Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
“O brave new world…”
By Hayden Robel
1. Briefly summarize the plot of the novel you read, and explain how the narrative fulfills the author's purpose (based on your well-informed interpretation of same).
2. Succinctly describe the theme of the novel. Avoid clichés.
3. Describe the author's tone. Include a minimum of three excerpts that illustrate your point(s).
4. Describe a minimum of ten literary elements/techniques you observed that strengthened your understanding of the author's purpose, the text's theme and/or your sense of the tone. For each, please include textual support to help illustrate the point for your readers. (Please include edition and page numbers for easy reference.)
1. A modernist magnum opus straddling the perilous precipice of post-modernism, the world of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World is a cautionary tale, a fictional fable of human fallibility. An utterly efficient, emotionless utopia, the World State functions by three foundational tenets: Community, Identity, Stability. A civilization bereaved of emotion, the arts, religions, individualism, expressionism but perpetually sustained in monitored maintenance, in equilibrium, consumerism, industry, the sciences, "perfect content". Bernard Marx, the debatable "protagonist", however lacks such content, dissatisfied, introverted and alienated for his lack conformity in a culture constructed upon universal uniformity. Threatening the fragile stability of the world state as stability cannot be achieved without complete and total lack of individuality, the hatchery director Helmholtz threatens to exile Bernard. Bernard, having visited the Savage society, a society outside the world state lacking the technology, soma, the same system of cultures and values, however has a different plan confronting the director with his naturally conceived son John. Fleeing in confusion, embarrassment, in fear the director enables us a perspicacity, a window to observe world state society. A society forgoing death and aging, a society without love, family, emotions a world without humanity. Huxley by novels end connotes his ultimate purpose, theme, as John symbolizes the values and culture of our society whilst the director (and Mustapha Mond) symbolizes that of the world state. John argues what I ultimately do, that forgoing the flaws of humanity, pursuing perfection via the elimination of emotions, any danger, or love, ultimately sacrifices what makes us human, a sacrifice that ends with John (Spoiler Alert) sacrificing himself to preserve/symbolize our most human trait: imperfection. Something flawed can only ever be but is our flaws that make us human, give us our humanity. This is what I believe Aldous Huxley's ultimate purpose whilst crafting the world and characters of the World State, a cautionary tale on the costs of perfection, perfection at the cost of our humanity. Indeed this is a potential future, but I try to be an optimist, all I can say is I can't wait to see what lies in our futures, can't wait to see the Brave New World.
2. (Essentially answered this in previous question) Huxley by novels end connotes his ultimate purpose, theme, as John symbolizes the values and culture of our society whilst the director (and Mustapha Mond) symbolizes that of the world state. John argues what I ultimately do, that forgoing the flaws of humanity, pursuing perfection via the elimination of emotions, any danger, or love, ultimately sacrifices what makes us human, a sacrifice that ends with John (spoiler alert) sacrificing himself to preserve/symbolize our most human trait: imperfection. Something flawed can only ever be but is our flaws that make us human, give us our humanity. This is what I believe Aldous Huxley's ultimate purpose whilst crafting the world and characters of the World State, a cautionary tale on the costs of perfection, perfection at the cost of our humanity.
· "In the Bottling Room all was harmonious bustle and ordered activity. Flaps of fresh sow's peritoneum ready cut to the proper size came shooting up in little lifts from the Organ Store in the sub-basement. Whizz and then, click! the lift-hatches hew open; the bottle-liner had only to reach out a hand, take the flap, insert, smooth-down, and before the lined bottle had had time to travel out of reach along the endless band, whizz, click! another flap of peritoneum had shot up from the depths, ready to be slipped into yet another bottle, the next of that slow interminable procession on the band."
· "Roses and electric shocks, the khaki of Deltas and a whiff of asafœtida – wedded indissolubly before the child can speak. But wordless conditioning is crude and wholesale; cannot bring home the finer distinctions, cannot inculcate the more complex courses of behaviour. For that there must be words, but words without reason. In brief, hypnopædia."
