Introduction to Brave New World
Aldous Huxley’s dystopic novel, Brave New World, was published in 1932. It became an instant hit for the way it presented the futuristic world as amazing and stunning at that time when WWII was still not on the horizon and the people were technologically not as advanced as presented in this novel. On account of the ingenious presentation of that social fabric, the novel was ranked as the best English novel of the century. Huxley wrote sequels in essay form Brave New World Revisited (1958), and with his final novel, Island (1962). The story revolves around the World State where people have been put into hierarchical order after they come out of hatcheries and are graded on the basis of their functions and performance duly monitoring and surveilled.
Summary of Brave New World
The story starts from the Hatching and Conditioning Centre, located in London where its director and assistants are lecturing the touring boys. They learn about processes Bokanovsky and Podsnap used for creating identical human beings through the embryonic processes in which different human beings are produced in factories into separate castes of Alpha and Beta at the top. The Alpha takes up the higher positions in the World States and other positions go to other castes in hierarchical order. The last race, the Epsilons, are occupying the final stage at the bottom of the hierarchy for doing labor. One of the employees also informs the boys about the vaccination procedure. From there, they visit the Nursery and see the programming of the infants through different techniques. Such as the use of ‘Soma’ drugs to escape unpleasant experiences.
When the students come into the open, they see games and sexual acts where a World Controller, Mustapha Mond, delivers a lecture to the touring students about history, the State’s narrative, and the nation’s ideology. Simultaneously, Lenina talks to Fanny about her intimacy with Henry Foster at which Fanny rebukes her for becoming too intimate and not being promiscuous. However, Lenina also informs her that she has already met Bernard Marx, a short and funny-looking guy for an Alpha caste and different than his peers.
Meanwhile, Bernard becomes furious about Lenina’s mention in the conversation of Henry and one of the assistants. Engaged in work, Lenina then informs Bernard that she would be gladdened to have the trip to the Savage Reservation. Meanwhile, Bernard meets his friend, Helmholtz Watson, for having disenchanted from the World Estate on account of their shortcomings. When Bernard applies for permission to visit the reservation, he has to go through the rigors of listening to the director’s tales before winning it. The director becomes nostalgic by mentioning his own trip to Reservation twenty years ago with a woman who was never to be recovered. He also learns about his exile and reviles at it but then moves to the reservation.
When he is on the reservation, he and Lenina are surprised to see its aging population contrary to the youth of the World State. They also watch religious rituals going on and they meet John, who narrates the story of Linda, his mother having met years back. Bernard senses Linda associated with his director in the past and learns about her ostracization from the village because of her willingness to sleep with various men and her book reading habit developed by Pope, her former lover. When Bernard agrees to take John to his world, he also asks him to take Linda with him.
Then Bernard promises him and asks Mustapha for permission to take Linda back. All of them fly back to London where the Director is waiting to confront Bernard, but he brings John and Linda instead and forces the Director to resign. So, John becomes a big hit in the society of London on account of his alienated look. However, he does not fit well in this world and with Lenina. Although Bernard becomes promiscuous, John hardly touches Lenina who becomes confused over his self-control and tries to seduce him on many occasions but fails. Despite Bernard’s insistence, John stays reclusive and refuses to meet important guests. Bernard, then, introduces him to Helmholtz and others and ridicules the reading of Romeo and Juliet by John for these ideas being foreign to the World State and its existing cultural milieu.
Lenina soon takes to John, visiting his apartment and taking soma. She confesses her feelings for him and he reciprocates. Hearing this she offers herself to him but ridiculed by the promiscuity of the World state he curses by using the lines from Shakespeare. However, John rebuffs her every effort. During this time, he comes to know about the death of Linda while Lenina was in the bathroom. He, later, says goodbye to her at the Hospital for the Dying. John is left to meet the clones having their soma ration. He tries to raise a rebellion among them but only causes riots which attract the attention of Helmholtz and Bernard.
