In the novel "Brave New World" how does the author make reference to social criticism?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "Brave New World," Huxley questions the values of 1931 London by using satire and irony to portray a futuristic world in which the trends of Britain and America are taken to extremes.  Classified as a novel of ideas with characters and plot secondary to the expression of Huxley's social criticism, the novel abounds with social commentary.

One salient example of Huxley's satiric commentary on values is Chapter 5, Part 2 in which Bernard attends the Solidarity Service, a service used to reinforce what was instilled as a child--Community, Identity, Stability.  Much like a religious revival meeting, the members in attendance reach a religious-like fervor.  Hymns, chanting, and dancing--even a communion of soma--lead to an unholy final culmination of sexual orgy instead of religious ecstasy.  Of course, in Huxley's satire, he points out the deep-seated need of humans for mystic belief.  However, this need has been cleansed of emotion.  For, soma and sex have replaced religion.

Even in the New World, there is a social caste system with Alphas and Betas sensing and enjoying their superiority over Deltas and Episilons, with whom they have been conditioned not to associate. Also, the other Alphas ridicule Bernard who is different:  shorter and hairer.  Lenina faces social stigma as she desires to go with just one man, rather than be indiscriminate in her sexual activities. That the residents of the New World spend their lives involved in mindless and harmless entertainment is certainly a commentary by Huxley. Then, of course, all the members of the New World have been conditioned to scorn the Savage Reservation where people are dirty and age and have sickness--another social stigmatism.

Finally, the concluding chapters in which Mustapha Mond discusses the New World with John the Savage is very telling.  For, he admits to John that he loves much of the old world, but in order to be in control, things must be as they are in the New World:  Individualism is sacrificed for banal contentment without wars.