Aldous Huxley’s title for the novel comes from Shakespeare’s play The Tempest.
Prospero, once the Duke of Milan, is deposed by his brother Antonio. Prospero and his two-year-old daughter are abandoned in a small boat at sea. They find an island to live on. Miranda grows up to be a lovely young woman who has no knowledge of the world. Her father uses his power as a magician to create a storm that brings a boat carrying his old enemies to the island so he can punish them for his exile.
Two supernatural characters become Prospero’s slaves on the island: Caliban, the deformed and base son of a dead witch, and Ariel, a spiritual being who had been imprisoned by Caliban’s mother. These are the only other two beings Miranda had known. When Miranda sees the various men who have come to the island, she says, “O Brave New World.” Prospero, who has worldly experience, replies, “Tis new to thee.”
The play is judged to have been written in 1610–1611, and shows the inner nature of human beings revealed in crisis and change.
Throughout the novel, John the Savage is drawn to two plays of Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet and Othello. Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy of two young lovers. Juliet is a beautiful, virginal 14-year-old. Romeo is the handsome teenage son of the Montague...
(The entire section is 559 words.)
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The Plot (Magill's Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature)
In the totalitarian state of Brave New World, people are socially conditioned from conception; they are hatched from test tubes rather than being born. Something is wrong with Bernard Marx. Although he ought to be, in keeping with everyone else in this engineered society, an absolute conformist, he evinces certain quirks that his fellows find disturbing. They theorize that something must have gone wrong chemically during his incubation. Bernard dates Lenina Crowne, but he wants her all to himself. This is against the mores of their society, which prescribes communal sexual relations and proscribes monogamous pairing. Lenina is outraged by his request for monogamy. Any contravention of the societal motto of “Community, Identity, Stability” is regarded as a heinous offense.
Happiness is not an individual quest; it is a daily, community guarantee. Through early conditioning, people are educated to be happy for what they are allotted, with allotments made according to class, which is determined at conception. A drug called soma provides a haven from any temporary unhappiness.
Lenina and Bernard, on vacation, visit an Indian reservation in New Mexico that is a mixture of living museum and circus. There they find John, who was reared on the reservation by his mother, Linda, a woman from Western Europe. John later is revealed to be the illegitimate son of the director of the Bloomsbury Hatchery. As someone outside mainstream society, he...
(The entire section is 500 words.)
Places Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Places)
*Great Britain. In Huxley’s dystopian future, the British Isles are part of Western Europe, one of ten administrative divisions of the world supervised by resident controllers.
Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre
Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. Place where new citizens of London, the one-time capital of Britain, are produced. It has four thousand rooms. Life begins in the Fertilizing Room, after which cloned embryos are implanted in artificial wombs in the Bottling Room. Treatments administered in the Social Predestination Room determine the future status of the individuals delivered in the Decanting Room. The building’s upper floors contain the Infant Nurseries and Neo-Pavlovian Conditioning Rooms. The center includes pleasant gardens, where children are allowed to play, but their games are carefully designed to supplement their careful education. The hatchery is the core of Huxley’s sarcastic extrapolation of the principles of American automobile pioneer Henry Ford’s assembly-line production system and Frederick Winslow Taylor’s theories of applying scientific management to the organization of entire societies.
*Fleet Street. Real London street on which most British national newspapers were produced at the time Huxley wrote Brave New World. In the year A.F. (“after Ford”) 632 (the twenty-seventh century by...
(The entire section is 663 words.)
When Huxley wrote Brave New World in 1931 it was at the beginning of a worldwide depression. The American stock market crash of 1929 had closed banks, wiped out many people’s savings, and caused unemployment rates to soar. To make matters worse, American farmers were suffering from some of the worst droughts in history, leading to widespread poverty and migration out of the farming belt. People longed for the kind of economic security that Huxley gives to the citizens of his fictional world.
The effects of the crash were beginning to be felt worldwide, including in England, where Huxley lived. However much economic issues were on his mind, Huxley was also very much aware of the social and scientific changes that had begun to sweep the world in the beginning of the century, and particularly through the 1920s. Technology was rapidly replacing many workers, but politicians promised that progress would solve the unemployment and economic problems. Instead, workers were forced to take whatever jobs were available. More often than not, unskilled or semi-skilled laborers worked long hours without overtime pay, under unsafe conditions, and without benefits such as health insurance or pensions. Unlike the inhabitants of the brave new world, they had no job guarantees and no security. Furthermore, they often had little time for leisure and little money to spend on entertainment or on material luxuries.
