Penguin Readers Factsheets

T e a c h e r’s n o t e s

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Brave New World
by Aldous Huxley

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irst published in 1932, Brave New World was instantly recognized as an important and prophetic novel that warned the reader about the dangers of science when it is misused. Set far in the future, in the twenty–sixth century, it depicts a society in which people’s lives are completely controlled by world government. Foetuses are created by artificial fertilization in test tubes and ‘parents’ are unknown. Society is divided into different levels, with each level performing different functions, and children are given whispered messages in their sleep that teach them to be content with their place in society. The ‘happiness’ drug, soma, is freely distributed so that unhappiness is never experienced. It is a society in which freedom has been sacrificed in favour of happiness and stability. Only a few individuals dare to question the society in which they live. Into this society comes a ‘Savage’, a young man who has been brought up in one of the few places in the world where people are allowed to live under natural conditions. What will be the fate of the Savage and the two brilliant young men who dare to befriend him? Will the Savage succeed in retaining the ideal of freedom that his childhood taught him? And if he does, what price will he pay?


Europe in 1937 to live in California, and spent the rest of his life there, pursuing his interest in spiritual and mystical matters. He continued to write in many genres. He explored the effect of mind-altering drugs and wrote two books, The Doors of Perception (1954) and Heaven and Hell (1956) that had a great impact on young people in the 1960s and 1970s. Huxley died of cancer in 1963 and is today regarded as a man who wrote brilliant and provocative ‘novels of ideas’.

From time to time a book appears that has something vital to say to society. Brave New World is such a novel. First published in 1932, this prophetic book remains, in the first years of the twenty-first century, astonishingly relevant to our times. As a teenager, Huxley’s first love was science; his near-blindness prevented him from pursuing science as a career, but his interest remained, and it is Huxley’s understanding of the directions in which science is likely to lead the world, that forms the basis of the novel. Brave New World is a vision of a future in which a world government is able, through scientific methods, to totally control people’s lives, from the moment of conception to the moment of death. Three principal scientific methods are used. The first is that of ‘genetic engineering – that is to say, the genes of a foetus are scientifically manipulated to produce a specific kind of human being, fit to work at a certain level of society. The second method of scientific control is that of ‘conditioning’ – young children are given powerful messages that teach them to think and feel in certain ways. The third method is the use of the drug ‘soma’ to induce ‘happiness’. In the novel, the World Controller for Europe, Mustapha Mond, tells the Savage, (one of the few people in the world who has not been genetically engineered) that these methods of control are used for the good of society, in order to ensure happiness and stability. And it is true that society in this ‘Brave New World’ is both happy and stable. The Savage replies to Mustapha Mond with these words: ‘But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness, I want sin.’ ’In fact, (says Mustapha Mond), ‘you’re claiming the right to be unhappy.’ ’All right then.’ said the Savage, ‘I’m claiming the right to be unhappy.’

Born in 1894, Aldous Huxley belonged to a very distinguished family, the most famous of whom was his grandfather, T H Huxley, an eminent scientist and writer. Aldous’ elder brother Julian also became a famous biologist and writer. But family distinction could not protect the Huxley boys from misfortune. Their mother died when Aldous was aged fourteen and at the age of sixteen, Aldous developed serious eye trouble which caused him to become almost completely blind. This did not prevent Huxley from pursuing a brilliant career. After leaving university, he became a journalist and by the age of twenty-five he had already published three volumes of poetry. He wrote a number of successful novels in his twenties and early thirties, including Antic Hay (1923), and Point Counter Point (1928), and was regarded as a witty commentator on contemporary society. When Brave New World was published in 1932, the novel was instantly recognized as an important work, one that had a vital message for society. During the 1930s Huxley became very involved in the peace movement in Europe. When this failed, he left

