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Brave New World An Introduction.

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1 Brave New World An Introduction

2 What is utopia? What is dystopia?
Write your own definitions now.

3 Utopian and Dystopian Literature
Utopia (definition): refers to fictional writings that present an ideal but nonexistent political and social way of life First Utopian work: Plato’s Republic, in which Plato (c B.C.E), through the persona of Socrates, describes the ideal state

4 The Utopian Assumption
The world as it is, is not what it ought to be, but at the same time, it’s not what it has to be, and it can and should be changed.

5 Origin of term From Renaissance humanist Sir Thomas More, whose book Utopia describes a perfect commonwealth. More formed his title by conflating the Greek words “eutopia” (good place) and “outopia” (no place).

6 Dystopian Literature Dystopia (definition): literally, “bad place.” Dystopian literature may best be defined as anti-utopian; the imaginary societies it portrays are the very opposite of ideal. Much newer genre than utopian literature, referring to works of fiction that represent a very unpleasant imaginary world in which ominous tendencies of our present social, political, and technological order are projected into a disastrous future culmination.

7 Brave New World is an example of a dystopia – a possible horrible world of the future.
Often compared to 1984 (written 1948), another famous dystopian work. 1984’s author George Orwell (real name Eric Blair) was a student of Huxley’s at Eton.

8 Life of Huxley ( ) Came from a background of privilege and intellectual opportunity. On his father’s side - grandson of Thomas Henry Huxley, the famous biologist who helped develop the Theory of Evolution. On his mother’s side – great nephew of famous poet and critic Matthew Arnold

9 According to Gerald Heard (a friend), Huxley’s ancestry “brought down on him a weight of intellectual authority and a momentum of moral obligations.” Brave New World evidences Huxley’s ambivalence toward the authority of a ruling class.

10 Travels, 1925-1926 Huxley first visits the United States.
He liked the confidence, vitality, and “generous extravagance” of American life, but not this vitality was channeled into amusement and distraction. Huxley: “It was all movement and noise, like the water gurgling out of a bath – down the waste. Yes, down the waste.” This impression would contribute to the vision of a society dedicated to perpetual happiness contained in Brave New World.

11 Brave New World Written in 4 months in 1931 – BEFORE Adolph Hitler came to power in Germany . . . and BEFORE Joseph Stalin started the aggression that started the killing of millions of people in the Soviet Union.

12 Influences on Huxley and Brave New World
Anglican Church becomes first Christian denomination to “legalize” contraception. Huxley, an agnostic, thought this decision would prove tragic for the world.

13 Darwin and Eugenics In the 19th century, Darwin’s theory of natural selection (survival of the fittest) produced the idea that some humans were less fit, less worthy to procreate. In 1908, The Eugenics Society began studying ways to breed a “better human animal.”

14 Margaret Sanger and her followers pushed contraception as a way to limit the breeding of the “human weeds,” as she called them. In fascist Italy, Benito Mussolini led an authoritarian govt. that fought birth control in order to produce enough manpower for the next war.

15 Impact of these events Huxley felt that heredity made each individual unique, and the uniqueness of the individual was essential to freedom. Huxley thus saw such efforts to control human reproduction—by people like Sanger and Mussolini—as a potential threat to freedom. He was also influenced by reading of books critical of the Soviet Union.

16 Later Years In the 1950’s participated in an experiment in which he took mescaline, a derivative of peyote Wrote about his experience in The Doors of Perception. Explores the value of such drugs for expanding consciousness This is ironic given the strong feelings he expresses in Brave New World against taking such drugs.

17 The title taken from 18th century poet William Blake: “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite” (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell). The ’60s band The Doors took their name from the title of Huxley’s book.

18 “I wanted to change the world
“I wanted to change the world. But I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself.” – Aldous Huxley

19 Satirical Commentary Although the novel is set in the future it deals with contemporary issues of the early 20th century. The Industrial Revolution had transformed the world. Mass production had made cars, telephones, and radios relatively cheap and widely available throughout the developed world. The political, cultural, economic and sociological upheavals of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the First World War (1914–1918) were resonating throughout the world as a whole and the individual lives of most people.

20 Characters Polly Trotsky (Leon Trotsky)
Benito Hoover (Benito Mussolini; Herbert Hoover) Lenina Crowne (Vladimir Lenin; John Crowne) Fanny Crowne (Fanny Brawne; John Crowne) Mustapha Mond (Mustafa Kemal Atatürk; Alfred Mond and Ludwig Mond, at whose factory Huxley worked for a time, which helped to inspire the novel) Helmholtz Watson (Hermann von Helmholtz; John B. Watson) Henry Foster (Henry Ford) Bernard Marx (George Bernard Shaw; Karl Marx) Morgana Rothschild (The Rothschild banking family) Joanna Diesel (Rudolf Diesel) Fifi Bradlaugh (Charles Bradlaugh) Sarojini Engels (Sarojini Naidu; Friedrich Engels) Clara Deterding (Henri Deterding) Tom Kawaguchi (Ekai Kawaguchi) Herbert Bakunin (Herbert George Wells; Mikhail Bakunin).

21 Major Themes in BNW The Use of Technology to Control Society
Consumerism The Incompatibility of Happiness and Truth The Dangers of an All-Powerful State The Pursuit of Pleasure (Hedonism) The Individual vs. Society

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