Epsilon in Brave New World

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  • 0:03 Social Classes
  • 0:33 Bred to be Unintelligent
  • 1:14 Bred to be Strong
  • 1:57 Conditioned to be Happy
  • 2:30 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In 'Brave New World' by Aldous Huxley, embryos are predestined to be part of a specific social class. In this lesson, we will learn more about the lowest caste, Epsilon.

Social Classes

In our society, some people have more advantages from birth than others, but ultimately, we make our own decisions about careers, investments, and social relationships that determine where we fit. In the World State in Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World, embryos are placed in a social class and conditioned to the careers and peers that best meet the needs of the community. In this lesson, we will learn about the social class called Epsilon.

Bred to Be Unintelligent

The World State produces five distinct social classes named from the Greek alphabet. Alphas and Betas are society's elite, while the Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons make up the working class. Each caste has a distinct responsibility in the community, as society could not function without any of them. Epsilons are conditioned before birth to be the lowest class worker. Embryos are deprived of oxygen to ''keep the embryo below par.'' To make sure the Epsilon will be satisfied with the monotonous labor, ''an Epsilon embryo must have an Epsilon environment as well as an Epsilon heredity.'' Intelligence would get in the way of happiness for an Epsilon.

Bred to Be Strong

Although intelligence isn't needed, strength is. In an effort to prevent wasting time while waiting for an Epsilon to mature, growth hormones are applied. ''But though the Epsilon mind was mature at ten, the Epsilon body was not fit to work till eighteen…If the physical development could be speeded up till it was as quick, say, as a cow's, what an enormous saving to the Community.'' To further ensure an Epsilon was satisfied with his destiny to be big and stupid, he is conditioned to feel like his size is an advantage. ''Epsilons had been to some extent conditioned to associate corporeal mass with social superiority. Indeed, a faint hypnopædic prejudice in favour of size was universal.''

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