Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

It is the year 632 After Ford and "stability" is the primary aim of the World State and the ideal society it has created. In laboratories worldwide, genetic science has brought the human race to perfection. People are bred and conditioned to be blissfully content with their role in society and permanently happy. But, in Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, Bernard Marx is unhappy and harbours an unnatural desire to break free.

The novel Brave New World has been published in 1932 by the English writer Aldous Huxley. He created a dystopia by using the idea of modern technology and by building up a futuristic world where science controls everything. However, the author doesn't just mean to write about an imagined society where everything is unpleasant and bad. He wanted to team his dystopian idea with a bit of satire by making fun of the dangers technology brings along. It's impressive in how far the English novelist, who published this book in 1932, was aware of the perils we have and will deal with in our near future. Huxley believed that literature should be a warning, he was concerned with the dangers of modern, industrial society.

I had to read this book in school and have to admit that it was a complex read for me. The author uses a sophisticated vocabulary and some parts are hard to understand. To sum up it can be said that the novel is very meaningful and interesting especially because it gives you a completely different view concerning all the technical stuff.


Who's who

Thomas / Tomakin / The Director

  • director of the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre
  • Alpha, he is intelligent and very orthodox
  • he dislikes Bernard's individualism and wants to punish him for it
  • loses his job because of the scandal of Linda and John

Bernard Marx

  • Alpha, but doesn't have the physical appearance of his social class
  • has a poor reputation: he's very small (Alcohol rumor)
  • he's highly intelligent
  • psychologist, writes slogans for hypnopaedia
  • low self-esteem: body language, looks down when he walks, no contact with others, not secure with his own authority
  • depressed, looks sad, melancholy
  • shy (talk with Lenina in public)
  • misfit outsider: he thinks differently, Lenina is not just meat for him
  • he has emotions: he is blushed when they talk about the date in public, wants privacy
  • he has access to the savage reservation (psychologist)
  • he is one of the best in his job, only cause why he is still there
  • becomes paranoid: speech with Helmholtz
  • incomplete conditioning

Lenina Crowne

  • beautiful and sexually liberated Beta
  • popular, happy and well-conditioned
  • uses soma to suppress unwelcome emotions (soma-holiday at Reservation)
  • feels attracted to Bernard but finds him weird at the same time

Mustapha Mond

  • world controller
  • very intelligent
  • believes that it is all worth for social stability
  • defends the totalitarianism: only way to achieve social stability

Helmholtz Watson

  • prototypical Alpha-Plus
  • has a surplus of intelligence, makes him question things
  • conditioning didn't work really good
  • professor, writes slogans
  • friend with Bernard: they share the knowledge that they were individuals

John the Savage

  • son of the Director and Linda
  • outsider, both in the Reservation and in Brave New World: he's white, his mother is a loose woman
  • quotes a lot from Shakespear's works
  • he's a very moral person, very naive
  • he falls romantically in love with Lenina

Linda

  • Beta minus
  • left behind in the Reservation while she was pregnant
  • she missed soma
  • has become old and fat
  • she feels like an outsider in the Reservation
  • she missed the comforts of Brave New World

Henry Foster

  • a young, cheerful, conventional Alpha male
  • he's a scientist, a statistician and assistant to the Director
  • he's one of Lenina's ex-lovers

Types of conditioning used in Brave New World

  • Neo-Pavlovian Conditioning:
    Based on the experiment of Ivan Pavlov with the Pavlovian dog. Though conditioning, you can condition a stimulus to produce a certain reaction.
    In Brave New World: at the beginning the sight of roses and books causes delight. After the electric shocks and the loud noise the babies are in fear. When they see the roses and books again, they are anxious and want to take flight. This is the conditioned reaction.
    The aim in Brave New World is to program people's reactions to certain things, their behaviour. It's because of this type of conditioning that the inhabitants are for instance happy with their jobs and don't wants to do something different.
  • Hypnopaedia (sleep-teaching):
    The aim in Brave New World is to make people love their social class, so they don't want to climb up to a higher one. This works best with Deltas and Epsilons because the higher classes are more intelligent and people might question what they have learnt. Hypnopaedia is used to condition people's attitudes and their thoughts.

Huxley's main targets of satire

  • "I do love new clothes": extreme consumerism
  • "The Bokanovsky groups": mass-production and new findings in the fields of genetics have been applied to to the production of humans
  • "Neo-Pavlovian Conditioning": new findings in psychology (Pavlov) can become means of manipulation, brain washing
  • "I'm really awfully glad I'm a Beta": different social classes have become a rigid caste system that is inescapable

The new gods in Brave New World

  • Henry Ford:
    Anno Fordi, our Ford, his Fordship, symbol of Ford is a "T" (Ford T model, first mass-produced car)
    Huxley uses the phonetic resemblance to make the new god seem familiar to the readers
  • Sigmund Freud:
    Founder of psychoanalysis: sexuality is often repressed in children, so it leads to neurosis in adults. "Appoling dangers of family life" causing "perversion, madness and suicide" (Mustapha Mond, chapter 3) is based on Freud's theory of the Oedipus complex. The child cannot endure these feelings and represses them, so Brave New World lays great stress on erotic play for children, eliminates the danger of family life and supports complete promiscuity.

The worlds collide

Savage World VS Brave New World

Bernard is having a hard time dealing with the reality of the Reservation. How can there be two worlds in coexistence?

  • families, mothers, fathers - babies are artificially made, no relationships
    between people
  • real feelings for a single partner - promiscuity, people are supposed to have several sexual partners
  • dirt, decay, rags - sterile, clean, new, fresh, good smells
  • old age, wrinkles, bad teeth, diseases - people are kept young artificially
  • mescal - soma
  • real emotions (courage, violence, jealousy) - only superficial happiness
  • real music - synthetic music
  • real knowledge, definite answers by old Indians - very limited knowledge (Linda), only so they can function
  • different religions, Gods - Ford
  • natural births, nursing mothers - decanting of babies