Brave New World

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Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harper Perennial edition of Brave New World published in 2006.
Chapter 1 Quotes
Community, Identity, Stability.
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

The novel opens on the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, a grey building of "only thirty-four stories" in which human babies are "hatched." On the front of the building is the motto of the World State, the government that rules over the entire globe: "Community, Identity, Stability." The fact that the World State has a motto at all highlights that the government operates according to a forceful preexisting ideology, rather than democratically governing according to the wishes of the people. Each of the words in the motto are strikingly positive, and together appear to describe the ideal society. Yet as will soon be revealed, the World State's claim to be a utopia masks a deeply dystopian reality.

In the context of the novel, "Community" points to the fact that the needs of the group totally supplant individual freedom and agency. "Identity" has a twisted meaning, as it refers not to a personal, individual sense of identity but rather the "identity" assigned to each citizen of the world state in the form of the role assigned to them by the government and their classification into castes. Finally, in the world of the novel, "Stability" has been taken to such an extreme that all the variety and dynamism of life has been eroded. Without conflict or difficulty, people live in a pacified, passive state, and stability thus takes on distinctly negative connotations.


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And that ... is the secret of happiness and virtue—liking what you've got to do. All conditioning aims at that: making people like their unescapable social destiny.
Related Characters: The Director (Thomas) (speaker)
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:

The Director of the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre has explained how babies are created; he has told the students on the tour that Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons are "hatched" by forcing fertilized eggs to divide into many pairs of identical wins. He then describes how the different fetuses are chemically manipulated in order to encourage them to enjoy the lifestyle they will be assigned to, claiming that this is because "the secret of happiness and virtue [is] liking what you've got to do." Like much World State ideology, on the surface this statement seems persuasive. Common sense suggests that enjoying life is indeed the secret of happiness, and that happy, satisfied people are more likely to be virtuous.

However, in the context of the Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, the Director's words take on a seriously sinister tone. As he has demonstrated to the students, the government preconditions people to enjoy their lives as a method of control. Although this may result in happy citizens, their happiness comes at the expense of freedom––a fact confirmed by the Director's comment about their "unescapable social destiny." This detail in turn calls into question what the Director means by "virtue." Does "virtue" refer to morality, or is it simply another way of describing a repressed and controlled society?

Chapter 2 Quotes
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 colour. I'm so glad I'm a Beta.
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:

Having showed the tour group where babies are hatched, the Director of the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre moves on to the Infant Nurseries, where young children are conditioned according to their caste. One method of indoctrination is hypnopaedia, or sleep-teaching; in this scene, the Director reveals a room of sleeping Betas, and the quote is of a recorded voice placed under their pillows that is conditioning the Betas to love their future role. The speaker's words highlight the delicate balance of inspiring the children to feel proud and satisfied of their status as Betas while internalizing the overall caste hierarchy as natural and correct.

As this passage reveals, this balance is achieved by a combination of positive and negative messages. The children are encouraged to think of the lower classes as "stupid," yet be grateful that the expectations for how hard they work will exactly match their capabilities as Betas. The fact that citizens all wear the color of their caste shows how the caste system, although artificially created, is enforced as a fundamental and unalterable fact of society. It also conveys how individual identity is subsumed under the classification of people into classes.

Till at last the child's mind is these suggestions, and the sum of the suggestions is the child's mind. And not the child's mind only. The adult's mind too-all his life long. The mind that judges and desire and decides-made up of these suggestions. But all these suggestions are our suggestions... Suggestions from the State.
Related Characters: The Director (Thomas) (speaker)
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

The Director of the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre has taken the group of students around various parts of the Infant Nurseries, and shown them a room of Beta children being conditioned via hypnopaedia: a voice that plays as the children sleep and encourages them to feel proud that they are Betas, and to have admiration for the Alphas and disdain for the Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons.

In this quote, the Director refers to these messages as "suggestions," and notes that all citizens continue to receive them into adulthood. The use of the word "suggestions" is misleading, as is the Director's claim that citizens use their minds to "judge," "desire," and "decide." Although these assertions may be technically true, the State's control over people's thoughts and wishes is so extensive that they no longer truly have any agency. The government here is not merely making suggestions that its citizens will later vote on; it is making suggestions in a way that shapes its citizens minds so that they will never stray from the government's role for them.

Chapter 3 Quotes
You all remember, I suppose, that beautiful and inspired saying of Our Ford's: History is bunk.
Related Characters: Mustapha Mond (speaker)
Related Symbols: Ford
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:

The Director has taken the tour group to the Hatcheries garden, where naked children are playing sex games. The group is shocked by the sudden appearance of Mustapha Mond, the Resident Controller of Western Europe.

