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Reading Comprehension | Brave New World by Aldous Huxley


Develop your reading skills. Read the following text about Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and do the comprehension questions


What is Brave New World?

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Brave New World is a dystopian novel which explores a futuristic totalitarian social and political structures. It was written by the English author Aldous Huxley in 1931 and published in 1932. It portrays a futuristic World State, whose citizens are environmentally engineered into an intelligence-based social hierarchy. The novel anticipates huge scientific advancements in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation and classical conditioning that are combined to make a dystopian society which is challenged by only a single individual: the story's protagonist. Although Huxley imagines a world free from pain and suffering, it is, nonetheless, meaningless.

A short summary of the novel

The story takes place in A.F. 632, about seven centuries after the twentieth century in the World State city of London. The abbreviation A.F. stands for After Ford, the incredible industrialist Henry Ford who invented large scale manufacturing procedures. According to the novel, World Controllers rule the world and guarantee the security of society through the conception of a system that consists of different classes. At the top of the system, there are two classes, Alphas, and Betas. They represent the intelligentsia of the social structure. They are mainly scientists, politicians, and other top minds. At the bottom of the system, there are three other classes, namely, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons. They are principally the world's industrial working classes. The whole society lives in a state of eternal happiness thanks to a drug named soma. This drug guarantees that nobody ever feels depressed or experience pain. The members of every class receive provisions of the drug. This 'brave new world' is also characterized by pre- and post-natal conditioning which further guarantees peaceful social stability.

Religion in Brave New World

Who is God in Brave New World?

God is replaced by, on the one hand, Ford, the father of industrial mass production, and on the other hand, the mind-altering drugs called soma - According to Huxley it is a sort of Christianity without tears. The distinctive symbol of the Christian faith, the cross, is replaced by a deformed T, which symbolizes the T-Model invented by the renowned industrialist, Ford.

What is the main message of Brave New World?

One of the most salient messages of Brave New World is the alarm raised by Huxley against the dangers of technology. Using scientific and technological advances to control society may give more power to totalitarian states to change the way human beings think and act. Relying on technologies may end up controlling human beings and stifling freedom. The real meaning of freedom is another theme discussed by Aldous Huxley. Lenina, one of the characters in the novel, insists that everyone has a great deal of freedom in the World State. It is the freedom to get whatever you want and to have a wonderful time. But is it really freedom? Soma, the drug that everyone has a right to, transform people into a hypnotic state in which they don't have to question things and accept the so-called happy life it provides them with.

Another message Brave New World tries to convey is related to self-gratification and happiness. Is always satisfying desire conducive to real happiness? The World State makes sure that all its citizens get precisely what they desire all the time. But what is the cost of this so-called happiness? The novel shows that the price of this superficial happiness is false stability. It is stability at the expense of deep thinking and true passion. It is a stability that eliminates human experience as enriching and character-forming.

Why is Brave New World banned?

Since its publication, Brave New World has been the target of so much criticism for supposed emphasis on sex and drugs and being anti-family and anti-religion. It has been subject to censorship many times. The American Library Association ranks Brave New World as No. 52 on their list of most challenged books.

Sources: Wikipedia

Comprehension:

  1. Brave New World was written and published in 1931.
    a. True
    b. False
  2. The World State imagined by Huxley is not egalitarian.
    a. True
    b. False
  3. Citizens in the World State are atheist.
    a. True
    b. False
  4. The novel recieved wide acclaim.
    a. True
    b. False

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