© Pearson Education 2000

(Definitions are based on the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. A low grey building. Thus. Then ask pairs to read their paragraphs aloud. most of which is under the surface of the water Chapters 1–3 Put students into pairs.’ The other half must support this statement: ‘An individual’s freedom is more important than his/her happiness and the stability of society as a whole. Write the following on the board for students to discuss: (a) Describe the differences between Lenina and Bernard. who was brought up on an American Indian reservation. Ask them to discuss the following question: In his descriptions of Indian life on the New Mexican Reservation. what do you think Huxley is trying to tell the reader? Chapters 10–13 Put students into pairs. These are primarily for use with class readers but. Ask them to write down what they think are the three defining characteristics of the future described in Brave New World. with the exception of discussion and pair/groupwork questions. Ask students to imagine that the Savage comes back to life. The Savage. But – and Huxley makes the point powerfully – the Ssvage has free will. it breaks. ACTIVITIES BEFORE READING THE BOOK Write the first paragraph of the book (see below) on the board. especially of sexual love. the author brilliantly poses the reader with a profound question. First a student from one side speaks and then the other. (b) What is your opinion of Bernard so far? Chapters 7–9 Put students into pairs. Chapters 4–6 Put students into pairs. school or institution Chapters 4–6 contraceptive (n) a drug. The other student plays his questioner.’ Divide each half into smaller groups and ask the groups to prepare their arguments. Ask them to write one or two paragraphs in which they: © Pearson Education 2000 Pu blis hed a nd dis tribut ed by Pearson Educ ati on F act sh eet wri tten by W S Fo wler Fact sh eet ser ies dev el oped b y Louis e James . Supplementary exercises covering shorter sections of the book can be found on the photocopiable Student’s Activities pages of this Factsheet. in which the class is divided in half. As a whole. Then have the debate. Over the main entrance the words CENTRAL LONDON HATCHING AND CONDITIONING CENTRE. insect. something that is mostly denied to the genetically engineered inhabitants of the ‘Brave New World’. Glossary It will be useful for your students to know the following new words. Put students in pairs. take a vote on the two positions. etc. One student plays the Savage. (b) describe London society from the point of view of the Savage. and is in its first state of development in its mother’s body fertilize (v) to make sperm join an egg so that a young baby or animal develops hatch (v) if an egg hatches or is hatched. His questioner asks him to explain why he killed himself and tries to get him to see that it was not necessary. of only 4 floors. ACTIVITIESAFTER READING THE BOOK Organize a debate. Then elicit these characteristics from students and write them up on the board until there is general agreement that the class has described the important ones. lived a life that was in many ways uncomfortable and unpleasant. IDENTITY.) Chapters 1–3 embryo (n) an animal or human that has not yet been born. and below that the motto of the World State.Penguin Readers Factsheets T e a c h e r’s n o t e s Huxley does not make the naive mistake of idealizing a life that is not controlled by science. or of belief in an idea or principle phosphorus (n) a poisonous yellowish element which starts to burn when brought out into the air propaganda (n) false or partly false information used by a government or political party to make people agree with them savage (n) an insulting word for someone from a country where the way of living seems very simple and undeveloped Chapters 7–9 mask (n) something that covers all or part of your face. can also be used by students working by students working alone in a self-access centre. to protect or hide it mescal (n) a drug made from a cactus plant that makes people imagine that they can see things that do not really exist naked (adj) not wearing clothes or not covered by clothes sacrifice (v) to willingly stop having something you want or doing something you like in order to get something more important sterilize (v) to perform an operation that makes a person or animal unable to have babies Chapters 10–13 crematorium (n) a building in which the bodies of dead people are burned at a funeral ceremony whore (n) an offensive word for a woman who has sex for money Chapters 14–17 compass (n) an instrument that shows directions iceberg (n) a very large mass of ice floating in the sea. to write a short paragraph about what the book could be about. and supplement those exercises. deeply–felt emotion. They are practised in the ‘Before You Read’sections of exercises at the back of the book. Half the class must support the following statement: ‘Happiness and stability in society are more important than freedom. the class then has to reach an agreement as to what the book is about. finishing with a paragraph written up on the board. letting the young bird. of anger. Ask students. (a) describe the Savage from the point of view of a typical Alpha. level 6 Chapters 14–17 Put students into pairs. using dictionaries where necessary. Communicative activities The following teacher-led activities cover the same sections of text as the exercises at the back of the reader. Is free will – the freedom to choose – worth the suffering that must go hand in hand with it? This is the question that his novel explores. come out motto (n) a short statement giving a rule on how to behave. STABILITY. using this information. which expresses the aims or beliefs of a person. At the end of the debate. Tell them that the title of the book is Brave New World and that the first paragraph of the story is on the board. object or method used to make it possible for a woman to have sex without having a baby obstacle (n) something that makes it difficult to achieve your aim passion (n) a very strong. COMMUNITY.

