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Brave New World

Brave New World

by Aldous Huxley

Freedom and Confinement Theme

The citizens of Brave New World's futuristic society are in a constant state of imprisonment. But because they've been conditioned to love their servitude, no one seems to have any problem with this. Well, almost no one. As one character so deftly points out, being happy all the time is its own sort of prison; being a human is about having the right to be unhappy. The prison bars are made of brainwashing sayings, of drugs and promiscuity, and not of iron or steel. Because confinement happens in the mind, so too is freedom a mental state.

Questions About Freedom and Confinement

  1. What is the difference between natural instinct and the "instinctual" feelings that the citizens of the World State have been conditioned to feel? Is there a difference at all?
  2. If everyone is always going to be driven by instincts – whether instilled by a recorded voice or by the force of evolution – can any one ever really be free to make his own choices?
  3. Which character is the most liberated in Brave New World?
  4. Come to think of it, what would it even mean to be free in this novel?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The hypnopaedic phrase "everyone belongs to everyone else" is the perfect epigraph to Brave New World: no one is free, and every one partakes in subjugating every one else. This phrase goes much further than the merely sexual arena.

John is as much a prisoner of conditioning as are the adults of the civilized world.

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