Brave New World | Summary, Context, & Reception | Britannica

Brave New World, novel by Aldous Huxley, published in 1932. The book is a dark idea of a futuristic society.

Summary of the plot

Brave New World is set in 2540 CE in the year 2540 CE, which is identified by the author as the year 632 AF. The term AF is a reference to “after Ford,” as Henry Ford’s assembly line is considered to be godlike and this era started with the time that Ford released the Model T. The novel focuses on the future of a society, known as the World State that is based around technology and effectiveness. 

In this world the individual and emotions are taught to children as young as and there aren’t permanent relationships as “every one belongs to every one else” (a commonly used World State dictum). Huxley starts the novel by describing the system of compartmentalization and science that is the basis of this society. The novel begins with the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre in which children are born outside of the mother’s womb, and then cloned to increase the number of people. 

Readers are then exposed to the class system in the world, in which citizens are classified according to embryos to belong to an eminent class. The embryos, which are in tubes as well as incubators are infused with various quantities in terms of both chemicals along with hormones to help shape them into certain classes. The embryos that are destined for higher classes are provided with chemicals that help to improve their mental and physical abilities while those from the lower classes are modified to be flawed in these aspects.

The classes, ranked from lowest to highest, include Alpha the Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Epsilon. These are Alpha and Beta. Alphas are bred as leaders, while the Epsilons are designed to be menial laborers.BRITANNICA QUIZ49 questions taken from the Britannica’s Most Popular Literature QuizzesLiterature refers to a broad concept that –in Britannica’s quizzes–can encompass anything from American novels to antonyms as well as synonyms. 

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Bernard Marx, an Alpha who figures as the major characters in the story. He and his girlfriend, Lenina Crowne, travel to the “savage reservation,” where Marx’s boss (the Director) is believed to have lost a female friend a few years in the past. As they arrive, they observe the people who live there engaged in strange rituals. 

They also meet an elderly female (Linda) along with her young son (John whom is also known by the name of Savage) whom Marx rightly assumes is the family that was lost in the director’s report. The Director has been warning to take Marx out for his unruly behavior, so Marx decides to take the two with him to his home.

Marx Presents Linda along with John at the direction of the Director and John is the son that the Director didn’t know was his and calls his Director “father.” This provokes the Director to resign, since the practice of procreation between individuals is illegal and his criminality has been exposed. 

John stays within”the “brave new world,” as he describes it as a kind of test. Linda however, is confined to a hospital due to her dependence on “soma,” a drug that is used by people to make them relax. Then, she dies from it, which prompts John to embark into a rage against the drug in the halls at the hospital.

John gets more and more angry with the society at which point he decides to run away to an isolated lighting station to remain in the solitude of a lighthouse. He can elude journalists and tourists for a while, however, eventually, they come across them and look at him while the self-flagellation begins. 

The ferocity of the crowd grows as John beats not only himself, but an individual woman too. The crowd descends from helicopters to watch the show. A woman is also seen (who is thought as Lenina) and John attempts to beat her as well. John quickly becomes overwhelmed with enthusiasm, and when he is to the point of being influenced by soma, falls asleep. In the morning, astonished by his role within the system, he hangs himself.

Historical context

Brave New World was published during World War I and World War II at the peak of the age that was characterized by technology enthusiasm within the Western world. Huxley was a fan of such optimism and constructed the dystopian setting of his novel in order to critique the optimism of. A large portion of the angst that fuels Brave New World is due to an underlying belief that technology is used as a future solution to diseases and war. 

Brave New World By Aldous Huxley

In contrast to his fellow citizens, Huxley believed that such a faith in technology was unfounded, and Huxley decided to challenge the notions of these people by envisioning the possibilities of technology taken to extremes. Huxley’s entire life was dominated by science, and this probably helped him develop the scientifically-oriented Brave New World. His father ( Thomas Henry Huxley) was a well-known biologist who was an early proponent for Darwin’s idea of evolution as well as his brothers who were also scientists. 

Aldous also had aspirations to make a career of science, but his illness caused him to become partially blind in his adolescent years and he was unable to carry in his path of scientific research.

Following the publication of Brave New World, Huxley was accused of plagiarism from The book My By Yevgeny Zamyatin. The novel was written around 1920, and then published by the publisher in English under the title We at the United States in 1924. 

Huxley did not claim to have read the novel and the similarity between the two works can be seen as a reflection of the common phobias surrounding the rapid development of technology as well as the similar beliefs of a lot of tech-skeptics in the 20th century’s early years. Then, following Brave New World were more dystopian books which included, among others, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four (1949).

The greatest literary influence that can be seen on Brave New World can be seen in Brave New World’s title. The title is derived from a passage in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest in which the main focus is the notion of building the new society. John is himself a resemblance to the character in the play Caliban which is described as an “savage.”

Huxley also highlights the Bard of the Avon’s influence by describing John’s schooling at the Reservation, in which the curriculum is largely based on Shakespeare’s plays. Shakespeare. Certain critics believed Brave New World to be an oblique mockery that echoes The Tempest.


The reception for Brave New World when it was first published was mostly negative. Many were shocked by the character of Huxley’s future and few were aware of it’s philosophy consequences. Libraries and schools all around the world prohibited the novel, and in the present, it is in the lists of books banned by censors. Teachers and parents say that the themes of self-harm, promiscuity and general negativity aren’t appropriate for children. 

However, others are still influenced by novel’s vision of dystopia which requires readers to think the question: in a perfect world that is free of poverty or illness, or sorrow What would society be missing? The answer to this question and the suggestions offered to the reader by Huxley within Brave New World may be the main reason why the story remains to resonate.

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