Brave New World Prophetic or Apocalyptic?

Prophetic: predictive; presageful or portentous Apocalyptic: predicting or presaging imminent disaster and total/universal destruction

A collision of cultures to shake our beliefs as readers

Brave New World Allusions

Allusions: references to history or literature

• A variation of Lenin -Nikolai Lenin, the Russian Socialist, who had a tremendous influence in the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the present-day Russia.

• An important figure in the formation of the World State. His utilization of the massproduction technique influenced social, political, and economic life. • In Huxley's Utopia, the life, work, and teachings of Ford are the sources of inspiration and truth. Even time is reckoned according to Ford.

Bernard Marx
• Marx is an obvious reference to Karl Marx, a German Socialist, whose bestknown work, Das

Kapital, expresses his belief that the fundamental factor in the development of society is the method of production and exchange. Karl Marx called religion the opium of the people; in Huxley's Brave New World, soma is substituted for religion.

Neopavlovian Conditioning
• Conditioning is defined as the training of an individual to respond to a stimulus in a particular way. The Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov conducted experiments to determine how this conditioning takes place. In Brave New World individuals are conditioned to think, act, feel, believe, and respond the way the government wants them to.

Benito Hoover

• Benito Hoover combines the names of two men who wielded tremendous power at the time Huxley was writing Brave New World: Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator, and Herbert Hoover, the American President.

The Malthusian belt: Thomas Malthus
• This English political economist believed that unless the population diminished, in time the means of life would be inadequate. Improvements in agriculture, he predicted, would never keep up with expanding population, and increases in the standard of living would be impossible. In the World State, mandatory birth-control regulates the growth of population.

• Predestination is the act of deciding an individual's fate or destiny.

• Both the Old and New Testaments contain allusions to God as the Predestinator, but since the World State has eliminated God, this is now the function of government. In the World State each individual has been predestined according to the needs of society.

• Since 1900, in any 10-year period, advances in science and technology have overshadowed advancements made during ANY previous 100-year period.
Periodic table in 1869 Telephone in 1876 Light bulb in 1879

E=mc2 in 1887
Germ theory of disease in 1890 Radium in 1899 Radio tube in 1905, transmitter in 1914 Insulin in 1922 Sliced bread in 1928 Jet engine in 1937

Huxley’s warning!
Huxley realized that these advances, which were welcomed as progress, were full of danger. Man had built higher than he could climb; man had unleashed power he was unable to control.

• Brave New World is Huxley's warning; it is his attempt to make man realize that since knowledge is power, he who controls and uses knowledge wields the power. • Science and technology should be the servants of man -- man should not adapted and enslaved to them. Brave New World is a description of our lives as they could be in the none-too-distant future.

International Political Scene
• Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, the dictatorship of Mussolini in Italy, and the Nazi Party movement in Germany. Concerned about threats to man's freedom and independence, Huxley realized that communism and fascism place the state above the individual and demand total allegiance to a cause.

Economic Changes
• A time of more and bigger factories, more manufactured goods, the advent of massproduced automobiles • Big business used and misused the individual - man became important as a producer and a consumer.

Societal Shanges
• More people were moving to the cities  change in attitude and point of view. As "one of the crowd," the individual is not responsible for himself or for anybody else. • Huxley carries this loss of individuality one step further in his projection of Bokanovskified groups of identical twins performing identical tasks.

The Movie

Brave New World
Persuasive/Exemplification Issues

• Spirituality in Brave New World is a mix of Christianity, the tribal beliefs of Native Americans, a non-denominational interest in the soul, a spiritual unity with the natural world, and a frenzied, orgiastic parody of religious rites. • One character believes his spiritual life is deepened through self-mutilation. • But in the mind of the powerful world leaders, religion simply isn't needed in a world of science and machines. • Comfort comes in a bottle, morality is taught in sleep-session brainwashing. In the world leaders' minds, God is obsolete.

Questions About Spirituality
• If religion is obsolete, what's with the strangely cultish Solidarity Service? What does this provide to citizens that they aren't getting elsewhere? • How does Brave New World present the rituals seen on the Savage Reservation? With respect? Disgust? How does this compare to the way the Solidarity Service is shown? • Did John learn morality from the Indians on the Reservations, from Linda, from Shakespeare, or from another source? Is John's system of morality religious in nature?

• Possible Issues: • Brave New World argues that distinctions between one type of religion or another are frivolous, because, at the end of the day, all religions serve the same purpose: pacification. • Religion is mocked in Brave New World as a less scientific form of hypnopaedia.

• Huxley wrote that the focus of Brave New World isn't science itself, but science as it affects people. The vision he paints of a technological, futuristic society is both horrifying and fascinating. • In a world where people are controlled down to their very impulses, emotions, and thoughts, science has the ability both to imprison (by conditioning, for example) and to set free (the frontiers of scientific discovery often lead to change). • Because of this, "science" is somewhat bastardized by those who seek to control; use what's useful, but limit what's "dangerous."

Questions About Science
• What's the difference between writing about science per se and writing about science as it affects humans? Huxley claims he did the latter and not the former: does that seem true? • Mustapha reminds John, Bernard, and Helmholtz that science is dangerous and needs to be muzzled, but also that it's useful if harnessed properly. Do the benefits of science outweigh the drawbacks in Brave New World? • Does Brave New World condemn science in our own world?

• Possible Issues • Science is subservient to human nature in Brave New World; tools like the Violent Passion Surrogate and the Pregnancy Substitute prove that science must cater to the needs of the human body because it cannot overcome them. • Science trumps human nature in Brave New World; tools like the Violent Passion Surrogate and the Pregnancy Substitute prove that science is effectively able to replace all natural functions.