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Point of View
Huxley tells the story of Brave New World in a third-person, omniscient (all-knowing) voice. The narrative is chronological for the most part, jumping backward in time only to reveal some history, as when the Director explains to Bernard Marx what happened when he visited the Indian reservation, or when John and Linda recall their lives on the reservation before meeting Bernard and Lenina. The first six chapters have very little action and are instead devoted to explaining how this society functions. This is accomplished by having the reader overhear the tour that the Director, and later the Controller, lead through the “hatchery,” or human birth factory, lecturing to some students.
Once familiarized with this future world, the reader learns more about the characters through their dialogue and interaction. For example, Bernard and Lenina’s conversation on their date shows how deeply conditioned Lenina is to her way of life and how difficult it is for Bernard to meet society’s expectations of how he should feel and behave. Throughout the rest of the book, Huxley continues to reveal the way the society functions, but instead of having the reader overhear lectures, he portrays seemingly ordinary events, showing how they unfold in this very different society. When Huxley finally presents the arguments for and against the compromises the society makes in order to achieve harmony, he does this in the form of a...
(The entire section is 992 words.)
Chapter 1 Questions and Answers
1. What is the World State’s motto?
2. Why is the Director leading the students through the
3. What is the year? When would this be, using our present dating system?
4. How are people classified?
5. What is the Bokanovsky Process?
6. How are the bottled embryos moved during their gestation periods?
7. Why are some females allowed a normal, sexual development? What percentage?
8. What had happened when the maturation process had been shortened?
9. How does the introduction of Henry Foster give a businesslike feeling to the Hatchery procedure?
10. What does Lenina’s reaction to the Director’s familiarity show about their relationship?
1. The motto is “Community, Identity, Stability.”
2. The Director always personally takes new students through the Hatchery because he is very proud of his position.
3. The year is A.F. 632; by using the date that Henry Ford opened the Highland Park, Michigan factory, the date is 2546 A.D.
4. People are classified using the first five letters of the Greek alphabet: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Epsilon. Alpha is the highest class.
5. The Bokanovsky Process causes the budding of one fertilized egg. Up to 96 identical humans can be produced. Only the lower classes receive the...
(The entire section is 302 words.)
Chapter 2 Questions and Answers
1. What is the age and social group of the infants being conditioned?
2. What is the first conditioning mechanism used? The second?
3. Why must the lower groups be conditioned to go to the country?
4. What words have become “dirty words”?
5. How is Reuben Rabinovitch able to repeat the G. B. Shaw
6. Why were early sleep-teaching experiments abandoned?
7. When was hypnopaedia first used successfully?
8. How often is each hypnopaedic lesson repeated to be successful?
9. The Director says that wordless conditioning is crude and wholesale. What reasons does he give for this?
10. Whose suggestions are incorporated into the children’s minds?
1. The infants are eight-month-old, identical Delta Bokanovsky Group babies.
2. When the babies first touch the roses and books, alarm bells, sirens, and horrible noises scare them. Then the floor under them is electrified.
3. The lower groups are the larger percentage of the population and must be conditioned to go to the country to consume transportation and sports equipment.
4. Words like mother, father, born, parents, and any intimate family relationship words have become the “dirty words” in this New World.
5. A radio was accidentally left on in Reuben’s room while he...
(The entire section is 285 words.)
Chapter 3 Questions and Answers
1. What are the only new games the Controllers now approve? Why?
2. Who is the stranger who appears and startles the Director?
3. Why is Bernard Marx upset with Henry Foster’s talk?
4. What has been advised for Fanny Crowne to relieve her depression?
5. What other name is Our Ford known by? When is this name used?
6. What does Controller Mustapha Mond talk about that shocks the students?
7. Why is Fanny worried about Lenina’s dating habits?
8. Why is Bernard shunned by most people?
9. What is the purpose of Lenina’s Malthusian belt? Why must she wear it?
10. What is soma?
1. Any new games must use more equipment than any other games that exist. People must consume manufactured goods.
2. The stranger is Mustapha Mond, the Resident Controller for Western Europe. He is one of ten Controllers for the entire world.
3. Henry’s locker room talk about women, the feelies, and sexual activity—and his specific references to Lenina—upset Bernard.
4. Fanny has been advised to have a Pregnancy Substitute for three months. It should keep her healthy for three or four years.
5. Our Ford was also known as Our Freud when psychological matters were being discussed.
6. Mond makes numerous references to words like mother,...
(The entire section is 353 words.)
