Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World"

Questions for Study and Discussion

A selection of Brave New World covers.

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"Brave New World" is one of the most controversial and best-known works by Aldous Huxley, an English writer/philosopher who authored more than 50 books. In this dystopian novel first published in 1932, Huxley foretold many technological advances—including test-tube babies, immersive entertainment systems, and sleep-learning. The World State in which the novel takes place has been engineered by its leaders to be devoid of strong emotions, passion, and longterm personal relationships. Here, children are manufactured, not born. Once created, they are conditioned, intellectually and physically, to mature into adults who will satisfy the strictures of predetermined caste roles. The novel has been listed as one of the top English-language books of the 20th century. It's often read in English classes and is a popular choice in book clubs. Some view it as a cautionary tale, while others see it as satire. Here are a few questions for study and discussion.

"Brave New World" Study and Discussion Questions

  • What is the importance of the title?
  • Why is the society in "Brave New World" considered dystopian rather than utopian? Do you agree? Would you want to live in the World State? Why or Why not?
  • How do you think the culture in Huxley's World State compares to our current culture? Why did John find the World State to be an empty society? 
  • What are the main conflicts in the novel? What types of conflict (physical, moral, intellectual, or emotional) did you take note of?
  • Does Aldous Huxley reveal his own character in his writing?
  • What are some themes in the story? How do they relate to the plot and characters?
  • What are some symbols in "Brave New World"? How do they relate to the plot and characters?
  • Is Bernard consistent in his actions? Who is he? How does he relate with others? What is his position in society? Is he a fully developed character? How? Why?
  • Compare/contrast Bernard with John (the Savage).
  • How does the Reservation compare with Bernard's society?
  • How do you feel about the use of the drug soma in the novel? Would you take soma if it were available?
  • Do you find the characters likable? Are the characters people you would want to meet?
  • Does the story end the way you expected it would? What led you to this conclusion?
  • What is the central or primary purpose of the story? Is the purpose important or meaningful?
  • How essential is setting to the story? Could the story have taken place anywhere else?
  • Why has the book been controversial?
  • Is "Brave New World" believable? Do you think its main events could really take place?
  • What is the role of women in the text? How are mothers represented? What about single/independent women?
  • Do you think "Brave New World" exhibits feminist ideas?
  • Do you think the World Society has actually achieved the racial and gender equality it claims to have? Why or why not?
  • What do you think of the roles of freemartins in the World State? Are they an oppressed group?
  • Would you recommend this novel to a friend?