Here, Mond has commented on the fact that, historically, children did not engage in sexual behavior until they were twenty, calling this state of affairs "terrible." He then invokes a well-known saying of Henry Ford: "History is bunk." Mond's disdainful attitude toward history reflects a widespread dismissiveness to all fields of knowledge, including science and literature. Whereas we might think of these fields as important and useful ways of determining how to live, in the world of the novel, the ideology of the World State is the only valued system of knowledge, because any other system of knowledge might cause people to think individually and, in so doing, impact the stability of the state.

Ending is better than mending. The more stitches, the less riches.
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:

The Elementary Class Consciousness lesson at the Hatcheries has ended, but the recorded voice continues to repeat hypnopaedic "suggestions" that encourage these children to grow up with the belief that limitless greed and consumption are better than moderation or frugality. These maxims are phrased in a whimsical, memorable fashion akin to children's nursery rhymes, and as such are reminiscent of the government propaganda used in World Wars I and II, which blended commercial advertising and patriotism in its messaging. However, while the messages disseminated by the World State echo the style of wartime propaganda, they convey the opposite message: while the wartime propaganda was designed to encourage people to limit wastefulness, the hypnopaedic suggestions of the World State make clear thatthe duty of citizenship involves throwing away possessions instead of fixing them, in order to enable further consumption and continue to drive the economy.

Note that the phrase "Ending is better than mending" is eerily similar to the famous "Make Do and Mend" campaign of WWII (although they of course contain contradictory sentiments!). This similarity is striking, considering the Make Do and Mend campaign was not launched until 1943, and Brave New World was written in 1932. Furthermore, in the economic boom of the decades following WWII, the surge in commercial advertising and consumption did indeed create a culture in which the "Make Do and Mend" mindset was replaced by a drive to purchase more and more products. The message that "Ending is better than mending" is thus one of several examples of Huxley's remarkable ability to anticipate the future.

Chapter 5 Quotes
Ford, we are twelve; oh make us one,
Like drops within the Social River;
Oh, make us now together run
As swiftly as thy shining Flivver.
Come, Greater Being, Social Friend,
Annihilating Twelve-in-One!
We long to die, for when we end,
Our larger life has but begun.
Feel how the Greater Being comes!
Rejoice and, in rejoicings, die!
Melt in the music of the drums!
For I am you and you are I.
Orgy-porgy, Ford and fun,
Kiss the girls and make them One.
Boys at One with girls at peace;
Orgy-porgy gives release."
Related Symbols: Ford
Page Number: 81-84
Explanation and Analysis:

Bernard has gone to his Solidarity Meeting, an event in which the members of a twelve-person "solidarity group" drink soma and chant "Solidarity Hymns" designed to make them forget their individual identities and feel close to the "Greater Being" and, ultimately, participate in a group orgy. The words of the Solidarity Hymn convey the manner in which the loss of individuality, described in terms of individual death, are elevated in the World State to a moral and spiritual imperative. The hymn mixes the styles of religious music, folklore, commercial advertising, and nursery-rhyme, for example by pairing the phrases "Like drops within the Social River" and "As swiftly as thy shining Flivver" ("Flivver" was a slang nickname for a Model T Ford).

The blending of these different styles is bizarre and disorientating, suggesting there is something distinctly unnatural and perverse about the culture of the world depicted in the novel. By training them to worship Henry Ford and ritualistically indulge in drugs and group sex, the World State has purposely caused itscitizens to lose touch with the aspects of life that are truly meaningful: both love and loneliness, success and struggle, etc. Instead, the citizens are like children: focused only on instant gratification, with every desire, spiritual or physical, met by soma or easy meaningless sex.

Chapter 6 Quotes
A gramme in time saves nine.
Related Characters: Lenina Crowne (speaker)
Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:

Lenina has reflected on how strange she finds Bernard Marx; he doesn't enjoy activities such as electro-magnetic golf, preferring simple pursuits such as going for a walk. They travel to Amsterdam for a women's wrestling tournament, and in between matches go to an ice cream soma bar with "dozens" of Lenina's friends. Lenina tries to persuade Bernard to eat a soma-infused raspberry sundae by telling him "A gramme in time saves nine," but he refuses. Lenina's advice is an adaptation of the adage "A stitch in time saves nine," meaning if you solve a problem straight away it will be easier than if you put it off until later.