Chapter 4 Questions and Answers
1. Where is Lenina when she tries to discuss the New Mexico trip with Bernard?
2. Why is Bernard embarrassed by Lenina’s conversation?
3. What is the difference in the way Bernard and Lenina look at the warm blue sky when they reach the roof?
4. When Benito sees that Bernard is in a bad temper, what does he offer?
5. What does Lenina say during the flight with Henry that demonstrates she is a true product of conditioning?
6. How does Bernard treat those of lower caste than he? Why?
7. What caste is Helmholtz? What is his job?
8. What does Watson ask Bernard when the two men arrive at Watson’s apartment?
9. What does Watson compare words to? Explain the comparison.
10. What does Watson quietly feel about his friend Bernard?
1. Lenina is in the lift (elevator) when she sees Bernard and openly talks about spending a week with him in New Mexico.
2. Bernard is always embarrassed by what he considers intimate conversations taking place in front of others.
3. Bernard remarks about the beauty of the sky. Lenina only sees it as a backdrop to play Obstacle Golf.
4. Benito offers Bernard soma. No one should be unhappy when the drug will bring instant contentment.
5. Lenina sees the colors of the lower castes. She repeats the...
(The entire section is 354 words.)
Chapter 5 Questions and Answers
1. In what type of housing are the lower castes? How are Alphas and Betas housed?
2. What is done with the dead in the New World?
3. How does Lenina demonstrate that her childhood conditioning has been effective?
4. What does Lenina ask Henry about as she is getting ready to sleep with him?
5. When must Bernard attend his Solidarity meetings?
6. How many people are in each Solidarity Group? How are they seated?
7. Why is Bernard unhappy about sitting next to Morgana Rothschild?
8. What ritual is performed during the First Solidarity Hymn?
9. How does the Solidarity Group meeting end?
10. How does Bernard feel after the meeting?
1. The lower castes are housed in barracks, while the Alphas and Betas are on the other side of a wall in separate houses.
2. The dead are taken to the Crematorium where the bodies are burned and any valuable chemicals are recovered.
3. As Lenina flies over the lower-caste barracks, she repeats the conditioned phrases about other caste colors being ugly and how glad she is to be a Beta.
4. Lenina tells Henry how much Fanny admired her Malthusian belt and wonders where Henry bought it.
5. Bernard and everyone else must attend Solidarity Group meetings every other week. His day is Thursday.
(The entire section is 290 words.)
Chapter 6 Questions and Answers
1. To what does Henry Foster compare Bernard?
2. What does Bernard want Lenina to do on their first afternoon together?
3. When Bernard and Lenina meet her friends in Amsterdam, how does he behave?
4. How does Bernard frighten Lenina during their return over the Channel?
5. What is the Director’s attitude toward Bernard’s trip to the Reservation?
6. What does the Director sometimes dream about regarding his experience at the Reservation?
7. How does the Director threaten Bernard for his reported behavior?
8. What are Bernard’s only thoughts during the Warden’s lecture?
9. How does Bernard react when he hears the Director has made good on his threat of exile?
10. How does the Gamma pilot refer to the Savages and the Reservation? What word does he keep using?
1. Foster calls Bernard a rhinoceros who has not been affected by conditioning.
2. Bernard wants to take Lenina to the Lake District to walk and talk alone.
3. Bernard sits at the ice cream bar and sulks, refusing to take soma or enjoy himself in any way.
4. Bernard frightens Lenina by dropping very close to the dark waves of the Channel and turning off the engine to hover quietly above them.
5. The Director does not want to give his permission for Ber-nard’s...
(The entire section is 337 words.)
Chapter 7 Questions and Answers
1. Why doesn’t Lenina like the Indian guide?
2. To what does Lenina compare the top of the mesa?
3. What shocks Lenina about the old man?
4. How does Bernard try to appear strong and brave?
5. Of what do the drums remind Lenina?
6. How does the new Savage appear different?
7. What about Lenina fascinates the blonde Indian?
8. Why is Bernard so excited with the answers the Savage gives to his questions?
9. Why was Linda segregated and shunned by the rest of the pueblo?
10. What can the reader infer Linda hopes will happen now?
1. The Indian guide says nothing and smells bad.
2. The top of the mesa reminds Lenina of the view from the Charing T Tower.
3. The old man is wrinkled and sagging. Lenina has never seen the real signs of aging.
4. Bernard talks about mothers, babies, and birth. He tries to act very urbane about what he sees.
5. The drumbeat reminds Lenina of the rhythms used during the Solidarity Services, especially the orgy ending.
6. The new Savage has blonde hair and blue eyes. He speaks to them, but his manner of speech is strange.
7. Lenina is dressed differently; she is fair-skinned, clean, and beautiful.
8. Bernard begins to realize that this is the Director’s child and a means to...
(The entire section is 244 words.)