· "Phosgene, chloropicrin, ethyl iodoacetate, diphenylcyanarsine, trichlormethyl, chloroformate, dichlorethyl sulphide. Not to mention hydrocyanic acid. Ch3C6H2(NO2)3+Hg(CNO)2=well, what? An enormous hole in the ground, a pile of masonry, some bits of flesh and mucus, a foot, with the boot still on it, flying through the air and landing, flop, in the middle of the geraniums – the scarlet ones; such a splendid show that summer!"
The brave new world of Huxley's novel is bound by the dogma of rationality, science, utilitarity and uniformity. A cold tone, calculated and relentlessly analytical Huxley's tone is undeniably the vehicle of World State society's relinquishment of all things mute to the state's benefit. As illustrated in the excerpts above, Huxley characterizes the mechanical hive of efficiency that constitutes the surrounding society via an equally if not exceedingly machinist tone bolstered by an ironic use of flowery if not waxing poetry to describe what contemporary readers such as myself would cringe at the gruesome spectacle (quote 3). Quotes like #1 and 2 capitalize on this juxtaposition of vibrant descriptions and figurative language against the cold and cruel, the ethically grey scientific systems of the state (I.e. hypnopaedia, neo-Pavlovian conditioning etc.). A master of the rhetorical strategies Huxley's tone within Brave New World expertly convey's the sense of cold, emotionless, frequently cruel, ethically, morally grey ambiguity of the eponymous novel's World state society, connoting the values of its culture in the process.
4. Here we go. (Ad infinitum)
1. Setting: “A SQUAT grey building of only thirty-four stories. Over the main entrance the words, CENTRAL LONDON HATCHERY AND CONDITIONING CENTRE, and, in a shield, the World State's motto, COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY.” (Pg. 1) Depicts thru cold cut description/tone the setting of Brave New World, the grey, clinical surroundings that come to characterize the surrounding World State society as well as its values of: COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY.
2. Theme: “Hot tunnels alternated with cool tunnels. Coolness was wedded to discomfort in the form of hard X-rays. By the time they were decanted the embryos had a horror of cold. They were predestined to emigrate to the tropics, to be miner and acetate silk spinners and steel workers. Later on their minds would be made to endorse the judgment of their bodies. "We condition them to thrive on heat," concluded Mr. Foster. "Our colleagues upstairs will teach them to love it. “And that,"put in the Director sententiously, "that is the secret of happiness and virtue – liking what you've got to do. All conditioning aims at that: making people like their inescapable social destiny.” (pg. 11) This quote describes the pre-conditioning/controlled conception of humans via mechanical processes ultimately connoting one of the novel’s central ideas, theme: subjugation thru perfect content, apathy. I.E. Caste system according to the World State.
3. Rhyming scheme/Free Rhyme verse: “Bottle of mine, it's you I've always wanted! Bottle of mine, why was I ever decanted? Skies are blue inside of you, The weather's always fine; For There ain't no Bottle in all the world Like that dear little Bottle of mine.” (pg. 47) Not long enough to qualify as a sonnet (needs 14 lines etc.), the rhyming scheme however cleverly creates a catchy means by which Huxley identifies but one of the many ideals of the World State, a society without art or expression, even their “folk-songs” are merely propagandist spirituals.
4. Aphorism: “When the individual feels, the community reels.” (pg. 52) Huxley thru World State Aphorisms such as these connotes the beliefs of the civilization’s ideological dogmas, this aphorism in particular exhibiting the fear of individuality in a universally uniform society.
5. Allusion: “Bernard Marx, Lenina, Henry Foster etc.” (pg. throughout the novel) Huxley brilliantly incorporates the names of famous historical figures directly into that of his Brave New World characters often to further characterize the themes of the novel. EX. Communist proponent Karl Marx is the derivation of Bernard Marx, Russian ruler Lenin is feminized for Lenina, Henry Ford’s first and last name is similar to Jesus in stature/naming frequency in characters like Henry Foster.