Lenina's version of the adage suggests that taking soma is a good solution to life's problems; however, in reality it is the opposite. Taking soma doesn't change or solve anything––instead, it just makes people forget their troubles, thus putting off problem-solving indefinitely. This attitude reflects the widespread addiction to immediate satisfaction to which all the characters in the novel are conditioned. Even Lenina's use of this phrase itself represents a kind of short-circuited thinking. Unlike Bernard, who reflects on issues using logic, Lenina simply regurgitates cliches she has learned during hypnopaedia. This explains why she finds Bernard odd, yet is not able to comprehend the reason behind his unconventional behavior.

Chapter 8 Quotes
"O brave new world," he repeated. "O brave new world that has such people in it. Let's start at once."
Related Characters: John (the Savage) (speaker), Bernard Marx, Helmholtz Watson, Lenina Crowne
Related Symbols: Shakespeare
Page Number: 139
Explanation and Analysis:

Bernard and Lenina have travelled to the Savage Reservation, where they have witnessed a man be whipped and met John, a white man dressed as a savage. John has told Bernard what he can remember of his life story, and Bernard promises to take John and his mother, Linda, back with him to the World State. When Bernard tells John he is not married to Lenina, John joyfully exclaims, "O brave new world that has such people in it," a line from Shakespeare's play The Tempest. Because he has been raised on the Savage Reservation, John's only knowledge of the outside world comes through the works of Shakespeare, and it is fitting that he quotes from The Tempest, a play that explores the themes of exploration, colonization, and civilization.

John's love for Lenina and excitement at his initial impressions of the World State highlight the superficial appeal of the society depicted in the novel.However, as Bernard points out when he responds that John should wait to see the "brave new world" before he gets too excited, beneath this superficial appeal lies a dystopian reality. Indeed, it will take the perspective of John––an outsider––to expose the "brave new world" for what it really is.

Chapter 10 Quotes
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 offence is so heinous as unorthodoxy of behavior. Murder kills only the individual-and, after all, what is an individual?
Related Characters: The Director (Thomas) (speaker), Bernard Marx
Page Number: 148
Explanation and Analysis:

Bernard has taken Linda and John back to the World State, having received permission from Mustapha Mond on the basis that bringing them would be of scientific value. Unbeknownst to Bernard, however, the Director of the Hatchery has decided to exile him to Iceland, and in this passage the Director confides this plan to Henry Foster. The Director reasons that an intelligent, unsatisfied man like Bernard poses a threat to society, and that this easily justifies making an example of him to ward others away from deviance. The Director claims that there is "no offence so heinous as unorthodoxy of behavior," and that even murder is relatively defensible. Such reasoning, while strange and alarming to conventional wisdom, makes sense in a world in which there is no value placed on individual human life.

Indeed, individuality is not merely undervalued by the World State, but crushed at every opportunity. While framing this rejection of individuality in the context of the "greater good" can make it seem like a positive, noble goal, the Director's words highlight the dark side of such ideology. When individual identity and unconventional behavior are seen as worthless and even dangerous, it becomes easy to justify even crimes as severe as murder. Furthermore, the Director's speech emphasizes the delicate balance of the caste system and its corresponding control over people's talent and intelligence. While smart, hard-working Alphas serve a useful role in society, the Director indicates that their "talents" must be tightly restricted in order to prevent them becoming aware of their own repression and rebelling.

Chapter 12 Quotes
Why was [Shakespeare] such a marvellous propaganda technician? Because he had so many insane, excruciating things to get excited about. You've got to be hurt and upset; otherwise you can't think of the really good, penetrating X-rayish phrases.
Related Characters: Helmholtz Watson (speaker)
Related Symbols: Shakespeare
Page Number: 185
Explanation and Analysis:

Bernard has unsuccessfully tried to throw a party to show off John the Savage, but John refused to leave his room and appear at the event. Meanwhile, Helmholtz's students have reported him to the government for writing a poem about being alone. In this passage, during the party, John and Helmholtz discuss Shakespeare; at first, Helmholtz is unable to get over how ridiculous he finds Romeo and Juliet, but then undergoes a moment of realization during which his evaluation of the play changes. While it seems strange to Helmholtz for anyone to be as "hurt and upset" as the characters in Romeo and Juliet, he begins to trace the connection between these painful feelings and the existence of great works of art. Indeed, he realizes, if people remain in a state of constance satisfaction and emotional satiety, they cannot create anything of real value.

Note that even as Helmholtz arrives at this subversive realization, he cannot help but frame it in terms particular to his conditioned mindset; Shakespeare is not a playwright but a "propaganda technician," and his writing is not insightful but "X-rayish." Huxley once again explores the boundary of just how far human thought can be controlled, and to what extent people are able to remain critical of the world into which they are born.

