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Brave New World summary

Aldous Huxley

A Dystopian Novel on the Perils of State Control & New Technology

4.5 (345 ratings)
29 mins

Brief summary

'Brave New World' by Aldous Huxley is a dystopian novel that imagines a future society where people are engineered and conditioned to be happy, but lack individuality and free will. The story follows a man who challenges the system and the consequences that follow.

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    Brave New World
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    Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Center

    Community, Identity, Stability. That’s the motto of the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Center. 

    Inside, laboratory workers in white overalls handle microscopes and test tubes with white-gloved fingers. The tubes make long lines along the work tables, and the light entering the room appears lifeless and frozen. We’re in the Fertilizing Room, where new people are created. In the World State, children have no parents –⁠ the very word “mother” is considered obscene –⁠ and everyone is created in a lab. 

    Eggs aren’t just extracted and fertilized at the Center; they’re also conditioned. Categorization happens as soon as a group of ova is fertilized. The Alphas and Betas – the eggs destined to become important members of society – are placed into incubators. The others –⁠ Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons –⁠ undergo Bokanovsky’s Process, a cloning procedure that results in up to ninety-six identical human beings. This process is key to social stability: it produces standardized human beings in uniform batches. 

    Regardless of their social status, all fetuses are predestined and conditioned. Seventy percent are made sterile, so there’s no chance of uncontrolled reproduction. From infancy, they’re conditioned to have an instinctive hatred of books and flowers –⁠ both things that have the potential to disrupt the social order. They also receive hypnopaedic lessons –⁠ canned phrases projected into their minds while they’re asleep, which produce a subconscious, instinctual understanding of society’s moral values. 

    Other infants receive more specific types of conditioning. For instance, some are taught to detest being cold. This will inspire them to emigrate to the tropics, where they will associate their love of heat with a love of whatever job they’re assigned there. 

    And that, according to the theory of the World State, is the key to happiness: liking what you need to do. All conditioning is aimed toward the goal of making people not only accept, but enjoy, their fate.

    ANALYSIS

    The setup at the Central London Hatchery shows, in a microcosm, the values of the dystopian society in Brave New World. Unlike in other dystopias, society isn’t controlled through violence, outright oppression, or totalitarianism. Instead, the mechanism of control is made up of a tightly managed and predetermined social hierarchy, psychological conditioning, and eugenics.

    By predestining the members of society to have a certain fate – and, crucially, to be happy about that fate, social stability is maintained. There is no risk of people rebelling, protesting, or rioting, because they are perfectly happy as they already are. 

    The conditions at the hatchery also present a clear difference between Brave New World and its philosophical counterpart, 1984. Though there is a certain amount of social conditioning in both novels, Brave New World takes it to an extreme. As you saw in this section, infants are taught to instinctively hate books and flowers. A love of flowers is risky because it inspires people to go out into the countryside and wander – and such activities don’t keep the factories running. Reading, meanwhile, is dangerous because words have the power to break someone’s social conditioning. 

    The safest solution? Make sure no one is interested in books or flowers in the first place. 

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    What is Brave New World about?

    Brave New World (1932) is a dystopian novel set in a world where citizens are socially engineered to be complacent and pleasure-seeking. It’s a world that worships Henry Ford –⁠ a scaled-up version of an assembly line that’s mass produced, homogenous, and ultimately consumable. 

    Brave New World Review

    Brave New World (1932) by Aldous Huxley paints a dystopian picture of a future society where control and conformity reign supreme. Here's why this thought-provoking book is worth reading:

    • It explores profound philosophical themes such as individuality vs. conformity, the limits of technology, and the nature of happiness.
    • The book's imaginative and chilling vision of the future captivates readers, prompting them to reflect on the potential consequences of an overly controlled society.
    • Through its compelling characters and intricate plot, Huxley's masterpiece evokes an emotional response and sparks deep contemplation, making it a truly engaging read.

    Best quote from Brave New World

    And that … that is the secret of happiness and virtue –⁠ liking what youve got to do. All conditioning aims at that: making people like their unescapable social destiny.

    —Aldous Huxley
    example alt text

    Who should read Brave New World?

    • Anyone fascinated by dystopias, utopias, and everything in between
    • People concerned about the state of modern society
    • Fans of George Orwell who want a very different take on dystopia

    About the Author

    Aldous Huxley was an English writer and philosopher most famous for his dystopian novel, Brave New World, and its utopian counterpart, The Island. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature nine times and made major contributions to the philosophy of universalism and philosophical mysticism in his work The Perennial Philosophy. In his later years, he became interested in psychedelics, and he documented his experience on the drug mescaline in a now-famous short treatise called The Doors of Perception. 

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    Brave New World FAQs 

    What is the main message of Brave New World?

    The main message of Brave New World is a warning about the dangers of a society controlled by technology and mass consumption.

    How long does it take to read Brave New World?

    The reading time for Brave New World can vary, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Brave New World a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Brave New World is a thought-provoking read that explores themes of technology, conformity, and individuality. It's definitely worth reading.

    Who is the author of Brave New World?

    Aldous Huxley is the author of Brave New World.

    What to read after Brave New World?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Brave New World, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch
    • Animal Farm by George Orwell
    • Secrets of Sand Hill Road by Scott Kupor
    • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
    • Zero to One by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters
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