6. Imagery: “In the Bottling Room all was harmonious bustle and ordered activity. Flaps of fresh sow's peritoneum ready cut to the proper size came shooting up in little lifts from the Organ Store in the sub-basement. Whizz and then, click! the lift-hatches hew open; the bottle-liner had only to reach out a hand, take the flap, insert, smooth-down, and before the lined bottle had had time to travel out of reach along the endless band, whizz, click! another flap of peritoneum had shot up from the depths, ready to be slipped into yet another bottle, the next of that slow interminable procession on the band.” (pg. 22) Paints the imagery of the mechanical process by which humans are manufactured, not far off the manufacturing mechanisms of cow slaughter or assembly line electronics.
7. Personification: “The roses were in bloom, two nightingales soliloquized in the boskage, a cuckoo was just going out of tune among the lime trees. The air was drowsy with the murmur of bees and helicopters.” (pg. 37) Huxley at times engages in beautiful bouts of imagery laden figurative language to juxtapose the otherwise cruel and grey atmosphere of the novel. I personally liked the use of personification in this passage with the soliquizing flowers and drowsy air, creates a mood contrasting with the overall foreboding feeling of oppression prevalent in the book.
8. Tone: “The overalls of the workers were white, their hands gloved with a pale corpse-coloured rubber. The light was frozen, dead, a ghost. Only from the yellow barrels of the microscopes did it borrow a certain rich and living substance, lying along the polished tubes like butter, streak after luscious streak in long recession down the work tables.” (pg. 12) Cold, clinical the tone of Brave New World is sterile in it’s diction, even the similes/figurative language (in bold above) are Huxley’s tool to crafting a tone fitting of a society automated by a hive of machines and identical automatons—I mean humans.
9. Theme: “The various Bureaux of Propaganda and the College of Emotional Engineering were housed in a single sixty-story building in Fleet Street. In the basement and on the low floors were the presses and offices of the three great London newspapers – The Hourly Radio, an upper-caste sheet, the pale green Gamma Gazette, and, on khaki paper and in words exclusively of one syllable, The Delta Mirror. Then came the Bureaux of Propaganda by Television, by Feeling Picture, and by Synthetic Voice and Music respectively – twenty-two floors of them. Above were the search laboratories and the padded rooms in which Sound-Track Writers and Synthetic Composers did the delicate work. The top eighteen floors were occupied the College of Emotional Engineering.” (pg. 62) Automation of all things is a prominent facet of the World State and the naming conventions of various operating branches such as “the Bureaux of Propaganda and the College of Emotional Engineering” service as quick references to the values of this society, Huxley’s theme of replacing all things that make us human, even emotion thru propaganda and conditioning.
10. Theme: “The greater a man's talents, the greater his power to lead astray. It is better that one should suffer than that many should be corrupted. Consider the matter dispassionately, Mr. Foster, and you will see that no offense is so heinous as unorthodoxy of behavior. Murder kills only the individual-and, after all, what is an individual?” (pg. 86) Yes, there are a lot of themes that Huxley imbued his novel with thus do I with these examples. No theme more prominent then that of the elimination of the individual as the quote yet again connotes the theme of individuality and its role…lack there of in World State society.
1. Describe two examples of direct characterization and two examples of indirect characterization. Why does the author use both approaches, and to what end (i.e., what is your lasting impression of the character as a result)?
2. Does the author's syntax and/or diction change when s/he focuses on character? How? Example(s)?
3. Is the protagonist static or dynamic? Flat or round? Explain.
4. After reading the book did you come away feeling like you'd met a person or read a character? Analyze one textual example that illustrates your reaction.
· EXAMPLE 1: “Tall and rather thin but upright, the Director advanced into the room. He had a long chin and big rather prominent teeth, just covered, when he was not talking, by his full, floridly curved lips. Old, young? Thirty? Fifty? Fifty-five? It was hard to say. And anyhow the question didn't arise; in this year of stability, A. F. 632, it didn't occur to you to ask it.”
· EXAMPLE 2: “The completed mechanisms were inspected by eighteen identical curly auburn girls in Gamma green, packed in crates by thirty-four short-legged, left-handed male Delta-Minuses, and loaded into the waiting trucks and lorries by sixty-three blue-eyed, flaxen and freckled Epsilon Semi-Morons.”