Society and Class
• Society in the futuristic setting of Brave New World is split into five castes: Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons, with a few minor distinctions in between. • Because of the technology wielded by the World State's leaders, caste is pre-determined and humans are grown in a manner appropriate to their status; the lower the caste, the dumber the individual is created to be. As adults, the upper two castes interact socially with each other but never with the lesser groups. In short, class is yet another mechanism for stability and control on the part of the government. • It's also a big part of the reason that personal identity goes by the wayside in this novel – Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons are simply faceless drones in color-coded outfits who exist to serve the more intelligent Alphas and Betas.

Questions About Society and Class
• Huxley pretty much exclusively focuses on characters of Alpha or Beta status. Why do we get so little insight into the life of the lower castes? • Is Mustapha right in his insistence that a society of all Alphas would fail? What did you think of that "Cyprus experiment" discussed in Chapter Sixteen? • Do Alphas seem to be the least satisfied of all the citizens in the World State? If Epsilons really are happy with their lives, then what's wrong (morally) with making them that way?

Society and Class
• Possible Issues • The caste system is the greatest tool the World State has to subdue its citizens.

Soma is more vital to the upper castes than it is to the lower ones. Soma is more vital to the lower castes than it is to the upper ones.

• Brave New World explores the classic conflict between the individual and society. In this particular case, personal identity has been sacrificed for the sake of a common good. • A form of biological reproduction produces certain types of humans in batches – 96 identical copies of the same being. A social "caste" structure separates the citizens into five groups, the result being that a given individual is little more than a faceless, color-coded member of a larger group. • Certain characters in the novel grow uncomfortable with this idea, are downright disgusted by it, or for one reason or another find that they just don't fit the mold. They seek to understand their individuality through isolation and selfexploration.

Questions About Identity
• Think about the 96 identical Bokanovsky twins (and yes, we know, "twin" isn't the right word, but don't look at us, talk to Huxley). Is there any difference at all between, say, number 47 and number 62? • How do Bernard, Helmholtz, and John each seek to define themselves? Do any of them succeed? • All three of these men became aware of their individuality because they were somehow in isolation from the rest of their peers. What does solitude have to do with individuality? • In "Symbols, Imagery, and Allegory" we discussed animal imagery inBrave New World, and about the way that citizens have been dehumanized. But at the end of the day, are they more like people or animals?

• Possible Issues • Women in Brave New World are defined only by their function as sexual objects. This is the extent of every female's identity. It is only by killing himself that John is able to maintain his identity as a human being instead of an animal.

Drugs and Alcohol
• The drug in question here is soma, a hallucinogen used by those in power to subdue the citizens in Brave New World's futuristic, totalitarian setting. It is described as "the perfect drug," with all the benefits (calming, surrealistic, ten-hour long highs) with none of the drawbacks (no guilt, no hangovers). • The citizens of the "World State" have been conditioned to love the drug, and they use it to escape any momentary bouts of dissatisfaction. • The problem, as one character identifies, is that the citizens are essentially enslaved by the drug and turned into mindless drones. No drawbacks indeed.

Questions About Drugs and Alcohol
• Everyone makes a big deal out of the fact that soma doesn't have any nasty after-effects of say, alcohol (hangovers, guilt, shame, pregnancy). If this is true, why do we find its use morally reprehensible? Actually, does the reader find it morally reprehensible? • Why does Bernard seem to be magically immune to soma at the Solidarity Service? • Does soma make its users happy, or does it simply remove all emotion?

Drugs and Alcohol
• Possible Issues • The need for soma represents the failure of the World State to adequately satisfy its citizens. • Soma is the World State's most powerful tool to subdue and control its citizens. Without soma, even hypnopaedia would be ineffective.

Freedom and Confinement
• The citizens of Brave New World's futuristic society are in a constant state of imprisonment. But because they've been conditioned to love their servitude, no one seems to have any problem with this. • Well, almost no one. As one character so deftly points out, being happy all the time is its own sort of prison; being a human is about having the right to be unhappy. The prison bars are made of brainwashing sayings, of drugs and promiscuity, and not of iron or steel. • Because confinement happens in the mind, so too is freedom a mental state.

Questions About Freedom and Confinement
• What is the difference between natural instinct and the "instinctual" feelings that the citizens of the World State have been conditioned to feel? Is there a difference at all? • If everyone is always going to be driven by instincts – whether instilled by a recorded voice or by the force of evolution – can any one ever really be free to make his own choices? • Which character is the most liberated in Brave New World? • Come to think of it, what would it even mean to be free in this novel?

• Brave New World takes place in a controlled environment where technology has essentially eliminated suffering, and where a widely-used narcotic dulls whatever momentary pains may arise. It soon becomes clear, however, that suffering is a part of the human experience. • Without it, the citizens are somehow less-than-human. Self-inflicted pain becomes, for one character, a way to regain his humanity as well as a spiritual cleansing. God, he explains, is a reason for self-denial. • This is of course tied to the notion of an afterlife: denying the body in this life will be good for the soul in the afterlife. Christianity especially espouses this theory, as suffering for one's sins is one way to emulate Jesus Christ.

Questions About Suffering
• Why does John want to suffer? Is it for the sake of suffering, or for the satisfaction of relief once the suffering is over? • Religion is tied to suffering in Brave New World. John explicitly tells Mustapha that God is a reason for selfdenial. If you take away religion, is there any other reason for experiencing pain in Brave New World? • What is the general take on suffering in the Savage Reservation? Is this more or less reasonable than the World State's view on suffering? • Does John commit suicide to end his suffering, or to accentuate it?

• Possible Issues • Despite John's adamant convictions, suffering serves no purpose inBrave New World. • Inflicting pain on oneself is the only path to liberty in Brave New World.

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