Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, a monumental dystopian novel published in 1932, still resonates with readers today, both young and old. Notions of individuality, industrialization, and essentially, human existence within a modern society, are explored and critiqued in this futuristic novel. Huxley’s novel anticipates all of the benefits of modernity, such as reproduction technology and sleep-learning, while it also brings to light the underbelly of these advancements, such psychological manipulation and human conditioning.
Ranked as one of the “100 Best English-language Novels of the 20th Century” by Modern Library, Brave New World’s narrative forces readers to challenge themselves in tackling topics such as dehumanization, globalization, mass consumerism, and alienation. The title, derived from the character of Miranda’s speech in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, alludes to such lofty juxtapositions as those between the ideals and refinements of civilization and the baseness, “savagery,” and betrayal mankind is capable of imposing on one another.
The ideal society in Brave New World is ruled by the World Controllers who, through genetic engineering, brainwashing, and the use of recreational sex and drugs, have created a seemingly perfect world where its citizens can be described as happy, mindless consumers. However, the protagonist, Bernard Marx, longs to break free from this society. Making the decision to visit one of the very few remaining Savage Reservations, Marx witnesses a world where the imperfections in life still persist. Ironically, it is in this flawed and disease stricken world where Marx discovers truth and attains individual freedom.
Adolescents will enjoy Huxley’s masterpiece; his dystopian fantasy will resonant with readers as it sheds light on the present human condition and the quest for individualism.
Other Dystopian novels students may enjoy:
- The Maze Runner by James Dashner
- The Selection by Kiera Cass
- The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau