Brave The New World

Did you catch the promotional key art dropped today by the Outlander/STARZ gang?

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Pretty exciting stuff! And hard not to see the reference to Aldous Huxley’s 1931 dystopian novel, Brave New World.

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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.

Aldous Huxley smoking, circa 1946
No offense.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Slàinte

Outlander photos: STARZ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7 thoughts on “Brave The New World”

  1. I was so excited to see this image when I woke up today… the lowering sky is particularly potent (when not covered in tweets as per the Starz video). I’d made the Huxley connection of course, but it has been more than 30 years since I read the book. Your analysis is, as always, deeply satisfying. Thank you.

    Also (because I am shallow) can we hope to see more of this particular wig on Jamie and less of the crimped fringe featured in the trailer. This may be Terry’s last season doing costumes for them, but she is going out strong- those coats are amazing! (Though why doesn’t Claire get to wrap up warm in a fur as well?).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha, I’m here for your shallowness because that’s one of the first things I thought, too. That wind machine is making them both look gorgeous! Less bangs and more wins for everyone!

      Thanks for reading! I tweeted to Terri to try to get a comment about Claire’s coat, but no reply yet.

      Thanks, again, for your kind words 🙂

      Like

  2. Amazing essay which has given me plenty of food for thought. Love your insights….they add so much to my experience of Outlander. As for the coat issue…there have been other instances in which a character was dressed vastly differently from the others and seemingly not appropriate for the weather. Rare, but there. Geillis in season one? Or is she an anomaly?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading! Yes, I have faith in Terri Dresbach that she knows what she’s doing but I’m so curious to the story behind the coat. In Season 3 she got so much pushback from the promotional photos about the blouse and belt, then we realized the blouse belonged to Bree and the look was modeled after Catherine Herrera. So I’m very curious to know this season’s costuming story!

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  3. Please don’t forget the original source of Huxley’s title—-“oh, brave new world that has such people in it” from The Tempest. I’m pretty sure there’s a whole other essay in there!

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    1. Yes, you’re so right. And I think there will be a lot of Shakespearean motifs in Season 4- mistaken identity, alternate names, physical separation of characters, ghosts, dream imagery, etc.

      Like

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