Study Guide

Brave New World Freedom and Confinement

By Aldous Huxley

Freedom and Confinement

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The citizens of Brave New World's futuristic society are in a constant state of imprisonment. But, just like your trusty family dog, they've been conditioned to love their servitude and no one seems to have any problem with it. 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 catchphrases, drugs, and promiscuity—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 instinctswhether 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

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 merely the sexual arena.

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