Course Hero Logo

Brave New World

Aldous Huxley

Get the eBook on Amazon to study offline.

Buy on Amazon Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "Brave New World Study Guide." Course Hero. 27 Oct. 2016. Web. 28 May 2023. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2016, October 27). Brave New World Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved May 28, 2023, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2016)



Course Hero. "Brave New World Study Guide." October 27, 2016. Accessed May 28, 2023.


Course Hero, "Brave New World Study Guide," October 27, 2016, accessed May 28, 2023,

Brave New World | Discussion Questions 41 - 50


What does Mustapha Mond mean when he says, "Happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensation for misery" in Chapter 16 of Brave New World?

The cliché "Misery loves company" has endured for decades because all people suffer various degrees of despair and unhappiness. They want to know that they are not alone with their sadness and despair, and some find it comforting. Others want to talk about their distress in the hope that the discussion might shed light on a solution or two. The attempts people can make to try to overcome their desolation are as limitless as their convictions. People's efforts to overcome seemingly overwhelming challenges can be stimulating to others. Happiness offers no struggle. Mustapha Mond understands, as do all writers, playwrights, poets, and lyricists, that conflict sells. But it cannot be allowed in the State.

What is ironic about Mond's optimum population model and his contention that the Bokanovsky Groups are the keystone of the World State's foundation in Brave New World?

The Controller's contention that they are the heart of the World State is an example of dramatic irony, in which the audience knows something the characters do not. The lower castes are overused, overlooked, and treated with no importance. The work they do makes the Alphas and Betas look good, and they do all of this for a daily ration of soma. Mond explains that like an iceberg, the World States' optimum population model demands that eight-ninths of the people are unnoticed, meaning only one-ninth is actually observed. The Alphas and Betas make up one-ninth of the population, and the Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons fill the other eight slots. In most societies, the people who are unseen and unheard form the majority of the workforce, but they are not respected. They are considered the most dispensable, not the most necessary. After al,l Podsnap's Technique makes it possible to decant scores more whenever the need arises.

Regarding the conversation between Mustapha Mond and John in Chapter 16 of Brave New World, how does change undermine the World State's motto: Community, Identity, Stability?

Mustapha Mond contends "Every change is a menace to stability" because it could undermine the State's control of every aspect of society. A slight modification in Alpha embryos could result in more Bernard or Helmholtz types. This is a recipe for anarchy. If the Solidarity Service group members crossed the fine line between rapture and revulsion, mob rule might reign. Change causes some people so much anxiety that, instead of rebellion, they would fall into depression, causing a work stoppage and the collapse of the economy. Many people are comforted by structure, even when their freedom might be denied because they always know what to expect. Any alterations in the stability and identify factors of the formula could possibly negate any sense of community. That is not a chance any of the 10 Controllers will take.

In Chapter 16 of Brave New World, what does the Controller's comment "Happiness is a hard master" reveal about his motivation for choosing leadership over the study of science?

Mustapha rejected his love of pure science for the power and challenge of controlling a sector of the population. He had the choice of moving to an island where he could pursue pure science without any government obstruction, or to opt for the path to Controllership. Obviously his passion for exploring scientific discovery was a poor second when he was offered the opportunity to control hundreds of thousands of people. In the long run he couldn't turn his back on the power appeal, even if it did mean he had to find a way to make all of the people happy all of the time instead of ensuring his own happiness some of the time. His comment "I make the laws here, I can also break them" guarantees his eternal happiness.

How does Mond justify his hypocrisy for believing God is incompatible with their world with his reading of the "smutty" books about God in Chapter 17 of Brave New World?

Mustapha Mond believes that learning why people turned to religion in the past has enabled him to help create a society that abolishes the people's need for God. Now that scientists can keep people chemically and physically youthful, no one has to fear old age or death. People are inoculated against all diseases as embryos, and their desires have been addressed through the consumer-driven civilization. Mond has decided that machines and mass production keep everyone happy and that makes God superfluous. Ironically, he has used his power to decree that religious books are smut for the general population, but he is intelligent enough not to be swayed by them. His comment that religion has "always had a great interest for me" suggests he is searching for answers that may be the same ones he denies the citizens.

Why is the Reservation, where people balance sorrow and joy, a stronger society than one that removes all suffering as John contends in Chapter 17 of Brave New World?

Standing up to adversity often makes people stronger. Floating through life on a bed of happiness can leave people defenseless. John refers to this when he says, "Life is too easy." Instead of genetically creating people with a few tools they can use when facing life's unpleasantness, the government provides soma to drive away their displeasure. If John hadn't had so much hardship to face on the Reservation, he never would have found the courage to defend his mother's honor. The ostracism he faced and his mother's constantly shifting feelings toward him force him to find the inner strength and resilience to withstand his own arduous rituals in the mountains. Word State citizens have no survival skills—emotional, intellectual, or physical—to depend on in a situation that threatens their own existence or that of the World State.

How are the beliefs of people in any society, from free to oppressive, controlled by conditioning as the Controller contends in Chapter 17 of Brave New World?

If all people are conditioned to abide by the directives of a ruling group or ideology—as John Donne said "No man is an island, Entire of itself" in his poem "For Whom the Bell Tolls"—this thought suggests the necessity for societal guidelines. Some organizations' guidelines are oppressively restrictive, and they condition their population to be obedient in every aspect of their lives, no matter how small. Open-ended ideologies will have set rules to guarantee the citizens "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Since the meanings of these qualities depend on each person's viewpoint, the ruling body allows parameters for interpretation as long as they don't infringe on the rights of others. People are trained to live life on their terms within legal and moral guidelines. The amount of mind control is up to the governing body and the people's compliance to this practice.

How does Bernard Marx's and Helmholtz Watson's independent thinking raise the probability of someone questioning the Before aspect of the After Ford designation in Chapter 17 of Brave New World?

The possibility of wondering "If there is an After, what is the Before?" becomes greater with every thinking individual who vocalizes his feelings. Someday an enhanced Gamma, Delta, or Epsilon will stumble on an artifact from the past, dug up in a field of chemically engineered green beans. Perhaps a piece of an anthrax bomb casing from the Nine Years' War will surface—with the country of origin and the date engraved on it. With all of the intelligent Alphas exiled to islands, the probability that some of them will figure out how to pass along chapters of history or literature to World State citizens is high. Suppression of past history, literature, or ideologies is successful only if all avenues of what if thought are permanently closed. Because of its needs, the World State will never accomplish this.

Considering John's chosen ostracism and the exile imposed on Bernard and Helmholtz in Chapter 18 of Brave New World, which of them will achieve his desired independence and contentment?

Since Helmholtz doesn't only think but also acts, he is the best candidate for achieving a contented life. Instead of being repressed by the wrath of the authorities for his solitude poem, he is energized. His students' negativity inspires him to enjoy the power of words. He is delighted to be exiled and have the freedom to express himself. John is too narrow and rigid in his thinking. If he cannot find a morally acceptable compromise between his traditional mindset and the more liberal world in which he lives, he will never find a life worth living. Bernard is too immersed in his surliness to do more than whine. More concerned with others' impressions of him than in the strength of his own nonconformist thinking, he refuses to stand up for his friends or his own individuality. Contentment is not in his future.

Do the diverse philosophies that John has experienced and those who hound him share responsibility for John's suicide in Brave New World, or is the accountability only John's?

All of these factors play a part in John's decision to take his life in Chapter 18. He is so confused by the divergent philosophies that play havoc with his head and heart that he can't resolve the conflict. If he is to enjoy the pure life he desires and the modern civilization in which he lives, he must determine a balance between both ideologies. He could have chosen to go to the Falkland Islands with Helmholtz to give himself a chance to think on neutral territory. Instead he chose "the right to be unhappy." The media and crowds' actions prove mob hysteria can be intimidating and cause unbearable pressure. Add his lust for Lenina and drugs, and a perfect storm ensues. John is not under the constraints of the World State at the lighthouse. He possesses full responsibility for his life or death. The other factors contribute to the orgy, but his inability to forgive himself is too much for him to bear. He is accountable for his suicide.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Brave New World? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!