Novels in High School: Brave New World Analysis and Review
Brave New World Review Explanation
Before you ridicule my thumbs down on Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, let me explain. This review is geared toward high school teachers and whether or not I'd recommend teaching the novel to high school students. Although I personally find the novel a valuable contribution to literature, I feel the content is too mature for most high school classes. The explicit sex, albeit satirical and farcical, along with rampant drug abuse may not be suitable for teen readers. In addition, novels with the same or similar themes abound, the two most notable being 1984 and Fahrenheit 451.
Brave New World Summary
The year is A.F. 632 and the World State is in control. Children are no longer born viviparously; genetic tampering predetermines social caste and intellectual and physical capabilities. Hypnopaedia, the repetition of messages to sleeping babies, socially conditions each individual to fit into society. Thinking and being alone has been replaced by promiscuity and apparatus elaborate athletic competitions.
Bernard does not like his position in society. Although he is part of the Alpha privileged class, he's physically smaller than most Alphas and most consider him a freak on account of his heretical thinking. He is allowed access to an Indian reservation and brings the pneumatic Lenina Crowne, whose been had by just about every Alpha at the Department of Hatcheries and Conditioning. While on the reservation the two discover a blonde-haired boy named John and his mother Linda, who had been abandoned at the reservation 20 years prior.
Bernard brings the two back and John becomes a social experiment. John the savage is an immediate hit and Bernard becomes very popular because of it. John, however, finds his "brave new world" superficial and flawed.
Brave New World Analysis
If you decide to go against my recommendation (I won't be offended, if you do), you'll want to focus on the following literary elements with your Brave New World analysis:
- Elements of Science Fiction - Find an overview of the elements of science fiction and a lesson plan on writing science fiction by following the link.
- Satire - Huxley satirizes sex, drugs, capitalism, socialism, racism, class consciousness, and government bureaucracy.
- Theme - Brave New World themes include the dangers of big government, the dangers of technology, the dehumanization of the individual, and the consequences of mass consumerism.
- Irony - Civilization is anything but civilized. The savage reads more than civilized citizens. Lenina is considered conventional because she sleeps around. Bernard's sole desire is to fit in to the society he repudiates.
- Genetic Engineering - Brave New World warns of the dangers associated with governmental control of technology. Modern issues involving stem cell research and cloning make for intelligent discussion.
Teachability and Appropriateness
As already mentioned, Brave New World may be too mature for high school. In addition, the language and vocabulary is elevated and Huxley's humorous subtleties are lost on most.