However, the police arrive and arrest them all to bring them to Mustapha Mond. There they hold a debate on the policies, leading to John argue his cause and Mond responding to his arguments. While John argues in the favor of art and religion, Mond rejects his claims, adding these are useless things. Soon he exiles Helmholtz and throws Bernard out, threatening to reassign him to Iceland. Meanwhile, John says goodbye to them and stays far away in an abandoned lighthouse to purify himself by starving and flagellating. This catches the attention of a photographer leading many sight viewers to visit John. Meanwhile, Lenina arrives at which John calls her ‘strumpet’ and whipping her and himself. He cries out at her ‘Kill it, kill it’. The intensity of emotion leads the crowd to engage a party in which John participates. At the final realization, he commits suicide for submitting to the World State after that.
Major Themes in Brave New World
- Commodification: The novel shows the commodification of life in that human beings are being hatched, brought up, taught, and eliminated as if they are commodities. When the touring students come to know about hatcheries, they also learn how they are run. Thomas is monitoring Hatcheries and Conditioning Centers where Marx and Foster have been born to lead others. Crowne and Linda, too, show commodified human beings. When John visits the World State, he comes to know the application of this commodification by the upper class to keep on ruling the lower class. The purpose of commodification has been shared by Bokanvosky’s process in which it has been ensured that the new generation conforms to the social structure they are going to live in.
- Dystopian Society: The novel presents a dystopian society where human beings have lost not only their freedom but also their independence. Emotionless, they are being marked in the D.H.C. assembly line. Even if they have some common sense, they keep it to themselves such as Thomas and Marx. Human natural conditioning and mental preparation have also created a dystopia where human beings have become subservient to machines and mechanical behavior. That is why Lenina fails in hooking John who questions this very culture of the World State.
- Utilitarianism: The novel shows utilitarianism through the efforts of Big Brother to establish the Hatcheries for human production as well as conditioning. The savage, John, who visits the World State, comes to know this mechanical routine and detests it. He thinks that Soma food does not fit human beings. Instead of appreciating, he rather berates it and debates it with Mustapha. However, John preaches that though this system utilizes human beings, it is not akin to nature such as taking soma to experience human emotions is unnatural. Lenina’s engagement in promiscuity and her suicide points to the absence of this natural element she could not brook.
- Misuse of Science: brave new world shows the thematic strand of the misuse of science in that human engineering through hatching and conditioning has created desired characters. However, they do not conform to the new ethical framework of the World State. The director briefs the student about the paid voluntary work and conditioning of the Alpha males. The characters of Helmholtz and Bernard Marx have been conditioned, yet they are independent in their thinking most of the time. When Marx does not conform to the standards set by the World State, he is exiled. Similarly, hypnopedia for children and soma food point to this misuse of science.
- Dehumanization: The novel presents the dehumanization of its characters through different strategies adopted by the political elite. Human engineering and scientific techniques have successfully changed the behavior of some characters, yet humanity emerges from Lenina who does not find peace or Helmholtz and Marx who do not conform to the existing rules. Although soma has done its job well, yet the use of Bokanvosky’s process has, to some extent, makes dehumanization possible.
- Consumer Society: The theme of consumerism is significant in the novel in that human beings in the World State are primarily consumers who are fed with specific conditioning and specific food, soma, in order for them to conform to the social fabric created by the World State. That is why John does not become its consumer and shows other characters independence of thinking beyond marketing mechanism.
- Human Emotions: The novel sheds light on human emotions that though they could be engineered, robbed, taken away, and even subverted, yet human beings have the capability to feel empathy, sympathy and realize the dearth of these emotions. That is why when Lenina does not feel soma resolving her problems, she commits suicide and Bernard Marx has shown his desire to control his emotions.
- Genetic Engineering: The production line of the Hatchery and Conditioning center shows that the genetic engineering of humanity and its threat to the natural life cycle is not a figment of imagination. The creation of Alpha males or even the best human beings as argued by Mustapha does not seem a far-fetched idea. The subversion of the thoughts of Lenina and Bernard Marx and the surprising arguments of John show that humanity is facing this threat now.