Chapter 8 Questions and Answers
1. What is one of John’s earliest memories?
2. What do the women do to Linda in the weaving room? Why?
3. How do the women punish Linda for her promiscuity?
4. When John calls Linda “Mother,” what does she do? What does he always call her after that?
5. Why does John often turn to the old men of the tribe?
6. Why is John always in ragged clothes? What is his solace?
7. What book does Popé bring for John?
8. What does Mitsima teach John?
9. What does John do when he is denied the initiation rite?
10. When Bernard offers to take John to London, what does John ask?
1. John remembers being locked out of Linda’s room so Popé could have sex with her.
2. Linda had broken some threads on the loom. The women scream at her and chase her out.
3. The women of the pueblo break into Linda’s house, hold Linda down on the bed, and beat her.
4. Linda slaps John when he calls her Mother. After that, he always calls her Linda.
5. The old men of the tribe can use tribal lore to explain many things to John that are beyond Linda’s comprehension.
6. Linda has no idea how to mend or wash clothes; so John always looks ragged and dirty. He uses his reading as his escape.
7. Popé had found an ancient copy of...
(The entire section is 298 words.)
Chapter 9 Questions and Answers
1. How does Lenina handle the disgust of her visit to the Reservation when she returns to the guest house?
2. Does Bernard sleep? Why?
3. Whom does Bernard call from Santa Fe? Why?
4. What does Mond do when he receives Bernard’s call?
5. Why does Bernard treat the Warden the way he does?
6. How does John feel when he comes to the rest house?
7. Why does John break the window?
8. How does John handle Lenina’s clothes and make-up?
9. Does John touch the sleeping Lenina? Why?
10. What causes John to leave?
1. Lenina takes enough soma to sleep for 18 hours.
2. Bernard lies awake planning John’s trip.
3. Bernard calls Mustapha Mond directly to get permission for John and Linda to come to London.
4. Mond immediately sends permission for Bernard to take John and Linda off the Reservation.
5. Bernard feels very self-satisfied with his call to Mond and he has to flaunt his importance.
6. John thinks that he has been deserted and Bernard will not take him to London. He sits and cries.
7. John sees Lenina’s green suitcase and he must get in the room to touch something that is hers.
8. John handles Lenina’s things as if he were touching the relics of a saint.
9. John kneels at...
(The entire section is 231 words.)
Chapter 10 Questions and Answers
1. To what does the Director compare the Bloomsbury Centre?
2. Why does the Director choose the Fertilizing Room to meet Bernard?
3. Why is it important that high-caste workers are witnesses?
4. How does Bernard begin the meeting?
5. Of what does the Director accuse Bernard?
6. What is to be Bernard’s punishment?
7. How does Linda try to act toward the Director?
8. What is the reaction in the room to Linda’s revelation?
9. What is the reaction to John’s calling the Director his father?
10. How does the Director leave?
1. The Director calls the Centre a hive of industry.
2. The Director plans to make a public example of Bernard in front of high-caste workers.
3. High-caste workers are the most intelligent and the most capable of rebellious thoughts. This will be a lesson for them.
4. Bernard is self-important and self-confident, but nervous. He speaks too loudly at first.
5. Bernard is accused of heretical views on sport and soma, having an unorthodox sex life, and refusing to obey Our Ford.
6. Bernard will be dismissed from his post and sent to the lowest Sub-Centre on Iceland.
7. Linda tries to be the sexy, seductive woman she once was, but is actually a parody of what she once was.
(The entire section is 231 words.)
Chapter 11 Questions and Answers
1. Why does everyone want to meet John?
2. What is Linda’s existence now? What will eventually happen to her?
3. How does Bernard make himself more self-important?
4. How does society label John?
5. What effect does the visit to the Electrical Equipment Corporation have on John?
6. What does Bernard do during the visit to Eton?
7. What are the only books in Eton’s library? Why?
8. Why does Bernard want Lenina to take the Savage to the feelies?
9. What is the Savage’s reaction to the feely?
10. Why is Lenina disappointed at the end of the chapter?
1. John is a real Savage, new and unusual like a new animal in a zoo.
2. Linda is in a constant soma holiday. Dr. Shaw says that such heavy intake will kill her in about a month or two.
3. Bernard sets himself up as guardian and agent for John. Everyone who wants to meet John has to go through Bernard.
4. John is now known as the Savage—a classification instead of a name.
5. The Savage cannot stand the robot-like twins mechanically doing their jobs. He runs outside and vomits.
6. Bernard spends the entire visit to Eton propositioning Miss Keate. He pays no attention to the Savage or to the effect of the visit on him.
