Brave New World is a great book to introduce to the classroom because students will love reading about a dysfunctional dystopian society that exists in the future. Set in the year 2540, this classic text explores the inner workings of a future divided into factions and riddled with issues that stem from an attempt to cultivate the perfect society. Brave New World has become an essential part of most curriculums because it explores the aspects of humanity that are the most ruthless and involved and how those aspects carry on to the future.

In the classroom, students should be encouraged to discuss how similar (or different) Aldous Huxley's fictional future society is to today's reality. Was he particularly insightful about the technological advances and moral setbacks that he presents in his novel?

Content Warning

1984 contains some sexual references and torture.

Summary

Aldous Huxley's novel, set in the twenty-sixth century, presents a fictional dystopian society in which the entire world is controlled by a singular, governmental entity called the World State. Humans are genetically bred to follow rules and to carry out their respective preordained functions in society. The only form of "happiness" comes in the form of a drug called soma, and people are indoctrinated with the ways of the World State while they sleep. As some individuals begin to question the world around them, a "Savage" named John, who has been raised outside of the order of the World State, enters this mainstream society and stirs up trouble. A book written way ahead of its time, Brave New World depicts both the advantages and disadvantages of a world in which stability is preferred to freedom.

Objectives for Teaching
Brave New World

  • Define and discuss concepts of utopian/dystopian literature.
  • Use examples from the novel to distinguish between direct and indirect forms of satire.
  • Discuss the intended emotional effect that the author wished to have on readers.
  • Identify and discuss the various themes that arise in the text.
  • Respond to the controversial ideas and practices presented in the novel.
  • Discuss the gains and costs of the author's futuristic society.

Key Elements and Techniques

  • Flashback
  • Foreshadowing
  • Inference
  • Irony
  • Metaphor
  • Personification
  • Satire

Themes and Motifs

  • Identity — The overarching lack of individual identities in the novel highlights the extremely disturbing nature of this futuristic society.
  • Individual vs. Society — Given the fact that humans are created with specific purposes and functions in mind, almost no one questions the ways of the world in which they live. When a person does challenge the features of society, he often stands completely alone and looks insane to everyone around him.
  • Science and Technology —  As beneficial as technological advancements can be for the world, this novel demonstrates how these improvements can actually present major setbacks for the morality and integrity of a society.

Related Works

Theme of Identity

 

Theme of Individual vs. Society

 

Theme of Science and Technology

Key Facts

  • Length: 259 pages
  • Lexile Measure: 870
  • Publication Date: 1932
  • Recommended Grade Band: 9 – 10

Awards

  • #5 on Modern Library's list of 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century (1999)

Movies

Two films of the same name were released based on Aldous Huxley's novel: one in 1980, and one in 1998. Both were made for TV. The 1998 version's ending is a bit different from the book, but does not really detract from the main message of the story.

Your students will love:

  • Reading a book set so far into the future, but being able to see the problems and issues portrayed that are still relevant to today
  • Reading about the technological advancements made in the fictional society

Students may have problems with:

  • The very disturbing nature of a government-controlled society
  • The author's apparent focusing on intangible ideas more than developing the actual characters

More Teacher's Guides to Literature:

See all our Teacher's Guides to Literature here.