dictators. Chapter three treats Huxley’s dystopia Brave New World as essentially an anti-existential world in which there exists no possibility for the individual to lead a truly authentic life. Through the characters’ rebellion, Huxley suggests to the reader that the true authentic life consists in the quest for beauty, love and truth. Chapter four focuses on the protagonist’s quest for the authentic life in Orwell’s dystopia Nineteen Eighty-four. By starting a diary to keep a faithful record of the past, by developing a love affair and joining the Brotherhood to revive the past authentic life, Orwell’s protagonist Winston Smith actually serves as the novelist’s alter ego to express his ideal for the individual authentic life.