Chapter 13 Quotes
Put your arms around me...Hug me till you drug me, honey...Kiss me till I'm in a coma. Hug me honey, snuggly...
Related Characters: Lenina Crowne (speaker)
Page Number: 193
Explanation and Analysis:

Lenina has grown more and more in love with John the Savage, a fact that makes her friends suspicious, as it is antithetical to World State conditioning to have such strong feelings and to love only one person. At his house, the Savage confesses he loves Lenina, who is thrilled; however, when he proposes marriage, Lenina dismisses this as absurd and simply removes her clothes while singing seductively to him. The words of Lenina's song highlight the connection that the World State has created between sexual desire and the desire for the annihilation of individual identity. Intimacy is depicted as a kind of drug ("hug me till you drug me"), and Lenina seems to crave sex as a way of losing her sense of self and slipping out of consciousness.

The lyrics of the song are reminiscent of the style popular in the 1930s, when Brave New World was written. During this era, the still relatively new genre of vocal jazz combined romantic ballads, sexual innuendo, and childlike nonsense words to create songs about love, desire, and intimacy. Although the words of Lenina's song seem fairly innocent by today's standards, remember that singing explicitly about sex was still quite new when Huxley was writing, and thus would have been far more striking to readers at the time.

Chapter 15 Quotes
"Free, free!" the Savage shouted, and with one hand continued to throw the soma into the area while, with the other, he punched the indistinguishable faces of his assailants. "Free!" And suddenly there was Helmholtz at his side–"Good old Helmholtz!"—also punching—"Men at last!"—and in the interval also throwing the poison out by handfuls through the open window. "Yes, men! men!" and there was no more poison left. He picked up the cash-box and showed them its black emptiness. "You're free!"
Howling, the Deltas charged with a redoubled fury.
Related Characters: John (the Savage) (speaker), Helmholtz Watson
Page Number: 213
Explanation and Analysis:

John the Savage's mother, Linda, has died, and the Savage is distraught. At the hospital where he had come to see his mother, the Savage has encountered Delta twins being given soma. Convinced that soma caused his mother's death (his mother, on returning from the reservation, did just basically drug herself into a constant stupor), the Savage shouts at the Deltas not to take the soma, and throws the drug out of the window. This causes a riot, and when Helmholtz arrives, he and the Savage fight off the enraged Deltas, all while gleefully exclaiming that they are finally "free" and "men at last." Once again, the Savage's actions call into question the binary between civilized and uncivilized behavior. While physically attacking others at random would conventionally be considered a wild, animalistic act, in this case it makes the Savage and Helmholtz "men."

The implication of this is that what truly makes a person human is the possession of free will and individual identity. Although Helmholtz and the Savage are engaging in a riot, at least they are doing so through their own agency, rebelling against the conditioning and expectations of the World State. Similarly, they claim that discarding the soma makes the Deltas "free," meaning free from the paralyzing grip of addiction. However, as the Delta's "redoubled fury" shows, the World State's conditioning is so powerful that not all people embrace this "freedom" with the same enthusiasm as Helmholtz and the Savage.

Chapter 16 Quotes
The world's stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can't get... And if anything should go wrong, there's soma.
Related Characters: Mustapha Mond (speaker)
Page Number: 220
Explanation and Analysis:

Following the riot at the hospital, Helmholtz, Bernard, and John the Savage have been arrested and brought to Mustapha Mond's study. Mond has asked John if he likes civilization; John says he doesn't, and this sparks a lengthy discussion between the two men about the nature of the world.

In this passage, Mond speaks approvingly of the instant-gratification, contentment, and stability of the society created by the World State. Note that everything Mond says in this passage is objectively true; preconditioned to love their lives, the citizens of the World State are indeed happy, and the world is stable. However, the events of the novel call into question the cost of this happiness and stability. Does happiness still retain the same value if it is artificially produced, not freely chosen, and never contrasted with negative emotions?

You've got to choose between happiness and what people used to call high art.
Related Characters: Mustapha Mond (speaker)
Related Symbols: Shakespeare
Page Number: 220
Explanation and Analysis:

During his conversation with John the Savage, Mustapha Mond has revealed that he is one of the few people in the World State who has read Shakespeare. Mond has laughed at John for expecting the Deltas to "understand" Shakespeare's playOthello; when John insists that Shakespeare is better than the "feelies," Mond concedes that this is true, but that sacrificing high art is the price that must be paid for general happiness.