7. The only books are scientific...
(The entire section is 312 words.)
Chapter 12 Questions and Answers
1. What important person has Bernard invited to his reception? Why?
2. How do the people at the reception feel when the Savage doesn’t appear?
3. How does Lenina feel?
4. What is the Savage reading? Why?
5. How does Bernard cope with the failure of the evening?
6. To whom does Bernard try to turn?
7. What is Helmholtz’s situation? Why?
8. What happens when Bernard tries to interrupt Helmholtz and the Savage?
9. What makes Helmholtz laugh at Romeo and Juliet?
10. What does Helmholtz say his society needs?
1. Bernard has tried to make an impression by inviting the Arch-Community-Songster of Canterbury to his reception.
2. Bernard’s guests feel cheated and tricked. They came to meet the Savage, not to have to put up with Bernard.
3. Lenina feels hurt, empty, and physically ill. She thinks the Savage doesn’t want to see her personally.
4. The Savage reads Romeo and Juliet. He wants to see himself as Romeo and Lenina as Juliet.
5. Bernard blames the Savage for the evening’s failure and takes soma.
6. Bernard tries to renew his friendship with Helmholtz Watson now that he is an outcast again.
7. Some of Helmholtz’s rhymes have been about being alone, and he is in...
(The entire section is 260 words.)
Chapter 13 Questions and Answers
1. What does Henry Foster recommend for Lenina’s condition?
2. Because she is upset, what does Lenina forget?
3. What does Fanny advise Lenina?
4. Whom had John been expecting when Lenina visits him?
5. What does John do when he sees Lenina?
6. What does John want to do for Lenina?
7. What does Lenina try to do to seduce John?
8. What idea does Lenina find horrible?
9. What does John finally do to Lenina?
10. What distracts John from his murderous rage?
1. Henry recommends that Lenina have a Pregnancy Substitute or a Violent Passion Surrogate.
2. Lenina is so angry that she forgets to give an embryo an immunization against sleeping sickness.
3. Fanny advises Lenina to make a move and seduce the Savage.
4. The Savage thought Helmholtz was at the door.
5. John drops to his knees in front of Lenina.
6. John wants to perform some physical task to prove he is worthy of her.
7. Lenina embraces and tries to kiss John, then strips naked in front of him.
8. John wants Lenina to marry him and to live with him
9. John shakes Lenina, then slaps her and tells her to leave.
10. A telephone call that seems to be about something important causes John to leave the...
(The entire section is 203 words.)
Chapter 14 Questions and Answers
1. What is Ward 81 like?
2. What shocks and embarrasses the nurse?
3. In what condition is Linda?
4. What are John’s first memories as he sits at Linda’s bedside?
5. What disturbs the Savage’s memories?
6. How does the Savage react when one boy squeezes up beside him?
7. How does the nurse try to pacify the children?
8. Whose name does Linda speak? What does this do to John?
9. What upsets the nurse when the Savage shouts for her to come to Linda?
10. How does the Savage leave the ward?
1. Ward 81 is synthetically pleasing with music, aromas, and television. Everything is in bright colors.
2. The Savage says that Linda is his mother.
3. Linda is in her soma dreams, unaware of everything around her.
4. John remembers the Linda who sang to him and told him stories and, in her own way, loved him.
5. The group of Delta twins crowd into the ward for their death conditioning.
6. The Savage grabs the boy, slaps him, and makes him cry.
7. The nurse offers chocolate to try to distract the children.
8. Linda speaks the name Popé. This upsets John and makes him angry.
9. The nurse doesn’t want the children upset and perhaps deconditioned.
10. The Savage shoves the...
(The entire section is 213 words.)
