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Free Study Guide: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley - Free BookNotes

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BRAVE NEW WORLD: STUDY GUIDE / FREE PLOT SUMMARY

PLOT STRUCTURE ANALYSIS

Although Brave New World is a poignant warning against the dangers of a conformist totalitarian society based on scientific principles, it lacks a wholeness. Even Huxley himself admitted in 1946 that the novel lacked philosophical and artistic completeness. Since the author used the novel as a forum to express many of his varied ideas, content rather than form is all-important. Although Huxley succeeds in developing his main theme; scientific advancement and its impact on humanity, the plot becomes secondary to the message.

Although the plot is a simplistic one of the old vs. the new and individual freedom vs. totalitarianism, it is not developed in the traditional manner. In fact it really lacks unity of time, place and character. Although the main action of the plot occurs within a year, the flashbacks that interrupt the normal chronology of the plot make it span almost a lifetime, from when Linda is abandoned on the Savage Reservation beyond the point when she dies. Although Bernard occupies much of the novel, from the very beginning to almost the end of the novel, he is not the central character or protagonist. Instead, John the Savage is the key character, and he is not even introduced in the book until the seventh chapter, one-third of the way through the entire novel. In a similar manner, the action is not united by a singular plot, for a significant portion occurs away from the brave new world at the Savage Reservation. In fact the action is almost episodic and sometimes seems like a montage, where diverse actions and speeches are truncated and juxtaposed in ironic contrasts.


Several things help to hold the plot together. The book, above all, focuses on the nature and demands of the new world, which are given in detail. In fact the scientific and conformist new order is always in the background, even on the Savage Reservation; in their isolation, Linda and John always dream about the brave new world. Also in the course of the novel, Huxley explores how the new world affects all the key characters, including the Savage, Linda, Bernard, Helmholtz, and the Controller. Once John is introduced in Chapter 7, he becomes the focal point of the story and remains the point of interest until the very end, when he commits suicide. The point of view is also consistent throughout the novel. An omniscient voice narrates the whole story in third person. The narrator's sympathies obviously lie with the people from the old world, specifically John and Linda.

The greatest weakness of the novel is its lack of a definitive conclusion and its deviation from normal plot construction. There is an extremely well-developed exposition (or introduction); in fact, it comprises the first seven chapters of the book, as the setting of the brave new world is explained and developed and the major characters are introduced. The rising action begins with Bernard's suggestion that John leave the reservation with him and go to the brave new world that he has dreamed about. The rest of the plot centers on John's disillusion with the new society that he encounters and climaxes with his debate with the Controller, when it becomes obvious that the Savage has no place in the brave new world, which cannot allow for his differences. The falling action centers on John's move to the lighthouse in an attempt to find a place for himself. Unfortunately, the crowds descend upon him there, mentally torturing him to the point of dementia. The conclusion comes with his decision to hang himself. Although the conclusion is not definitive, it strongly suggests that it is impossible for the old and the new, the emotional and the scientific to co-exist. The confusion in the plot comes from the fact that Huxley sees good and bad in both the old and new orders.


THEMES - THEME ANALYSIS

Science as it influences humanity is the major theme of Brave New World. The novel depicts a new society where human beings have been stripped of individual freedom, programmed to certain types of behavior, and conditioned to respond in scientific ways to specific stimulants. All traces of the old order have been eliminated. No longer are human emotions or relationships important. Infants are created in a fertilizing room and decanted to perform certain tasks for the totalitarian regime. They are then conditioned from birth to accept their prescribed role without question. Since love and marriage no longer exist, sex has become a casual experience encouraged from childhood.

It is obvious that Huxley fears a completely totalitarian government and a purely scientific society engineered in a laboratory. It is no wonder that he chose to express his concerns in a book, for the increasing power of Russia and other socialist and dictatorial governments was rapidly expanding. In fact, many viewed the Soviet countries as "the new world." Huxley, however, believed that a purely scientific society is incompatible with long cherished human values and ideals such as truth, love, art, and emotions. The novel carries a clear warning against contemporary tendencies, especially those where science is used merely as a technological tool. The author also warns that social stability, the natural concern of a post-war generation, should not be valued at the expense of individual freedom.

Dystopian Society - Finally, Huxley is warning against escaping reality through drugs, the growth of mindless entertainment, the advocacy of free sex, and the increasing power of mass media, problems that still plague modern life. The title, therefore, is intended to be ironic, for Huxley does not see the world depicted in the novel as a brave or beauteous place. Instead of being a utopia, the brave new world becomes a utopia-in-reverse or Dystopia; it is less inviting than the old world order with all its disadvantages.


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