This exchange makes explicit one of the major themes of the novel: that there is a direct connection between freedom, suffering, and "high art." While Mond does not deny this connection, he believes that high art is less important than happiness and stability, and thus reasons that it is preferable to live in a world without it.

Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the over-compensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn't nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.
Related Characters: Mustapha Mond (speaker)
Page Number: 221
Explanation and Analysis:

Having listened to Mustapha Mond explain that the World State has sacrificed high art for the sake of happiness and stability, John concludes that this seems "horrible" to him. Mond responds that this makes sense, as "actual happiness" and stability are less superficially appealing than suffering, temptation, and passion. He characterizes these strong emotions––and the individual freedom and agency that creates them––as glamorous, with the implication that this glamor is misleading. Mond's logic in this passage is surprising, as in many ways it is the World State that appears to have the greater glamor, "picturesqueness," and superficial appeal. After all, the World State is filled with beautiful people, spectacular technology, and infinite entertainment.

This apparent paradox could be interpreted in multiple ways. Perhaps Mond is simply reversing criticism of the World State as a rhetorical strategy––by arguing that the World State creates "actual happiness" as opposed to superficial charm, he defeats the objection that the World State is a false utopia. On the other hand, there might actually be some truth in Mond's words. As he points out, it is easy to romanticize the struggle created by "a good fight against misfortune"; however, many would argue that the actual experience of misfortune cannot ever be seen as a good thing. And the World State, while having sacrificed individuals, has also eliminated such things as war, poverty, illness, and the untold misery those things create.

Chapter 17 Quotes
There's always soma to calm your anger, to reconcile you to your enemies, to make you patient and long-suffering. In the past you could only accomplish these things by making a great effort and after years of hard moral training. Now, you swallow two or three half-gramme tablets, and there you are. Anybody can be virtuous now. You can carry at least half your morality about in a bottle. Christianity without tears-that's what soma is.
Related Characters: Mustapha Mond (speaker)
Page Number: 238
Explanation and Analysis:

John has asked Mustapha Mond if anything else in addition to science and "high art" has been sacrificed in order to create stability and happiness. Mond has responded that religion has also been sacrificed, as there is no place for religion in "civilization." Under Mond's interpretation, religion used to be important because it helped people find solace, forgiveness, and connection to others; however, citizens of the World State feel all of these things anyway due to their conditioning and through the use of soma. Indeed, in this passage Mond draws a direct parallel between religion and soma, arguing that they have the same function. This reflects the famous statement by Karl Marx that "religion is the opiate of the masses."

Mond's nonchalant dismissal of religion suggests that his understanding of the role of religion is rather narrow. While it is true that practices such as group sex and taking soma encourage feelings of peace and solidarity, many would argue that these emotions lose meaning when they are produced artificially. Indeed, throughout the novel the interpersonal connections between citizens of the World State are shown to be superficial and hollow. Although the World State creates mass happiness and stability, these do not seem to be a legitimate replacement for religious or moral virtue. Interestingly, this tension echoes a longstanding debate within religious communities themselves over whether faith and morality are only meaningful if they are freely chosen.

"In fact', said Mustapha Mond, 'you're claiming the right to be unhappy.'
'All right then,' said the Savage defiantly, 'I'm claiming the right to be unhappy.'
Related Characters: John (the Savage) (speaker), Mustapha Mond (speaker)
Related Symbols: Shakespeare
Page Number: 240
Explanation and Analysis:

Mustapha Mond has conceded that it is necessary for people to occasionally experience negative emotions, and explained that this is why the World State forces citizens to undergo Violent Passion Surrogate, or V.P.S., once per month. He argues that this is a way to reap the benefits of "fear and rage... without any of the inconveniences." John responds that he wants the inconveniences, and Mond concludes that John is "claiming the right to be unhappy." This exchange contains the key philosophical question raised by the novel. For John, the "right to be unhappy" gives life meaning; while the citizens of the World State are happy, to John it is far better to be unhappy, as long as one retains one's individual identity and freedom.

Although Mustapha Mond's contrasting view is shown to be somewhat appealing and persuasive, this is undermined by Mond's powerful and unique position within society. As a former scientist who has had access to "high art" such as Shakespeare, Mond is able to retain hisindividual identity and exercise rational thought and choice, all while maintaining power and authority over the masses. While Mond is confident that life under the World State is preferable for everyone, the agitation and dissatisfaction shown by characters such as Bernard and Helmholtz suggests that Mond is perhaps mistaken. The example of John indicates that, given the choice, it seems that most (unconditioned) people would choose "the right to be unhappy" over being controlled and conditioned into happiness.

No matches.