· EXAMPLE 1: “Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they're so frightfully clever. I'm awfully glad I'm a Beta, because I don't work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don't want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They're too stupid to be able to read or write. Besides they wear black, which is such a beastly color. I'm so glad I'm a Beta.”
· EXAMPLE 2: “And then he spends most of his time by himself – alone.” There was horror in Fanny's voice.
“Any writers worth their royalties utilize both direct and indirect characterization.” – Hayden Robel after answering this question in seven other analyses…
Yes, Huxley is one such author. In the direct characterization examples we see the author’s direct description of the physical appearance of various caste levels. In the indirect characterization examples, Huxley synthesizes the two types of characterization to not only directly characterize a given character(s) but so to subtly (and not so much) indirectly detail the character spouting the quote’s own character. Indirect example one is an excerpt of Lenina’s comments upon various castes of which she dubs as categorically worse due to their lower social stations, thus her final comment (in bold) ironically indirectly characterizes her not only as a pretentious [insert expletive here] but also ignorant her pre-conditioned ideals. Indirect example two indirectly characterizes the fear of individuality (as Fanny and Lenina discuss Bernard’s peculiar self-isolation/introversions) not just in Fanny but World State society as a whole as Fanny gasps in “horror” to the idea of self-isolation, quite reflection and solitude. Huxley utilizes both approaches as the author’s of my seven other literary analysis sections do: to further the novel’s themes/his own ultimate purpose in the creation of the work. (Level of annoyance with this question=exceedingly obvious :)
2. No. Huxley (IMO) rarely shifts in his cold/clinical diction/syntax even whilst in characterization rather emphasizing the automated society of the world state with inhuman, terse and mechanical word choice/structure even in character speech.
3. Bernard Marx is indeed a “dynamic character” by the definition of a character arc but ultimately remains static in his individuality. In the beginning of the novel Bernard is incredulously introverted, an individual alienated for his individuality, he dissatisfied with his society as well as his status within it. By the mid-act of the novel Bernard depicts a character shift from somewhat timid to nearly narcissistic in arrogance as he seizes the popularity and attention arrived from John, thus Bernard is dynamic in his total polarity shift from an introvert to extrovert. But by the novel’s end, however, Bernard loses all of his popularity yielded from John’s providence and yet again descends into introverted misery. Consequently Bernard may have changed superficially, dynamic for a time being, but the “protagonist” returns to his static introverted state, ultimately remains the same, an individual exiled (metaphorically and literally), a lone voice drowning in a sea of uniformity.
· “The mockery made him feel an outsider; and feeling an outsider he behaved like one, which increased the prejudice against him and intensified the contempt and hostility aroused by his physical defects. Which in turn increased his sense of being alien and alone. A chronic fear of being slighted made him avoid his equals, made him stand, where his inferiors were concerned, self-consciously on his dignity. How bitterly he envied men like Henry Foster and Benito Hoover! Men who never had to shout at an Epsilon to get an order obeyed; men who took their position for granted; men who moved through the caste system as a fish through water – so utterly at home as to be unaware either of themselves or of the beneficent and comfortable element in which they had their being.”
Bernard Marx emblemizes the most human trait of humanity: imperfection. In a society founded upon the principles of manipulated equilibrium, manufactured happiness, Bernard stands as an individual, free of thought and selfish in such, just like any real person. While most of the characters of Huxley’s utopian dystopia are intentionally artificial, Bernard Marx is human in his flaws, his personal ambitions of “self-improvement” even if that self-improvement can be perceived as superficial and servicing on his social aspirations. The quote above connotes his envy of others, his source of alienation, introversion, self-isolation, his individuality. An outsider in a society of COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY, Bernard Marx is a tragic character in many ways, seizing what he was pre-conditioned to desire (a higher social standing as an Alpha) but ultimately failing, falling from the heights of his ambition. Something flawed can only ever be, in the end Bernard Marx is pathetic, insecure, at times introverted, an individual, flawed, just like you or me, just like humanity. (So yes I think he’s more person than character :P)