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Brave New World
by Aldous Huxley
A satirical
piece of
fiction, not
scientific
prophecy
Satire:
• A piece of literature designed to
ridicule the subject of the work.
• While satire can be funny, its aim
is not to amuse, but to arouse
contempt.
• Ridicule, irony, exaggeration, and
several other techniques are
almost always present.
• Brave New World is an unsettling,
loveless and even sinister place
• “Reading Brave New World
elicits the same disturbing
feelings in the reader which the
society it depicts has
vanquished.”
What does this mean?
• Huxley exploits anxieties
about Soviet Communism
and American capitalism.
• The price of universal
happiness will be the
sacrifice of honored
shibboleths of our culture:
“motherhood,” “home,”
“family,” “freedom,” even
“love.”
• Mustapha Mond, Resident Controller of
Western Europe, governs a society where all
aspects of an individual's life are determined
by the state, beginning with conception and
conveyor-belt reproduction.
• A government bureau, the Predestinators,
decides all roles in the hierarchy.
• Children are raised and conditioned by the
state bureaucracy, not brought up by natural
families.
•There are only 10,000 surnames.
• Citizens must not fall in love,
marry, or have their own kids.
• Brave New World, then, is centered
around control and manipulation
• He instills
the fear that a
future world
state may rob
us of the right
to be
unhappy.
• time and
place
written: 1931,
England
• date of first
publication:
1932
• settings
(place):
England,
Savage
Reservation
in New
Mexico
• settings (time): 2540 AD; referred
to in the novel as 632 years AF
(“After Ford”), meaning 632 years
after the production of the first
Model T car
• narrator: Third-person omniscient
• point of view: Narrated in the third
person from the point of view of
Bernard or John, but also from the
point of view of Lenina, Helmholtz
Watson, and Mustapha Mond
• Happiness derives from consuming
mass-produced goods, sports such as
Obstacle Golf and Centrifugal Bumblepuppy, promiscuous sex, “the feelies,”
and most famously of all, a supposedly
perfect pleasure-drug, soma.
Soma
• People resort to soma
when they feel depressed,
angry or have negative
thoughts.
• They take it because their
lives, like society itself, are
empty of spirituality or
higher meaning.
• Soma keeps the
population comfortable
with their lot.
• Soma is a very one-dimensional
euphoriant. It gives rise to only a shallow
and intellectually uninteresting well-being.
It provides a mindless
“imbecile happiness” - an escapism which
makes people
comfortable with their
lack of freedom.
• Huxley seeks
to warn the
reader
against
scientific
utopianism
(impracticable
perfectionism)
• Creative and destructive impulses
have been purged. The capacity for
spirituality has been extinguished.
• Life is nice - but somehow a bit flat.
In the words of the Resident
Controller of Western Europe: "No
pains have been spared to make
your lives emotionally easy - to
preserve you, as far as that is
possible, from having emotions at
all."
Life-long emotional
well-being is not
genetically preprogrammed. It
isn't even assured
from birth by the
soma.
For example,
babies are
traumatized with
electric shock
conditioning.
Toddlers from the lower
orders are terrorized with
loud noises. This sort of
aversion-therapy serves
to condition them against
liking books.
We are told the inhabitants of the Brave
New World are happy. Yet they
experience unpleasant thoughts, feelings
and emotions.
• The Brave New World is a
totalitarian welfare-state.
• There is no war, poverty or
crime.
• Society is genetically
predestined by caste. Alphas,
the most intellectual, are the
top-dogs. Gammas, Deltas and
Epsilons toil away at the
bottom. The lower orders are
necessary because Alphas,
even when they take soma,
could never be happy doing
menial jobs.
• BNW is set in the year 632 AF (After
Ford). Its biotechnology is highly
advanced.
•Yet the society itself
has no historical
dynamic: “History is
bunk.” In this utopia,
knowledge of the past
is banned by the
Controllers.
• The Brave New World
is not an exciting place
to live in.
• It is geared to the
consumption of massproduced goods:
“Ending is better than
mending.”
• Society is shaped by a
single political
ideology. The motto of
the world state is
“Community, Identity,
Stability.”
• There is no depth of
feeling, no growth of
ideas, and no artistic
creativity.
• Individuality is
suppressed. Intellectual
discovery has been
abolished.
•Clones, the BNW inhabitants, are laboratorygrown and bottled from the hatchery.
•They are conditioned and brainwashed, even
in their sleep. They are never educated to
prize thinking for themselves.
• This novel is more applicable today than
it was in 1932. This is a time of:
propaganda,
censorship,
conformity, genetic
engineering, social
conditioning, and
mindless
entertainment.
• This was what Huxley
saw in our future. His
book is a warning.
Essential Questions to connect
the literature to today’s culture:
• Is it better to be free than to be happy?
• Is freedom compatible with happiness?
• Is the collective more important than the
individual?
• Can children be taught effectively to think in
only one certain way?
• Can young people be taught so well that they
never question their teachings later?
• Is stability more important than freedom?
• Can alterations made by advanced science to
mankind be made permanent at the DNAlevel?
• Can mankind be conditioned by science?
• Should the individual be limited/controlled for
the greater good? If so, how much?
“Universal happiness
keeps the wheels steadily turning;
truth and beauty can’t.” Aldous Huxley
Now let’s get
into the text!