- New Totalitarianism: The theme of new totalitarianism is significant. It is seen through characters like Mustapha Mond or Bernard Marx, as they are being controlled by the center. The World State has produced a culture where individuals have lost their individuality. Thomas views this as an “inescapable social identity” of every individual that conforms to the social structure engineered by the World State.
Major Characters Brave New World
- Bernard Marx: Bernard Marx is one of the protagonists along with John as they meet during the trip of the students to the hatchery. His special task is to teach sleep learning. Belonging to Alpha plus class has blessed him to think independently, a feature that makes him unfit for the World State society. It is, however, attributed to his stunted growth due to alcohol addiction. His mental independence has given him a feature that makes him empathetic toward others. Most of his character traits show that his condition is not executed properly and that his indifference lies in this. That is why he does not enjoy taking soma and feels a grudge against Lenina for enjoying her life. He leaves the World State by the end after his meeting with Helmholtz as he does not seem to fit into the society where his life constantly faces threats.
- John the Savage: Despite his supposed savageness, John is an important character in the novel. He was brought up on the Savage Reservation where he has learned sympathy and empathy, his two manly traits. Despite his otherness in the World State, he seems supposedly unethical except when he comes to know about Malpais. He could not understand the promiscuity of his mother and the enjoyment of the Malpasian males. His poetic rendering stays with him despite his tour of the World State and giving priority to freedom and not reconciling with existing contradictions, he ends his life.
- Helmholtz Watson: The character of Helmholtz Watson is equally important when starts to involve in the building of a new culture through engaging himself in emotional engineering. Befriending Bernard Marx has given him a point to vie for his attractiveness and intelligence despite his efforts to rationalize his dislike for him. Surprisingly, he loves poetry and lashes out at the wrong cultural engineering at the World State policy though he has been brought upon in a culture different from that of John the Savage. When he helps John to throw away soma by the end, he is exiled from the World State, considering his assistance an act of rebellion.
- Lenina Crowne: A teenager of just 19, Lenina Crowne is a female character of the novel who is working in the hatchery as a technician. Despite her being a lucky figure in the World State, she is promiscuous and becomes easy-going with almost everyone. Being in a relationship with Henry Foster does not impact her. She often uses soma to support her emotional state and goes to the reservation to enjoy life with Marx. When John spurns her advances by the end, she disappears from the novel.
- Mustapha Mond: As the controller in the country, Mond presides over the administration of one zone to consolidate the reins of the government. He controls the people about their do’s and don’ts in this connection and knows what to put on the pedestal of sacrifice for the greater good of the state. Although he is a physicist, he loves to please the public by proving that history is just a bunk and nothing else. He has evolved his own concepts about different social and individual values and finally lets John go to his mother by the end of the novel.
- Henry Foster: As an Alpha male, Foster musters the courage to flirt with Lenina, though, he quits immediately sensing his own future going to dogs. His casual behavior angers Bernard who warns him after which he moves on with the conventions, not showing his waywardness.
- Linda: Belonging to Beta-minus class, Linda is another significant female character who has a savage son, has brought upon on the reservations, yet she works in the Fertilizing Room. Having become a prostitute, Linda shows her other side that she cannot tolerate the type of life. Not able to bear it anymore, she takes too much soma to take her life.
- Thomas: Working as a D. H. C., Thomas is well-known in his circle as Tomakin and only appears in the initial chapters of the story. He briefs the students about the working of the hatchery and its role in the World State. Having a pedantic persona, Tomakin keeps a close watch on rebellious people like Bernard to whom he dispatches to Iceland as punishment. He resigns after Bernard confronts him about John to whom he fathered on the Reservation.
- Fanny Crowne: A friend of Lenina, Fanny presents herself as a typical lady in the World State. She is not her relative, yet she has a strong impact on Lenina in ruining her life by asking her to become promiscuous. Despite her own conditioning, she advises others to go wayward which is rather a surprising thing about her.
- Benito Hoover: A minor character, Hoover loves Lenina despite belonging to the Alpha class in the state. His name signifies two great dictators of the WWII era.