. (b) The crematorium chimneys have platforms around them so that people can inspect the chimneys. (f) Helmotz feels rather ashamed for his Bernard because ... Pair/group-only activities are marked. ADVANCED Activities while reading the book Chapter 1 1 Explain the significance of these numbers in the chapter. (c) Lenina has less respect for the lower levels of society than Henry does. (c) Do you agree with this statement? Say why/why not..50pm (h) 250 2 ‘That is the secret of happiness and virtue – liking what you’ve got to do. Lenina or Fanny? Say why. (d) Helmholtz feels lonely because . write down three things. (e) Helmholtz feels unhappy about his work because . 96 (f) 267 (g) 4... Chapter 4 Complete these sentences. (d) Which would you rather be: an Alpha or an Epsilon embryo? Explain why. do you think? (c) Would you like to take part in a Unity Service? Say why/why not. (a) Tragedies in Huxley’s life: (b) Huxley’s occupations: (c) Huxley’s interests: (d) Themes of Brave New World: the Director Bernard Marx 2 Answer these questions: (a) Who mentions a ‘Savage Reservation’? What do you think a Savage Reservation could be? (b) Who would you prefer to have as a friend. (e) In the Unity Service.Penguin Readers Factsheets Student’s activities level E 1 Brave New World Photocopiable These activities can be done alone or with one or more other students. Chapter 5 1 Are these sentences true or false? Correct them if they are wrong. (a) Bernard feels unhappy about Lenina because . (f) Bernard feels even more lonely after the Unity Service. (c) Helmholtz Watson and Bernard are friends because . people are buried after their death. twelve Alpha people meet and discuss politics. 2 Answer these questions.. (a) What do we learn about Delta children in this chapter? (b) Why are the words ‘mother’ and ‘father’ considered ‘dirty words’? (c) What is the principle of sleep teaching? (d) What are Beta children told about other groups? (e) What are the titles of the two lessons that the Beta children are given that afternoon? 2 Write the sleep instruction that you imagine might be given to (a) Alpha children. Under each of the categories below.’ (a) Who says these words? Who to? (b) What is the speaker giving an explanation for here? Give one or two examples of what the speaker means. Chapter 6 1 Answer these questions. (a) 632 (b) 37 degrees (c) 5 groups (d) 36 hours (e) 72. All our conditioning aims at that: making people like their unavoidable place in society.. 2 3 4 5 6 Activities before reading the book Read the Introduction. (b) Bernard feels different from other Alpha Pluses because .... (a) Who describes Bernard as harmless? (b) Who is determined to do things in private? (c) Who wants to be free to be happy in his own way? (d) Who thinks that Lenina resembles meat? (e) Who thinks that someone made a mistake when Bernard was in his bottle? (f) Who lost a girlfriend when he went to the New Mexican Reservation almost 25 years ago? (g) Who threatens to send Bernard to Iceland unless he behaves more normally? Chapter 3 1 Describe the relationships between:Lenina Crowne and the following people: Fanny Crowne Henry Foster © Pearson Education 2000 . (d) Bernard finds Morgana Rothschild attractive because of her eyebrows. 3 Do you think that methods such as sleep conditioning and conditioning (eg pairing electric shocks with flowers) are effective? Give reasons for your opinion.. Chapter 2 1 Answer these questions. (a) What do you think ‘soma’ is? (b) What is the purpose of the Unity Service. (b) Epsilon children. (a) In the society of Brave New World.

