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T e a c h e rs 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 twentysixth century, it depicts a society in which peoples 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, Huxleys first love was science; his near-blindness prevented him from pursuing science as a career, but his interest remained, and it is Huxleys 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 peoples 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 dont 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), youre claiming the right to be unhappy. All right then. said the Savage, Im 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

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Penguin Readers Factsheets

T e a c h e rs n o t e s
Huxley does not make the naive mistake of idealizing a life that is not controlled by science. The Savage, who was brought up on an American Indian reservation, lived a life that was in many ways uncomfortable and unpleasant. But and Huxley makes the point powerfully the Ssvage has free will, something that is mostly denied to the genetically engineered inhabitants of the Brave New World. Thus, the author brilliantly poses the reader with a profound question. 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.
(a) describe the Savage from the point of view of a typical Alpha. (b) describe London society from the point of view of the Savage.


Chapters 1417
Put students into pairs. Ask students to imagine that the Savage comes back to life. One student plays the Savage. The other student plays his questioner. His questioner asks him to explain why he killed himself and tries to get him to see that it was not necessary.


Organize a debate, in which the class is divided in half. Half the class must support the following statement: Happiness and stability in society are more important than freedom. The other half must support this statement: An individuals freedom is more important than his/her happiness and the stability of society as a whole. Divide each half into smaller groups and ask the groups to prepare their arguments. Then have the debate. First a student from one side speaks and then the other. At the end of the debate, take a vote on the two positions.

Communicative activities
The following teacher-led activities cover the same sections of text as the exercises at the back of the reader, and supplement those exercises. Supplementary exercises covering shorter sections of the book can be found on the photocopiable Students Activities pages of this Factsheet. These are primarily for use with class readers but, with the exception of discussion and pair/groupwork questions, can also be used by students working by students working alone in a self-access centre.


Write the first paragraph of the book (see below) on the board. Put students in pairs. Tell them that the title of the book is Brave New World and that the first paragraph of the story is on the board. Ask students, using this information, to write a short paragraph about what the book could be about, using dictionaries where necessary. Then ask pairs to read their paragraphs aloud. As a whole, the class then has to reach an agreement as to what the book is about, finishing with a paragraph written up on the board. A low grey building, of only 4 floors. Over the main entrance the words CENTRAL LONDON HATCHING AND CONDITIONING CENTRE, and below that the motto of the World State, COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY.

It will be useful for your students to know the following new words. They are practised in the Before You Readsections of exercises at the back of the book. (Definitions are based on the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.) Chapters 13 embryo (n) an animal or human that has not yet been born, and is in its first state of development in its mothers 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, it breaks, letting the young bird, insect, etc, come out motto (n) a short statement giving a rule on how to behave, which expresses the aims or beliefs of a person, school or institution Chapters 46 contraceptive (n) a drug, 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, deeplyfelt emotion, especially of sexual love, of anger, 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 79 mask (n) something that covers all or part of your face, 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 1013 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 1417 compass (n) an instrument that shows directions iceberg (n) a very large mass of ice floating in the sea, most of which is under the surface of the water

Chapters 13
Put students into pairs. Ask them to write down what they think are the three defining characteristics of the future described in Brave New World. 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.

Chapters 46
Put students into pairs. Write the following on the board for students to discuss: (a) Describe the differences between Lenina and Bernard. (b) What is your opinion of Bernard so far?

Chapters 79
Put students into pairs. 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 1013
Put students into pairs. Ask them to write one or two paragraphs in which they:

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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

Penguin Readers Factsheets

Students activities

E 1

Brave New World

These activities can be done alone or with one or more other students. Pair/group-only activities are marked.

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Activities before reading the book

Read the Introduction. Under each of the categories below, write down three things. (a) Tragedies in Huxleys life: (b) Huxleys occupations: (c) Huxleys 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, Lenina or Fanny? Say why.


