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“Brave New world” by Aldous Huxley

The portrait of an imperfect flawless civilization


The world is full of tragedy. Hunger, war, violence, crimes and an endless chain of
sorrows, however, have you even thought of a perfect civilization? Happy and free
people who live harmoniously taking pleasure in a world filled with bliss and joy. A
utopia where pain and sickness do not exist at all. This is the “brave new world”
most of us have dreamed about, portrayed exquisitely by the humanist Aldous
Huxley who maybe not invented a new world, but probably was inspired by today´s

In this book, Huxley constructs a whole world in which technology and science are
more important than humans. He fantastically describes a functional new society
based in the essentials of industrialization. The humankind embraced in the path of
progress and success in which every individual is just a piece of the machinery.
Sum up in a few words by Huxley “community, identity, stability” (1932:5) are the
basis for a so called “perfect society”.

However, at the same time, the book itself is a testimony of what may happen to
humanity if it is focused too much in the pleasure and consumption rather than the
inner values. Furthermore, it encourages a deep reflection on our role as active
members of the society, not acting like a flock of sheep but as critical components
of the civilization.
The novel opens in London in the year of 2540. The world is not divided anymore
by countries, instead there is a unique territory called the World State’s. In this
Pangaea, there is no much diversity; just one language is spoken, just one religion
is approved (they believe in Ford instead of lord) and the heart of the society
resides in the development of technology and sciences rather that the development
of individuals.

The values within the society promulgate can be summarized in this fragment:
“stability. No civilization without social stability. No social stability without individual
stability.” (Huxley,1932: 31). The idea is that fragmentation in the society creates
vulnerable individuals incapable to think and to act. In fact one of the strategies to
break down the intrinsic arrangement of the society was to fracture the families,
taking control of the procreation process by opening breed laboratories in which
people were “decanted” with the only purpose to serve to the clockwork system.
This particular setting is essential in the development of the plot because it gives to
the reader many elements of an alienated world in which one may reflect and
contrast with the real world.

The second chapter introduces Bernard Marx, a psychologist who from the very
beginning of the story establishes certain feeling of reluctance towards the system.
He wondered about the lack of sentiment in everyone´s doing. He was concerned
about everyone´s acting like machines.
Afterwards, another character is introduced: Lenina Crowne, a woman who likes
Bernard, because she considers he is a unique man. Equally, Bernard feels for her,
consequently he invites her to a savage reservation, a place where time stood still,
a place where people still live in families, and there were diseases and pain, a
place like the world we know.
This happening has a strong function and connection with the development of the
story, in words of Honeywell “The events which make up the progression must be
related in the more general sense off all belonging to the same “world” or “reality”
(1968). It is because the savage reservation is the opposite of the “civilization”.
Huxley describes the reservation as a community of toothless natives, who
believed strongly in God and made rituals. They represented the opposite values of
the society. They believed in the family and they still had strong feelings as
community. In that place, Bernard and Lenina met Linda, a middle age woman who
once lived in the “new world” but in an expedition separated from the group and
had to stay in the reservation. Linda has a child, his name is John, a young man
who really likes Shakespeare and whose ambition is to know that “brave new

Bernard asks for permission for Linda and John to leave the reservation. As they
are considered “savages”, the travel to the new world is also a travel to the
unknown. As Honeywell claims, the modern novel must meet certain criteria and
one of the aspects he highlights is that “it must be sequential” (1968) Admittedly, it
is a logical manner of continue with the story while catching the reader’s attention
because in the previous events one could see a civilized man in the wild,
consequently one expects to see its counterpart: a “savage” living in the so called
“brave new world”.

In this episode, the struggle between man and society is evident. As John the
savage experiments a new life in an artificial society which fulfills all the
requirements to be happy. There is no need for individuals to think, the arts and the
sciences were abolished. “Everybody’s happy now.” (Huxley, 1932: 51). The
savage shows symptoms of illness, there is a strong moral and emotional conflict
between him and the civilized world. He believed in nobility, heroism and wisdom,
but all what society reflected was lack of morality, consumerism and pleasure.
Ultimately, the savage desperately to find a way out of the “system” moves to a
lighthouse in the countryside to purify his body and soul, “He pacified his
conscience by promising himself a compensatingly harder selfdiscipline,
purifications the more complete and thorough” (Huxley, 1932: 167).
Afterwards, something unexpected happens, as the savage is alone trying to
redeem his soul he is disturbed by curious reporters and citizens of the World
State’s, who feel interested for his living in hermitage. They want John to whip
himself for purification; it was a spectacle for them. John troubled sees in the crowd
of people Lenina, the girl he has always been in love with, but due to their different
ideology they could not be together. In a moment of excitement, John starts
whipping himself, and as Lenina approaches, he whips her too. In this moment of
intensity, the multitude starts an orgy, in which he takes part too.

