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Brave New World

Brave New World

by Aldous Huxley

Suffering Theme

Brave New World takes place in a controlled environment where technology has essentially eliminated suffering, and where a widely-used narcotic dulls whatever momentary pains may arise. It soon becomes clear, however, that suffering is a part of the human experience. Without it, the citizens are somehow less-than-human. Self-inflicted pain becomes, for one character, a way to regain his humanity as well as a spiritual cleansing. God, he explains, is a reason for self-denial. This is of course tied to the notion of an afterlife: denying the body in this life will be good for the soul in the afterlife. Christianity especially espouses this theory, as suffering for one's sins is one way to emulate Jesus Christ.

Questions About Suffering

  1. Why does John want to suffer? Is it for the sake of suffering, or for the satisfaction of relief once the suffering is over?
  2. Religion is tied to suffering in Brave New World. John explicitly tells Mustapha that God is a reason for self-denial. If you take away religion, is there any other reason for experiencing pain in Brave New World?
  3. What is the general take on suffering in the Savage Reservation? Is this more or less reasonable than the World State's view on suffering?
  4. Does John commit suicide to end his suffering, or to accentuate it?

Chew on This

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

Despite John's adamant convictions, suffering serves no purpose in Brave New World.

Inflicting pain on oneself is the only path to liberty in Brave New World.

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