Chapter 15 Questions and Answers
1. Why isn’t the Savage aware of the crowd around him?
2. How do the Delta twins react to the Savage’s pushing through?
3. To what does the Savage compare the Delta twins?
4. What does the Deputy Sub-Bursar threaten if the group doesn’t settle down?
5. What does the Savage do with the soma boxes?
6. Whom does the Sub-Bursar call? Why?
7. What does Helmholtz do at the hospital?
8. Why are the Delta twins truly upset?
9. How do the police subdue the crowd?
10. What does the Sergeant do?
1. The Savage is grief-stricken and remorseful over Linda’s death.
2. The Deltas are upset because their routine is upset.
3. The Savage says the Deltas are like maggots swarming over Linda’s body.
4. The Sub-Bursar closes the cash box and threatens to stop the soma distribution.
5. The Savage throws the soma boxes out the window.
6. The Sub-Bursar calls Bernard because he thinks he is the Savage’s friend.
7. Helmholtz pushes through the crowd to join the Savage.
8. The Deltas are the most upset with the soma ration being gone.
9. The riot police use soma spray and anesthetic-loaded water pistols on the crowd.
10. The Sergeant takes the...
(The entire section is 200 words.)
Chapter 16 Questions and Answers
1. When Bernard, Helmholtz, and the Savage are ushered into Mond’s office, how does each place himself?
2. How does Mond greet the Savage?
3. Why are things like Shakespeare’s plays prohibited?
4. Why can’t Othello be rewritten?
5. Why can’t a world of Alphas be created?
6. What proved that an Alpha society would fail?
7. Why are some labor-saving devices not put to use?
8. What is Bernard’s reaction to exile?
9. What event changed people’s ideas about truth and beauty?
10. For what does Helmholtz ask? Where is he to be sent?
1. Bernard tries to be as inconspicuous as possible. Helmholtz confidently sits in the best chair. The Savage paces restlessly.
2. Mond walks directly to the Savage and speaks of his discontent with society.
3. Shakespeare’s plays are beautiful, old, and wasteful.
4. Tragedies like Othello require social instability. Stability is one of the watchwords of this society.
5. Alphas would be unhappy doing menial jobs and that would breed discontent.
6. The Cyprus experiment proved an Alpha society would fail.
7. People must have a certain percentage of their days taken up with what must seem to be meaningful work. Labor-saving devices...
(The entire section is 253 words.)
Chapter 17 Questions and Answers
1. In the New World, where is God and where is Ford?
2. To whom does Mond compare Cardinal Newman?
3. Whose property does Newman say man is?
4. When does de Biran say man finds God?
5. When does Mond say man can be independent from God?
6. What attitude of society does Mond say keeps the wheels turning?
7. What has society done with what the Savage calls the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”?
8. When the Savage thinks of unpleasant things, what does he remember?
9. What replaces living dangerously?
10. What does the Savage choose?
1. God is in the safe. Ford is on the shelves.
2. Mond compares Cardinal Newman to the Arch-Community-Songster.
3. Newman says that man is God’s property.
4. De Biran says that as man ages and youthful passions cool, he finds God.
5. Mond says that when man has youth and prosperity for his whole life he can do without God.
6. Self-indulgence keeps the wheels turning, not self-denial.
7. Society has removed all the bad things and everything which is unpleasant. Life is too easy.
8. The Savage remembers Linda’s dying, and the mocking laughter at her appearance.
9. Violent Passion Surrogate gives an instant adrenaline rush to replace any desire...
(The entire section is 208 words.)
Chapter 18 Questions and Answers
1. What is the Savage doing when Bernard and Helmholtz come to say goodbye?
2. When do the two men leave to begin their exile?
3. What does the Savage plan to do? Why?
4. Where does the Savage go for his self-exile?
5. How does the Savage spend his first night at the lighthouse?
6. Of what do the seven skyscrapers that are floodlit at night remind the Savage?
7. How is the Savage’s place found?
8. What does the reporter from The Hourly Radio try to do? What happens to him?
9. What does Darwin Bonaparte do with his film of the Savage?
10. How does the Savage pay for what he sees as his final sin?
1. The Savage is purging himself with a mustard emetic to rid himself of civilization.
2. Bernard and Helmholtz leave the next morning for their exile.
3. The Savage plans to find an uninhabited place in England and exile himself because Mond won’t send him to an island.
4. The Savage finds a deserted piece of seacoast on the south coast of England near Portsmouth.
5. The Savage spends his first night praying and mimicking a crucifixion in the form of vigil.
6. The seven lit skyscrapers remind him of cathedral spires or pinnacles of the Southwest, reaching toward heaven and God.
7. Three Delta-Minus land...
(The entire section is 271 words.)
