Brave New World

Brave New World Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley was born into a family of noted scientists and writers. His grandfather, a biologist, was instrumental in popularizing Darwin's theory of evolution, while his mother was related to the English poet Matthew Arnold. Huxley attended Eton and Oxford, and was skilled and knowledgeable in both literature and science. Though his hopes of a medical career were dashed when an eye disease almost blinded him, he soon built a career as a writer. He wrote prolifically throughout the 1920's, and published numerous essays, sketches, caricatures, and four novels. Huxley published Brave New World, his most successful novel, in 1932. As war loomed in Europe, Huxley, a pacifist, moved to California. His attempt to write screenplays failed, but he developed an interest in hallucinogenic drugs that led to a book about his drug experiences, The Doors of Perception. In 1963, the same year he died, Huxley published his last book, Island, which depicted a utopia in contrast to his dystopia of Brave New World.
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Historical Context of Brave New World

When Huxley wrote Brave New World in the early 1930s, the world had recently undergone a terrible world war, totalitarian states had sprung up in the Soviet Union and Fascist parties were gaining power in Europe, and another war seemed to be on the horizon. In addition, huge strides had been made in both science and the application of science through technology, and the world had industrialized. Huxley took all these developments and spun them into the World State of Brave New World, a totalitarian dystopia that uses technology to, basically, trick its citizens into loving their slavery.

Other Books Related to Brave New World

In 1516, Sir Thomas More published a book called Utopia. It's title meant, in Greek, either "good place" or "no place," and the book described an ideal society that More used in order to criticize his own society. Utopia was not the first book to imagine a perfect society, Plato's Republic, for example, does the same thing. But Utopia did give the genre a name, and numerous writers over the years wrote their own Utopian novels. In addition, a number of writers wrote Dystopian novels, in which they imagined the worst possible society, and used it to criticize their current world. Brave New World is a dystopian novel, which extrapolated from the rise of technology, science, and totalitarianism in the 1930s to imagine a future totalitarian state in which humanity had been robbed of all free choice and were forced into happiness through the manipulation of genetics and psychology. In its focus on the evils of totalitarianism and the use of technology to support these evils, Brave New World most closely resembles George Orwell's 1984.
Key Facts about Brave New World
  • Full Title: Brave New World
  • Where Written: England
  • When Published: 1932
  • Literary Period: Modernism
  • Genre: Dystopian novel
  • Setting: London and New Mexico, as they exist under the rule of an imagined future one-world government called the World State.
  • Climax: The debate between Mustapha Mond and John
  • Antagonist: The World State; Mustapha Mond
  • Point of View: Third person omniscient

Extra Credit for Brave New World

The Doors of Rock and Roll. As you might expect, Huxley's book about his experiences with hallucinogenic drugs, the Doors of Experience, was a cult classic among certain groups of people. One of those groups was actually a rock and roll band looking for a name. Well, after Jim Morrison and his friends read Huxley's book, they had one: The Doors.