Brave New World

(With thanks to Becky Gill)


We want you to become familiar with the text, its story and its themes. This should enable you to engage with the novel in a faster way as you read it and make connection between its plot and Huxley’s social commentary.

Firstly, check out the summary video via SparkNotes:

Huxley’s Brave New World is often compared to Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Both are canonical works of dystopian fiction, commenting on the different ways in which society relates with its leaders and political processes.

A comparison between the major ideas of the two novels is nicely portrayed by Stuart McMillen.

(Image embedded from:


Brave New World was published in 1932, before World War II. At the time, a range of events and social issues influenced both the world and Huxley’s novel. These included:

  • Spanish Flu (1918-20)
  • Great Depression
  • Job automation/mass production
  • Increased use of advertisements
  • Rejection of Victorian morality/ increased sexual libeteries
  • Eugenics Movement
  • Psychological discoveries (Pavlov’s dog, Behaviourist School of psychology & Freud’s concepts)

TheatreCloud provides a little more context in their discussion of the Historical Perspective of the novel.

In comparison, Orwell published Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1949.


In Brave New World, there is a five-tiered caste system. If you are unfamiliar with what a caste system is, SBS explained the traditional Indian caste system in a video here:

TheatreCloud also created this graphic to help visualise the caste system in Brave New World – click on the image to enlarge:


Huxley utilises the idea of conditioning in his novel. If you aren’t already familiar with the idea of classical conditioning, have a quick read about it here.

Hypnopædia/Sleep-training is conveying information to a sleeping person, typically by playing a sound recording to them while they sleep.


If you need some more guidance as you read Brave New World, you can:

1. Review ‘Who’s Who’ of BNW (the characters)

2. Review the ‘Monarch Notes’ on BNW (information about the author, context, literary elements, chapters, etc.)


Chapter 3 has a non-linear narrative…some students actually stop reading the novel at this point, as it is unlike what they have read in the past and can be quite difficult for them to truly comprehend.

The chapter actually isn’t that difficult to understand once you realise that as the chapter progresses, each section break is also a change to a parallel storyline. It is a kind of “verbal montage” of three different sequences outlined below:

The Controller, Director and students are in the garden.

The Controller is giving a lecture to the students on history and what the world used to be like BF (Before Ford).

Lenina is talking to her friend, Fanny in the female change room about her relationships and the offer the Bernard Marx has made her to go on a holiday. Bernard in the male change room alone, listening to other men talk about ‘having’ Lenina.