This sudden event contributes in showing the reader that although John really
wanted to purify his soul, the civilization and modernization is everywhere and digs
the deeper hole in the mind of the individuals. It is very difficult to separate the
essence of the individual away from the society. At the end, John overwhelmed by
the modern civilization, powerless and miserable, hangs himself. Altought, it is a
very sad ending, it shows clearly the focus of the novel, which is that one as
individual has to know oneself deeply and truly understand what it is to be a human
being but not apart from the society, but as a part of it.


William Gass claims that “A great character has an endless interest; its fascination
never wanes” 1970, It is relevant in “brave new world” as It is a novel about a man
against society, John the savage is a fascinating round character. He was born on
the Savage Reservation, but his mother Linda was a civilized woman. One of the
most important aspects of John the Savage is that he is an outsider both on the
Reservation and on the civilized Brave New World. He disagrees with two worlds
because they are totally opposites, he does not find a balance.
Linda taught John the Savage to read, but, as long as they had few books on the
reservation, he has read nothing but Shakespeare. Trough the novel he contrast
Shakespeare writing with the “brave new world”.

John morality is superior, he respects freedom and wisdom. When he arrives to

London, he falls romantically in love with Lenina, he thinks about her, and
compares their love with “Romeo and Juliet” by Shakespeare:

“On the white wonder of dear Juliet’s hand, may seize

And steal immortal blessing from her lips,
Who, even in pure and vestal modesty,
Still blush, as thinking their own kisses sin.” (Huxley, 1932: 97).

After his mother Linda dies, the Savage turns more disenchanted with utopian
society. Technology and consumerism are nothing compared to individual freedom
and human integrity. And its nature leads him to go to a solitary lighthouse and
living as a hermit to face his destination.

The other characters do not develop during the novel, they are flat characters.
Bernard Marx is a character not satisfied with conditioned happiness who goes
through the story tiring to find his way in a society where he is not accepted due to
a physical difference. Helmholtz Watson, is a good looking man who shares his
thoughts with Bernard, he is also unsatisfied with his role in society. They both
play the role of guiding john trough his discovery.


The main idea of the novel is to portrait a sarcastic critic of the advances of
civilization. Huxley, by means of the art of fiction gives us a look to the future,
allowing the reader to peek how things would be. A glance of a future filled with
technical and scientific discoveries which attempt to provide satisfaction and
comfort to humanity, but affecting social and sociologic aspects.

Huxley, greatly critic the way in which contemporary advances are supplying
comfort, stability and pleasure but in exchange of human freedom and ability to
think critically, this aspect is portrayed in the scene when John talks with Mustapha
Mond, one of the world´s controllers as follows:

“Because our world is not the same as Othello’s world. You can’t make flivvers
without steel-and you can’t make tragedies without social instability. The
world’s stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never
want what they can’t get” (Huxley, 1932: 151).

Worried by the “civilized” world, Huxley wakes our concern, with this novel.
Enables the possibility to reflect upon our own lives, to think carefully what would
happen in this world if we consider luxury and pleasure as number one instead of
freedom and integrity.

Language technique

Huxley make use of a very scientifically and technical Language to describe the
“brave new world”. Words like “embryo” “decant” and “Fertilizer” are common in the
first chapter to represent the process in which new individuals came to the world.
Even tough, he included many references about History and literature.
For example, he used the work of Shakespeare as a bridge for John the savage to
the new world. In fact, the name of the novel “Brave new world” derives from
Miranda's speech in Shakespeare's The Tempest, Act V, and it is used for the first
time on the novel when John the savage knows that he will visit the civilization.
“O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave
new world! That has such people in't!” (Huxley, 1932: 93).

The whole novel embraces the figure of paradox because the earth was divided in
two totally opposite scenarios, the part civilized wealthy and functional, and the
part of filthy, freedom and disease, but there was not a balance among them which
is clearly a paradoxical situation.

The ending of the novel embraces the figure of irony because John the savage
went through the whole process, first he lived peacefully in the reservation tainted
to know the new world. Secondly, he could visit and discover all the elements of
the new civilization only to find out that it was repulsive and alienated. Finally, he
decided to live in completely solitude to purify his body and soul, however, the
people of the civilized disturb his hermitage, and drive him to despair, as a result
he committed suicide which is a total satire of what he really wanted.

Effect or responses

Brave new world is definitely one of those books you always remember. It is
extraordinary how the author catches one´s attention and open one´s eyes to
certain realities. I do not conceive it as “fiction” because many of the aspects
Huxley portraits are realities in my world: Clonation, industrialization, lack of
morality, etc. And I think, that is exactly what he wanted to do, he wanted to make
one as reader reflect, and rethink what is your role or position as individual, and
what can one do to change the world. Not just make part of it, but critically be
aware of everyone´s function in this world.