Did you catch the promotional key art dropped today by the Outlander/STARZ gang?
Pretty exciting stuff! And hard not to see the reference to Aldous Huxley’s 1931 dystopian novel, Brave New World.
Is it intentional? I tend to believe so, given we are dealing with a highly talented crew of writers; I generally feel that most things in the Outlander universe- costuming, set design, promotional art, etc- are done very intentionally.
So should we look at this a bit closer? I promise to keep this brief, considering Aldous Huxley can be a lot to tackle on a Friday afternoon.
If it’s been awhile since your tenth grade literature class, the summary of Brave New World is this:
Futuristic London (AD 2540) is a utopian society where people are engineered, feelings are tightly regulated through chemical use, and citizens are held in strict caste systems. Everything is very orderly and peaceful and pleasant.
Two citizens, Bernard and Lenina, travel to New Mexico on holiday. They see everything they don’t see in utopian London: pain, aging, disease, etc. There they also meet Linda and her son, John, who were accidentally left behind when they visited from London years ago. Bernard and Lenina take John and Linda back to London, where John is essentially treated like an celebrity noble savage.
Note: this isn’t so far fetched. We’ve done this many, many times before…
A series of events causes John to look at this seemingly utopian world with disdain. He famously states that he has a right to unhappiness, and he exiles himself and later commits suicide.
The message? Life is not worth living if it cannot be felt.
So, back to Outlander. I bet you can already think of the comparisons. Does Claire not also reject a relatively utopian society (modern medicine, central heat, abundant food, etc) to return to Jamie in the eighteenth century? Her choice to leave the twentieth century is analogous to John asserting his right to unhappiness— the right to experience life in all its messy glory, for better or for worse.
Because love is wonderful, but love is also very hard. We can love someone and consider them our soul mate, but that relationship is also vulnerable to all the unpleasant emotions of being human: jealousy, insecurity, anger, grief.
And for those that have read the novels, think about the similar journeys that await Roger and Brianna (no spoilers, please). Difficult decisions to make: safety vs danger, living in love vs merely living.
So, let’s all get excited to see our characters Brave this New World. One with violence and disease and passion and love. We all have a right to unhappiness, and we are better for it.
“But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.”
-Brave New World
Outlander photos: STARZ