Full Title · Brave New World
Author · Aldous Huxley
Type Of Work · Novel
Genre · utopian novel, dystopian novel, science fiction
Language · English
Time And Place Written · 1931, England
Date Of First Publication · 1932
Publisher · Chatto and Windus, London
Narrator · Third-person omniscient; the narrator frequently makes
passages of “objective” description sound like the speech or thought
patterns of a particular character, using a technique usually called “free
Climax · John incites a riot in the hospital in Chapter 15.
Protagonists · Bernard Marx, Helmholtz Watson, and John
Antagonist · Mustapha Mond
Settings (Time) · 2540 a.d.; referred to in the novel as 632 years “After
Ford,” meaning 632 years after the production of the first Model T car.
Settings (Place) · England, Savage Reservation in New Mexico
Point Of View · Narrated in the third person, primarily from the point of
view of Bernard or John but also from the point of view of Lenina, Helmholtz
Watson, and Mustapha Mond.
Falling Action · Chapter 18, in which John isolates himself in a lighthouse
and punishes himself; it ends with an orgy and his suicide.
Tense · Past
Foreshadowing · The director’s memories of his trip to the Reservation
foreshadow his relationship to John and Linda; Bernard’s insecurities and
dissatisfactions foreshadow his exile; John’s longing to sacrifice himself
foreshadow his suicide.
Tone · initially sardonic and detached; later, despairing and sympathetic.
Themes · The use of technology to control society, the incompatibility of
happiness and truth, the dangers of an all-powerful state
Motifs · Alienation, sex, Shakespeare
Symbols · The drug soma is a symbol of the use of instant gratification to
control the World State’s populace. It is also a symbol of the powerful
influence of science and technology on society.
The novel opens in the Central London Hatching and Conditioning Centre, where the
Director of the Hatchery and one of his assistants, Henry Foster, are giving a tour to a
group of boys. The boys learn about the Bokanovsky and Podsnap Processes that allow
the Hatchery to produce thousands of nearly identical human embryos. During the
gestation period the embryos travel in bottles along a conveyor belt through a factorylike
building, and are conditioned to belong to one of five castes: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta,
or Epsilon. The Alpha embryos are destined to become the leaders and thinkers of the
World State. Each of the succeeding castes is conditioned to be slightly less physically and
intellectually impressive. The Epsilons, stunted and stupefied by oxygen deprivation and
chemical treatments, are destined to perform menial labor. Lenina Crowne, an employee
at the factory, describes to the boys how she vaccinates embryos destined for tropical
The Director then leads the boys to the Nursery, where they observe a group of Delta
infants being reprogrammed to dislike books and flowers. The Director explains that this
conditioning helps to make Deltas docile and eager consumers. He then tells the boys
about the “hypnopaedic” (sleep-teaching) methods used to teach children the morals of
the World State. In a room where older children are napping, a whispering voice is heard
repeating a lesson in “Elementary Class Consciousness.”
Outside, the Director shows the boys hundreds of naked children engaged in sexual play
and games like “Centrifugal Bumble-puppy.” Mustapha Mond, one of the ten World
Controllers, introduces himself to the boys and begins to explain the history of the World
State, focusing on the State’s successful efforts to remove strong emotions, desires, and
human relationships from society. Meanwhile, inside the Hatchery, Lenina chats in the
bathroom with Fanny Crowne about her relationship with Henry Foster. Fanny chides
Lenina for going out with Henry almost exclusively for four months, and Lenina admits she
is attracted to the strange, somewhat funny-looking Bernard Marx. In another part of the
Hatchery, Bernard is enraged when he overhears a conversation between Henry and the
Assistant Predestinator about “having” Lenina.
After work, Lenina tells Bernard that she would be happy to accompany him on the trip to
the Savage Reservation in New Mexico to which he had invited her. Bernard, overjoyed but
embarrassed, flies a helicopter to meet a friend of his, Helmholtz Watson. He and
Helmholtz discuss their dissatisfaction with the World State. Bernard is primarily
disgruntled because he is too small and weak for his caste; Helmholtz is unhappy because
he is too intelligent for his job writing hypnopaedic phrases. In the next few days, Bernard
asks his superior, the Director, for permission to visit the Reservation. The Director
launches into a story about a visit to the Reservation he had made with a woman twenty
years earlier. During a storm, he tells Bernard, the woman was lost and never recovered.
Finally, he gives Bernard the permit, and Bernard and Lenina depart for the Reservation,
where they get another permit from the Warden. Before heading into the Reservation,
Bernard calls Helmholtz and learns that the Director has grown weary of what he sees as
Bernard’s difficult and unsocial behavior and is planning to exile Bernard to Iceland when
he returns. Bernard is angry and distraught, but decides to head into the Reservation
On the Reservation, Lenina and Bernard are shocked to see its aged and ill residents; no
one in the World State has visible signs of aging. They witness a religious ritual in which a
young man is whipped, and find it abhorrent. After the ritual they meet John, a fair-
skinned young man who is isolated from the rest of the village. John tells Bernard about
his childhood as the son of a woman named Linda who was rescued by the villagers some
twenty years ago. Bernard realizes that Linda is almost certainly the woman mentioned by
the Director. Talking to John, he learns that Linda was ostracized because of her
willingness to sleep with all the men in the village, and that as a result John was raised in
isolation from the rest of the village. John explains that he learned to read using a book
called The Chemical and Bacteriological Conditioning of the Embryo and The Complete
Works of Shakespeare, the latter given to Linda by one of her lovers, Popé. John tells
Bernard that he is eager to see the “Other Place”—the “brave new world” that his mother
has told him so much about. Bernard invites him to return to the World State with him.
John agrees but insists that Linda be allowed to come as well.
While Lenina, disgusted with the Reservation, takes enough soma to knock her out for
eighteen hours, Bernard flies to Santa Fe where he calls Mustapha Mond and receives
permission to bring John and Linda back to the World State. Meanwhile, John breaks into
the house where Lenina is lying intoxicated and unconscious, and barely suppresses his
desire to touch her. Bernard, Lenina, John, and Linda fly to the World State, where the
Director is waiting to exile Bernard in front of his Alpha coworkers. But Bernard turns the
tables by introducing John and Linda. The shame of being a “father”—the very word
makes the onlookers laugh nervously—causes the Director to resign, leaving Bernard free
to remain in London.
John becomes a hit with London society because of his strange life led on the Reservation.
But while touring the factories and schools of the World State, John becomes increasingly
disturbed by the society that he sees. His sexual attraction to Lenina remains, but he
desires more than simple lust, and he finds himself terribly confused. In the process, he
also confuses Lenina, who wonders why John does not wish to have sex with her. As the
discoverer and guardian of the “Savage,” Bernard also becomes popular. He quickly takes
advantage of his new status, sleeping with many women and hosting dinner parties with
important guests, most of whom dislike Bernard but are willing to placate him if it means
they get to meet John. One night John refuses to meet the guests, including the Arch-
Community Songster, and Bernard’s social standing plummets.
After Bernard introduces them, John and Helmholtz quickly take to each other. John reads
Helmholtz parts of Romeo and Juliet, but Helmholtz cannot keep himself from laughing at
The Use of Technology to Control Society
The Consumer Society
The Dangers of an All-Powerful State
Happiness and Agency
Point of View
The Director’s Relationship To John And Linda
Does Art Cause an Unstable Society?