Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World has become an essential part of many high school curriculums. Set in the year 2540, this classic text explores an imagined future divided into factions and riddled with issues that stem from an attempt to cultivate a perfect society.

Before Brave New World’s publication in 1932, prominent science fiction author H. G. Wells wrote a number of utopian novels in which he presented an optimistic view of the future. With Brave New World, Huxley intended to parody Wells’s work by exploring the idea of a utopian society gone wrong. A background lesson comparing the characteristics of utopian and dystopian literature may help students better contextualize Huxley’s satirical intentions with this novel.

One of the major themes in Brave New World deals with the conflict between the individual and society. In order to maintain stability, the World State conditions its citizens to adhere to specific societal rules. However, the main characters—John, Bernard, and Helmholtz—all find themselves isolated in this conformist society. As your students read, have them compare and contrast the ways in which each of these three men seek to form their own identities despite an oppressive government.

After reading Brave New World, consider reviewing Huxley’s 1958 essay “Brave New World Revisited” with your students. In this piece, Huxley reflects on the themes he explored in his novel and evaluates whether or not his predictions of the future came true. Encourage your students to discuss how similar (or different) Huxley’s fictional future society is to today’s reality. Was he particularly insightful about the technological advances and moral setbacks that he presented in Brave New World?

Keep reading to learn more about Brave New World.

Summary of Brave New World

Key Facts

  • Publication Date: 1932
  • Length: 268 pages
  • Lexile Measure: 870
  • Recommended Grade Band: 9-10

Brave New World presents a futuristic 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 carry out their respective preordained functions in society. The only form of “happiness” comes from a drug called soma, which provides an artificial escape from negative emotions.

As some individuals begin to question the world around them, John, a “Savage” who has been raised outside of the World State, enters this mainstream society and stirs up trouble. A novel way ahead of its time, Brave New World depicts both the advantages and disadvantages of a world in which stability is preferred to freedom.

Content Warning: Brave New World contains sexual themes and scenes involving torture.

What Your Students Will Love About Brave New World

  • Relating universal ideas from the novel to real-world issues
  • Reading about the technological advancements present in the dystopian society

Potential Student Struggles With Brave New World

  • The disturbing nature of a government-controlled society
  • Huxley’s focus on intangible ideas more than developing the characters

Learning Objectives for Brave New World

  • Use examples from the novel to distinguish between direct and indirect forms of satire.
  • Discuss how Huxley uses irony to critique and examine his own society.
  • Evaluate which aspects of Huxley’s futuristic society mirror those of society today.
  • Compare and contrast the characters of Bernard, John, and Helmholtz.
  • Identify allusions to historical figures, psychological concepts, and literature.

Literary Elements in Brave New World

  • Allusion
  • Flashback
  • Foreshadowing
  • Inference
  • Irony
  • Metaphor
  • Personification
  • Satire
  • And more!

Major Themes in Brave New World

Identity — The forbiddance of personal identities in the novel highlights the oppressive nature of this futuristic society.

Related Works:

Individual vs. Society — Given the fact that humans in this society are born with specific purposes and functions, practically no one in the novel questions societal norms.

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Science and Technology — As beneficial as technology can be for the world, this novel demonstrates how these advancements can actually cause major setbacks for the morality and integrity of a society.

Related Works:

Other Resources for Brave New World

Order Brave New World Resources from Prestwick House

Resource Format
Brave New World Paperback Student Edition
Brave New World Teaching Unit Reproducible Downloadable 30-Book Set
Brave New World AP Teaching Unit Reproducible Downloadable 30-Book Set
Brave New World Activity Pack Reproducible Downloadable 30-Book Set
Brave New World Response Journal Reproducible Downloadable 30-Book Set
Brave New World Multiple Critical Perspectives Reproducible Downloadable 30-Book Set
Brave New World Complete Teacher's Kit Reproducible Downloadable 30-Book Set

This free guide was originally posted in January 2015. It has been updated as of June 2019.