One of the achievements of Brave New World is the skill and inventiveness with which Huxley manages to create the technological trappings of his society. Not only Soma, the "feelies," and the Hatchery and Conditioning centers which produced the controlled population but also the little inventions like the games, and the names and the deification of Ford and Marx help establish a fully credible society; one which seems possible based on today's technology. Also, Huxley's world feels psychologically right and his characters more roundly portrayed than in run-of-the-mill science fiction. The governmental control exists and is for the most part effective but it is not foolproof nor is it absolute. Human traits keep seeping through, atavism is not yet eliminated in the genetically engineered future. Moreover it is a serious novel much different in tone from his previous ones. Brave New World carries with it a weight of ideas heavier than the novels of social criticism which made Huxley's reputation in the 1920s. The focus here is a warning for the future, a caution against the possibilities of central political control and unchecked scientific advancement.
The third most important broad theme of Brave New World is that of individualism, for it is the loss of distinctive individual characteristics which makes the society so deadening. One of Huxley's primary fears about science was that as it made life more tolerable physically, and humans...
(The entire section is 312 words.)
Ideas for Group Discussions
1. One of the obvious projects for a group discussing Brave New World would be to compare it to George Orwell's novel 1984.
2. Examine the novel for its prophetic qualities. In what ways did Huxley in the early nineteen-thirties anticipate things available now?
3. Also in what ways was Huxley overly pessimistic or optimistic about scientific progress over the last sixty years?
4. Huxley came to regret that he gave only two alternatives for his characters to follow within the novel, primitivism or modernism, and wished that he had made the choices more complex. How do we live today in that more complex middle ground between the two extremes?
5. How does Brave New World reflect the tensions of the times (the early thirties) in which it was written? What were the tensions of the time?
6. Huxley's novel has been described as a novel of ideas and not character or plot. Discuss how this is so.
7. What do you make of the ending of the book? What does Huxley finally seem to be saying about such a futuristic world?
8. The title of Brave New World is from Shakespeare's play The Tempest, which is about the discovery of the "new worlds" of the sixteenth century, primarily America. In what ways is the novel about the new world of America?
9. Think of all the ways a contemporary society can be voluntarily induced to "cooperate" with those in power.
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Aldous Huxley has been compared to H. G. Wells as a popularizer of science but unlike Wells who perceived science as providing the possibilities for a Utopian future, Huxley saw science as potentially a destroyer of humanity and individual freedom. Unlike Wells's The Shape of Things to Come (1933), Huxley's Brave New World is a novel in which human beings have been reduced to subservient automatons by an autocratic government using a wide variety of scientific controls from eugenics and postnatal conditioning to mind-torture and soporific drugs. It is a nightmare world of unreflective obedience to authority in which acts of rebellion are punished with a cloying coercion that seduces as it reforms. Huxley was more interested in the uses of technology for control than for liberation.
The appearance of Brave New World at a time when totalitarianism was gaining control of many governments around the world was not just happenstance. Reflected in the pages of the novel are many of the fears which were being experienced by many in Western Europe. Although much less warlike in atmosphere than the later novel 1984 (1949) by George Orwell, Huxley's book nevertheless contained a serious critique of authoritarian regimes, and raised questions not only about oligarchical power but also dealt with the questionable place of science in the achieving and maintaining of that power. Scientists, instead of being mankind's saviors, were portrayed as their...
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Compare and Contrast
- 1920s: Scientist Ivan Pavlov conducts behavioral experiments and shows that one can create a conditioned response in animals. John B. Watson, establishes the Behaviorist School of thought: he believes that human beings can be reduced to a network of stimuli and responses, which can be controlled by the experimenter.
1930s: German Nobel Prize winner Hans Spemann develops the controversial science of experimental embryology, manipulating the experience of a human fetus in the womb in order to influence it.
Huxley’s London 731 A.D.: All humans are cloned from a small number of fertilized eggs, incubated in artificial wombs (bottles), and conditioned as embryos and fetuses for their future lives.
Today: In 1978, the first human baby conceived in vitro (in a test tube) is born. In 1997, a sheep is cloned for the first time, raising the possibility of cloning humans.
- 1920s: Totalitarian rulers Joseph Stalin in Russia and Benito Mussolini in Italy come to power.
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Topics for Further Study
- Research Henry Ford’s development of the modern assembly line for producing Model T automobiles. Compare his ideas about efficient manufacturing and factory management to the Controller’s philosophy of creating humans in factories.
- Compare and contrast the values of the Indians on the Zuni reservation with those of the Londoners in Huxley’s novel.
- Discuss Huxley’s views of class as revealed in Brave New World, and compare his fictional class system with those of real-life societies, such as Victorian England and modern India.
- Research the scientific process of cloning plants and animals and compare your findings with Huxley’s description of the “Bokanovsky Process”; discuss the social implications of cloning.