How do you feel about the death of the Savage? Write an epitaph for him. (a) The Savage has a telephone conversation. 2 What is your reaction to the scene in this chapter? Try and explain it. 2 Answer these questions: (a) Who is your sympathy with in this chapter? Try and explain why. Explain why. Then. (e) The Savage tells Lenina to go or he will kill her. Chapter 8 1 Linda is different from the Indians in the Reservation. (b) What do you think the telephone conversation is about? level 6 Chapter 7 Lenina is shocked and horrified by what she sees in the Savage Reservation. You are a witness of the scene between the Director. do you think? Chapter 11 Write two or three sentences describing the feelings of the following characters at these points in the story. Write a letter to a friend describing what happened. (f) Lenina takes off all her clothes. Explain: (a) what she does that angers the Indians and makes them feel that she is not as good as them. Chapter 9 Imagine that you are one of the workers in the Fertilizing room. (b) Lenina when she learns that the Savage won’t come to meet the guests. Write a summary of this chapter. © Pearson Education 2000 Published and di st ributed b y P ear son E ducat ion Factsheet written by W S Fowler F act sheet s eri es de ve l oped by L ouise James . Explain how and why they this happens. Activities after reading the book Brave New World is an important book because it has so much to say about what is happening in the world today. Linda The Savage Lenina 2 Lenina and the Savage both disappoint each other badly. 2 Imagine you are Linda. Chapter 17 1 Work in pairs. What do you know about Shakespeare? What effect do you think Shakespeare’s plays have had on him? (b) Why do you think Bernard wants to take Linda and John back to London? Chapter 14 1 Which of the adjectives below would you use to describe the following characters in this chapter? Give reasons for your opinion. (c) The Savage when he sees how unhappy Bernard is that he (the Savage) did not come to meet his guests.’ (c) Lenina leaves the bathroom. What are the differences? Are there any changes you would like to make to your summary as a result of seeing the other pair ’s summary? 2 Find the word epitaph in your dictionary. Write one or two paragraphs describing why you came to live in the Reservation and how you feel about your life there. 2 Answer these questions. 2 How does Mond say he will punish Bernard and Helmholtz? What are their reactions and what do their reactions show about them? 3 Imagine that you could have a conversation with Mustapha Mond. (g) Henry asks Lenina if she is ill. (a) Bernard when he learns that the Savage won’t come to meet his guests. (a) John has read The Complete Works of Shakespeare. do you think? Give reasons for your opinion. (d) Lenina discusses her feelings about the Savage with Fanny. Chapter 13 1 In this chapter. stupid.’ Discuss this statement. Chapter 10 1 Describe the attitudes that the following characters have towards soma and how they use (or do not use) it. courageous. Chapter 12 1 Put these sentences in the correct order.Penguin Readers Factsheets Student’s activities (h) Who describes the savages as having shameful habits and customs? (i) Who thinks the savages are amusing? 2 Explain what you think Bernard means by this statement: ‘we are infants where feelings and desire are concerned. a number of people become upset. join with another pair and compare your summary with theirs. (b) what the Indians do to show their anger to Linda and John. Chapter 16 1 What are the most powerful lines in this chapter. Explain who becomes upset and why. Write down what you would say to him. 2 What is going to happen to the Savage. (e) Helmholtz when John reads him Romeo and Juliet. Bernard and Linda. cowardly The Savage Helmholtz Bernard the Deltas Chapter 15 1 Mustapha Mond says: ‘We believe in happiness and stability?’ What are his arguments in favour of these things? How does he say they are achieved? Do you agree with him? Give reasons for your opinion. (b) The Savage falls on his knees before Lenina. (d) Helmholtz’s students when he reads them verses in praise of silence.

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