Writing Style of Brave New World
The writing style of Brave New World is known for highly detailed and technologically loaded diction. The characters are conditioned to live in that technologically modified world where the use of emotions is considered an abomination. The overall ironic style is called a mocking style in which the most vital information is held to be disclosed quite late in the text. It happens not only in the case of Bernard but also in Lenina. However, in terms of language, Huxley is highly precise to the point of clinical accuracy. He knows how to use diction appropriately to convey suitable meanings. For figurative language and literary devices, the author mostly turned toward metaphors, similes, irony, and sarcasm.
Analysis of the Literary Devices in Brave New World
- Action: The main action of the novel comprises the whole life and growth of the political landscape of the World State as shown through Mustapha Mond, John, Bernard, and Lenina. The falling action occurs John could not brook the situation, isolates himself, and engages in punishing himself. The rising action moment of the novel arrives when Marx and Lenina visit the Savage Reservation and meets John.
- Anaphora: The novel shows examples of anaphora such as,
i. We slacken off the circulation when they’re right way up, so that they’re half starved, and double the flow of surrogate when they’re upside down. They learn to associate topsy-turvydom with well-being; in fact, they’re only truly happy when they’re standing on their heads. (Chapter-One)
The example shows the repetitious use of “they’re.”
- Alliteration: brave new world shows the use of alliteration at several places as the examples given below,
i. Government’s an affair of sitting, not hitting. You rule with the brains and the buttocks, never with the fists. For example, there was the conscription of consumption. (Chapter-3)
ii. “As though I’d been saying something shocking,” thought Lenina. “He couldn’t look more upset if I’d made a dirty joke–asked him who his mother was, or something like that.” (Chapter-4)
iii. But though the separating screen of the sky-signs had now to a great extent dissolved, the two young people still retained their happy ignorance of the night. (Chapter-5)
Both of these examples from the novel show the use of consonant sounds such as the sound of /s/ occurring after an interval to make the prose melodious and rhythmic.
- Allusion: The novel shows good use of different allusions as given in the below examples,
i. “Well, Lenina,” said Mr. Foster, when at last she withdrew the syringe and straightened herself up. (Chapter-I)
ii. “O wonder!” he was saying; and his eyes shone, his face was brightly flushed. “How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is!” (Chapter-8)
iii. He hated Popé more and more. A man can smile and smile and be a villain. Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain. What did the words exactly
iv. Did he dare? Dare to profane with his unworthiest hand that … No, he didn’t. The bird was too dangerous. His hand dropped back. How beautiful she was! How beautiful! (Chapter-9)
The first example shows the reference to Lenin, the second to The Tempest by Shakespeare and the third to Hamlet, and the fourth to Romeo and Juliet both by Shakespeare.
- Antagonist: Mustapha Mond is the antagonist of the novel as he appears to have tried his best to spread the domination of the World State by working as the Controller.
- Conflict: The novel shows both external and internal conflicts. The external conflict is going on between John who has been bred up in the natural world and other characters who have been conditioned. There is also an internal conflict in the mind of Lenina who could not brook this controlling atmosphere.
- Characters: The novel shows both static as well as dynamic characters. The young boy, John, is a dynamic character as he shows a considerable transformation in his behavior and conduct by the end of the novel. However, all other characters are static as they do not show or witness any transformation such as Mustapha Mond, Bernard Marx, and Helmholtz Watson as well as Fanny.
- Climax: The climax in the novel occurs when Linda commits suicide and John vows to bring a revolution to change the system.
- Foreshadowing: The novel shows many instances of foreshadows. For example,
i. A SQUAT grey building of only thirty-four stories. Over the main entrance the words, CENTRAL LONDON HATCHERY AND CONDITIONING CENTRE, and, in a shield, the World State’s motto, COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY. (Chapter-1)
ii. INFANT NURSERIES. NEO-PAVLOVIAN CONDITIONING ROOMS, announced the notice board. (Chapter-II)
The mention of state, slogans, and nurseries show that this is some modern state set in the future. Therefore, this is an apt use of foreshadows.
