What specific historical allusions is Huxley trying to make in Brave New World?

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Posted on (Answer #1)

Huxley takes the title of his novel Brave New World from Shakespeare's The Tempest:

"O wonder!...How many goodly creatures there are here!...How beauteous mankind is!...O brave new world that has such people in it!"

Names are also symbolic:

  • A.F. ("After Ford"): time is kept according to Henry Ford's assembly line technology.
  • Bernard Marx: named after Karl Marx, a proponent of the socialist/communist state
  • Lenina: named after Lenin, the cruel head of the U.S.S.R.
  • Hemholtz Watson: "named by Huxley after John B. Watson, the founder of the Behaviorist School of psychology)"
  • John: a "Noble Savage" based on the work of the Romantic writers (Rousseau) who said that:
  • a person raised in a primitive world, away from western civilization, has a purity of heart that civilized people lack (although Huxley does not portray the primitive world as a paradise)
  • Neo-Pavlovian conditioning: kids are negatively conditioned to hate books and nature using the methods of Ivan Pavlov's work with conditioning of dogs
  • Caste system: loosely based on the Hindu Caste system which also has five levels (priest, warrior, merchant, artisan, outcast)
  • Centrifugal Bumble-Puppy: a spoof on football which requires elaborate equipment and played in a large field.
  • Soma: "an intoxicating drink prepared from a plant and used in Vedic ritual, believed to be the drink of the gods."


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