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Utopian literature has long been a staple of western writing. Homer, Plato, Dante, Sir Thomas More, Jonathan Swift, Voltaire, H. G. Wells all wrote works which posited and sometimes demolished Utopian societies. Huxley's novel is in many ways the inheritor of a long tradition of such works. Its one radical difference is in his attitude toward the role of science or advanced learning within that society. For Huxley the future was ominous. If science remained uncontrolled and undisciplined by mature social and political wisdom, the danger was that ultimately technological advances would provide the unscrupulous with the easy means of controlling the mass of the population and thereby make totalitarianism an easily feasible means of government.
The second difference is that Huxley's novel is more successful as a work of literature than many of its predecessors. The prose is more distinguished and the psychological insight more sophisticated than works such as Wells's Men Like Gods (1923), or Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward (1888) or the writings of C. S. Lewis or Ignatius Donnelley. Huxley remains, for all his intellectual seriousness, still first and foremost a novelist in Brave New World.
In the past few years critics have more aggressively explored the notions of "dystopian" literature, the books (and fictional as well as non-fictional works in other media) which describe negative Utopias. Even H. G. Wells, who was...
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What Do I Read Next?
- 1984 (1948) George Orwell’s dystopian novel, was written after Brave New World and after the rise and fall of Hitler and Stalin. It paints a far more grim, violent, and oppressive picture of the future. Unlike Huxley, who wrote his novel before television began to appear in American homes, Orwell incorporates into his futuristic vision a role for television, an invention whose influence and possibilities, good and bad, were just beginning to be imagined at the time the book was written.
- Brave New World Revisited (1958) is a collection of essays Aldous Huxley published to expand upon the trends explored in Brave New World. In it, Huxley talks about the social and scientific developments since writing the book, and he reveals what he would change in the book if he were to rewrite it. Most significantly, he says in retrospect he wishes he would have incorporated some of the grimmer aspects of totalitarianism, which revealed themselves in the 1930s, and would have given the Savage more than just two choices, sanity or insanity. He would have allowed the Savage some sort of compromise, a way to live within a flawed society.
- Point Counter Point (1928) is a novel Huxley wrote before Brave New World, and it is considered one of his...
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Bibliography and Further Reading
Baugh, Albert C., ed. A Literary History of England, 2nd ed. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1948.
Boyce, Charles. Shakespeare A to Z. New York: Roundtable Press, 1990.
Cross, Arthur Lyon, Ph.D. A Shorter History of England and Greater Britain. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1955.
Engle, T. L., and Snellgrove, Louis. Psychology: Its Principles and Applications, 9th ed. Orlando: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1989.
Harrison, G. B., ed. Shakespeare: The Complete Works. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1952.
Hoffman, Frederick J. “Aldous Huxley and the Novel of Ideas.” In Aldous Huxley: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Robert E. Kuehn. Prentice Hall, 1974, pp. 8-17.
Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. New York: Harper & Row, 1946.
———. Brave New World Revisited. New York: Harper & Row, 1989.
Hynes, Samuel. The Auden Generation: Literature and Politics in England in the 1930’s. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1976.
Keith, M. May. Aldous Huxley. Harper & Row, 1972.
Locher, Frances Carol, ed. Contemporary Authors, Volumes 85-88. Michigan: Gale Research Company, 1980.
Macrone, Michael. Brush Up Your Shakespeare! New York: Harper Collins,...
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Bibliography (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Bowering, Peter. Aldous Huxley: A Study of the Major Novels. New York: Oxford University Press, 1969. Devotes a chapter to Brave New World, concentrating particularly on its themes of technological slavery and the limits of freedom. Includes substantial character analysis.
Firchow, Peter. Aldous Huxley: Satirist and Novelist. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1972. Devotes most of chapter 5 to discussion of Brave New World as a dystopian novel. Considers it as a satirical parable modeled on the Grand Inquisitor episode in The Brothers Karamazov.
Meckier, Jerome. “Debunking Our Ford: My Life and Work and Brave New World.” South Atlantic Quarterly 78, no. 2 (Autumn, 1979): 448-459. Examines the relationship between Henry Ford’s autobiography and Huxley’s dystopia. Huxley was alarmed by the parts of the American ethos that he thought Ford represented.
Murray, Nicholas. Aldous Huxley: A Biography. New York: St. Martin’s, 2003. Murray’s 500-plus page biography and intellectual history is a wide-ranging survey of Huxley’s writing and his social, personal, and political life. The book stretches from Huxley’s early satirical writing to his peace activism, from his close relations and friendships with Hollywood filmmakers and other...
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