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Brave New World

Brave New World

by Aldous Huxley

Literature and Writing Theme

In the futuristic dystopia of Brave New World, "history is bunk," literature is outlawed, and the only kinds of serious writing are the sleep-teachings used to condition children to function as ideal members of society. Two characters in particular try to reject this: one who finds in Shakespeare the means to express his own passions, and the other with a desire to write poetry of beauty and passion. Literature becomes a means of finding the self, of rebelling against conformity, and of seeking both truth and beauty, even at the cost of ignorant bliss.

Questions About Literature and Writing

  1. What is the difference between the way John looks at Shakespeare and the way Helmholtz does? Can Helmholtz ever overcome the limitations of his conditioning to appreciate the works as John does?
  2. Helmholtz claims that beautiful, passionate prose can only be written if it focuses on beautiful and passionate subject matter. Is this true?
  3. Helmholtz wants to write about something passionate, but he laughs at the intense emotions in Romeo and Juliet. He seeks some big, important subject matter that he hasn't been conditioned to undervalue. Does anything like this exist, or is he doomed?

Chew on This

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

Both John and Helmholtz are so marred by their upbringing that neither can understand the full scope of Shakespeare.

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