The novel opens in London in A.F. 632 (AD 2540 in the Gregorian calendar). The society described above is illuminated by the activities of two of the novel's central characters Lenina Crowne and Bernard Marx, and the other characters with whom they come into contact. Lenina, a hatchery worker, is socially accepted and contented, but Bernard, a psychologist in the Directorate of Hatcheries and Conditioning, is not. He is shorter in stature than the average of his Alpha caste — a quality shared by the lower castes, which gives him an inferiority complex. His intelligence and his work with hypnopaedia allow him to understand, and disapprove of, the methods by which society is sustained. Courting disaster, he is vocal and arrogant about his differences. Bernard is mocked by other Alphas because of his stature, as well as for his individualistic tendencies, and is threatened with exile to Iceland because of his nonconformity. His only friend is Helmholtz Watson, a lecturer at the College of Emotional Engineering. The friendship is based on their feelings of being misfits (in the context of the World State), but unlike Bernard, Watson's sense of alienation stems from being exceptionally gifted, intelligent, handsome, and physically strong. Helmholtz is drawn to Bernard as a confidant.
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"Community, Identity, Stability" is the motto of Aldous Huxley's utopian World State. Here everyone consumes daily grams of soma, to fight depression, babies are born in laboratories, and the most popular form of entertainment is a "Feelie," a movie that stimulates the senses of sight, hearing, and touch. Though there is no violence and everyone is provided for, Bernard Marx feels something is missing and senses his relationship with a young women has the potential to be much more than the confines of their existence allow. Huxley foreshadowed many of the practices and gadgets we take for granted today--let's hope the sterility and absence of individuality he predicted aren't yet to come.From the Back Cover:
The astonishing novel Brave New World, originally published in 1932, presents Aldous Huxley's legendary vision of a world of tomorrow utterly transformed. In Huxley's darkly satiric yet chillingly prescient imagining of a "utopian" future, humans are genetically designed and pharmaceutically anesthetized to passively serve a ruling order. A powerful work of speculative fiction that has enthralled and terrified readers for generations, it remains remarkably relevant to this day as both a warning to be heeded and as a thought-provoking yet satisfying entertainment.
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