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 family, sworn enemies of the...
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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...
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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 regular calendars), the street is dominated by a sixty-six-story building whose lower floors accommodate the Bureau of Propaganda—encompassing Television,...
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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...
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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?...
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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?...
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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?...
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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?
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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...
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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...
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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?
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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...
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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...
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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?
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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?
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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...
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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,...
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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...
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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?
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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?
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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...
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Ideas for Group Discussions
Compare and Contrast
Topics for Further Study
What Do I Read Next?
Bibliography and Further Reading
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.
(The entire section is 261 words.)