At a Glance
- Brave New World depicts a dystopian future where the World Controllers brainwash, clone, and pacify citizens in the name of "the greater good." This raises important questions about power, class, and social inequality, forcing readers to think about whether state interests are more important than individual freedom.
- Huxley took the title of the novel from Shakespeare's The Tempest, in which the naive Miranda is suddenly introduced to the world after years of growing up on a remote island. In her surprise and wonder, she says, "O brave new world, That has such people in ’t!"
- Aldous Huxley tackles many important moral issues in Brave New World, including: the dangers of technological innovation, the social and scientific implications of human cloning, and the threat that unchecked political power poses to the world. He intended the novel to serve both as a satire of modern society and a warning of the dangers that lie ahead.
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 dialogue between Mustapha Mond and John the Savage. The book ends with a sober and powerful description of John’s vain struggle to carve out a life for himself as a hermit. This is contrasted with the humorous, satirical tone of much of the book, making it especially moving.
Set in London, England, six hundred years in Huxley’s future, Brave New World portrays a totalitarian society where freedom, diversity, and conflict have been replaced by efficiency, progress, and harmony. The contrast between our world and that of the inhabitants of Huxley’s futuristic society is made especially clear when Huxley introduces us to the Indian reservation in New Mexico where the “primitive” culture of the natives has been maintained. Huxley chose London as his main setting because it was his home, but he implies, by mentioning the ten world controllers, that the entire world operates the same way that the society in London does.
Irony and Satire
Brave New World is also considered a novel of ideas, otherwise known as an apologue: because the ideas in the book are what is most important, the characterization and plot are secondary to the concepts Huxley presents. In order to portray the absurdity of the future society’s values as well as our contemporary society’s values, he uses satire (holding up human folly to ridicule), parody (a humorous twist on a recognizable style of an author or work), and irony (words meaning something very different from what they literally mean, or what the characters think they mean). Ordinary scenes the reader can recognize, such as church services and...
(The entire section is 5,859 words.)