Activities while reading the book

Chapter 1
1 Explain the significance of these numbers in the chapter. (a) 632 (b) 37 degrees (c) 5 groups (d) 36 hours (e) 72, 96 (f) 267 (g) 4.50pm (h) 250 2 That is the secret of happiness and virtue liking what youve got to do. All our conditioning aims at that: making people like their unavoidable place in society. (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. (c) Do you agree with this statement? Say why/why not. (d) Which would you rather be: an Alpha or an Epsilon embryo? Explain why.

Chapter 4
Complete these sentences. (a) Bernard feels unhappy about Lenina because ... (b) Bernard feels different from other Alpha Pluses because ... (c) Helmholtz Watson and Bernard are friends because ... (d) Helmholtz feels lonely because ... (e) Helmholtz feels unhappy about his work because ... (f) Helmotz feels rather ashamed for his Bernard because ...

Chapter 5
1 Are these sentences true or false? Correct them if they are wrong. (a) In the society of Brave New World, people are buried after their death. (b) The crematorium chimneys have platforms around them so that people can inspect the chimneys. (c) Lenina has less respect for the lower levels of society than Henry does. (d) Bernard finds Morgana Rothschild attractive because of her eyebrows. (e) In the Unity Service, twelve Alpha people meet and discuss politics. (f) Bernard feels even more lonely after the Unity Service. 2 Answer these questions. (a) What do you think soma is? (b) What is the purpose of the Unity Service, do you think? (c) Would you like to take part in a Unity Service? Say why/why not.

Chapter 2
1 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. (b) Epsilon children. 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 6
1 Answer these questions. (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

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Penguin Readers Factsheets

Students 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. (c) Lenina leaves the bathroom. (d) Lenina discusses her feelings about the Savage with Fanny. (e) The Savage tells Lenina to go or he will kill her. (f) Lenina takes off all her clothes. (g) Henry asks Lenina if she is ill. 2 Answer these questions: (a) Who is your sympathy with in this chapter? Try and explain why. (b) What do you think the telephone conversation is about?


Chapter 7
Lenina is shocked and horrified by what she sees in the Savage Reservation. Explain why. 2 Imagine you are Linda. Write one or two paragraphs describing why you came to live in the Reservation and how you feel about your life there.

Chapter 13
1 In this chapter, a number of people become upset. Explain who becomes upset and why. 2 What is your reaction to the scene in this chapter? Try and explain it.

Chapter 8
1 Linda is different from the Indians in the Reservation. Explain: (a) what she does that angers the Indians and makes them feel that she is not as good as them. (b) what the Indians do to show their anger to Linda and John. 2 Answer these questions. (a) John has read The Complete Works of Shakespeare. What do you know about Shakespeare? What effect do you think Shakespeares 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. courageous, stupid, 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. 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. Write down what you would say to him.

Chapter 9
Imagine that you are one of the workers in the Fertilizing room. You are a witness of the scene between the Director, Bernard and Linda. Write a letter to a friend describing what happened.

Chapter 10
1 Describe the attitudes that the following characters have towards soma and how they use (or do not use) it. Linda The Savage Lenina 2 Lenina and the Savage both disappoint each other badly. Explain how and why they this happens.

Chapter 16
1 What are the most powerful lines in this chapter, do you think? Give reasons for your opinion. 2 What is going to happen to the Savage, do you think?

Chapter 11
Write two or three sentences describing the feelings of the following characters at these points in the story. (a) Bernard when he learns that the Savage wont come to meet his guests. (b) Lenina when she learns that the Savage wont come to meet the guests. (c) The Savage when he sees how unhappy Bernard is that he (the Savage) did not come to meet his guests. (d) Helmholtzs students when he reads them verses in praise of silence. (e) Helmholtz when John reads him Romeo and Juliet.

Chapter 17
1 Work in pairs. Write a summary of this chapter. Then, join with another pair and compare your summary with theirs. 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. How do you feel about the death of the Savage? Write an epitaph for him.

Chapter 12
1 Put these sentences in the correct order. (a) The Savage has a telephone conversation. (b) The Savage falls on his knees before Lenina.

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. Discuss this statement.

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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