- Hyperbole: The novel shows various examples of hyperboles such as,
i. He was digging in his garden–digging, too, in his own mind, laboriously turning up the substance of his thought. Death–and he drove in his spade once, and
again, and yet again. (Chapter-18)
ii. The Savage nodded. “I ate civilization.”
“What?” “It poisoned me; I was defiled. And then,” he added, in a lower tone, “I ate my own wickedness. (Chapter-18)
Both examples exaggerate things as digging the mind and eating civilization are exaggerations.
- Imagery: brave new world shows the use of imagery. A few examples are given below,
i. Hot tunnels alternated with cool tunnels. Coolness was wedded to discomfort in the form of hard X-rays. By the time they were decanted the embryos had a horror of cold. They were predestined to emigrate to the tropics, to be miner and acetate silk spinners and steel workers. Later on their minds would be made to endorse the judgment of their bodies. (Chapter-1)
ii. There was a loud noise, and he woke with a start. A man was saying something to Linda, and Linda was laughing. She had pulled the blanket up to her chin, but the man pulled it down again. His hair was like two black ropes, and round his arm was a lovely silver bracelet with blue stones in it. (Chapter-8)
iii. A moment later he was inside the room. He opened the green suit-case; and all at once he was breathing Lenina’s perfume, filling his lungs with her essential being. His heart beat wildly; for a moment he was almost faint. (Chapter-9)
The above examples show images of feeling, sight, color, and sound.
- Metaphor: brave new world shows perfect use of various metaphors as given in the below examples,
i. Two shrimp-brown children emerged from a neighbouring shrubbery, stared at them for a moment with large, astonished eyes, then returned to their amusements among the leaves. (Chapter-4)
ii. Lenina did her best to stop the ears of her mind; but every now and then a phrase would insist on becoming audible. (Chapter-6)
iii. The rock was like bleached bones in the moonlight. (Chapter-8)
These examples show that several things have been compared directly in the novel as the first shows a comparison of children to fish, Lenina’s mind to a body, and rock to bones.
- Mood: The novel shows various moods; it starts with quite a dry and rocking mood and turns to be highly exciting at times and tragic when it reaches Linda’s suicide.
- Motif: Most important motifs of the novel, Brave New World, are sex, drugs, and consumerism.
- Narrator: The novel is narrated from the third-person point of view, which is the author himself.
- Personification: The novel shows examples of personifications such as,
John began to understand. “Eternity was in our lips and eyes,” he murmured. (Chapter-11)
ii. Pierced by every word that was spoken, the tight balloon of Bernard’s happy self-confidence was leaking from a thousand wounds. (Chapter-12)
These examples show as if the eternity and balloon have feelings and lives of their own.
- Protagonist: Bernard Marx is the protagonist of the novel. The novel starts with his entry into the world and moves forward as he grows and transforms.
- Repetition: The novel shows the use of repetition as given in the below example,
i. “Silence, silence,” whispered a loud speaker as they stepped out at the fourteenth floor, and “Silence, silence,” the trumpet mouths indefatigably repeated at intervals down every corridor. The students and even the Director himself rose automatically to the tips of their
toes. They were Alphas, of course, but even Alphas have been well conditioned. “Silence, silence.” All the air of the fourteenth floor was sibilant with the categorical imperative. (Chapter-2)
This passage from the second chapter shows the repetition of “silence.”
- Setting: The setting of the novel is the dystopian future country of the World State showing events of 632AF.
- Simile: The novel shows good use of various similes as given in the below examples,
i. The tropical sunshine lay like warm honey on the naked bodies of children tumbling promiscuously among the hibiscus blossom. (Chapter-4)
ii. Like the vague torsos of fabulous athletes, huge fleshy clouds lolled on the blue air above their heads. (Chapter-4)
iii. At Brentford the Television Corporation’s factory was like a small town. (Chapter-4)
iv. Words can be like X-rays, if you use them properly–they’ll go through anything. (Chapter-4)
These are similes as the use of the word “like” shows the comparison between different things. The first example shows sunshine compared to honey, the torsos of athletes to clouds, the factory to a town, and the words to X-rays.