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Free Study Guide-Brave New World by Aldous Huxley-Free Booknotes
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PLOT STRUCTURE ANALYSIS

Although Brave New World is a poignant warning against the dangers of a conformist totalitarian society based on scientific principles, it lacks a wholeness. Even Huxley himself admitted in 1946 that the novel lacked philosophical and artistic completeness. Since the author used the novel as a forum to express many of his varied ideas, content rather than form is all-important. Although Huxley succeeds in developing his main theme; scientific advancement and its impact on humanity, the plot becomes secondary to the message.

Although the plot is a simplistic one of the old vs. the new and individual freedom vs. totalitarianism, it is not developed in the traditional manner. In fact it really lacks unity of time, place and character. Although the main action of the plot occurs within a year, the flashbacks that interrupt the normal chronology of the plot make it span almost a lifetime, from when Linda is abandoned on the Savage Reservation beyond the point when she dies. Although Bernard occupies much of the novel, from the very beginning to almost the end of the novel, he is not the central character or protagonist. Instead, John the Savage is the key character, and he is not even introduced in the book until the seventh chapter, one-third of the way through the entire novel. In a similar manner, the action is not united by a singular plot, for a significant portion occurs away from the brave new world at the Savage Reservation. In fact the action is almost episodic and sometimes seems like a montage, where diverse actions and speeches are truncated and juxtaposed in ironic contrasts.


Several things help to hold the plot together. The book, above all, focuses on the nature and demands of the new world, which are given in detail. In fact the scientific and conformist new order is always in the background, even on the Savage Reservation; in their isolation, Linda and John always dream about the brave new world. Also in the course of the novel, Huxley explores how the new world affects all the key characters, including the Savage, Linda, Bernard, Helmholtz, and the Controller. Once John is introduced in Chapter 7, he becomes the focal point of the story and remains the point of interest until the very end, when he commits suicide. The point of view is also consistent throughout the novel. An omniscient voice narrates the whole story in third person. The narrator's sympathies obviously lie with the people from the old world, specifically John and Linda.

The greatest weakness of the novel is its lack of a definitive conclusion and its deviation from normal plot construction. There is an extremely well-developed exposition (or introduction); in fact, it comprises the first seven chapters of the book, as the setting of the brave new world is explained and developed and the major characters are introduced. The rising action begins with Bernard's suggestion that John leave the reservation with him and go to the brave new world that he has dreamed about. The rest of the plot centers on John's disillusion with the new society that he encounters and climaxes with his debate with the Controller, when it becomes obvious that the Savage has no place in the brave new world, which cannot allow for his differences. The falling action centers on John's move to the lighthouse in an attempt to find a place for himself. Unfortunately, the crowds descend upon him there, mentally torturing him to the point of dementia. The conclusion comes with his decision to hang himself. Although the conclusion is not definitive, it strongly suggests that it is impossible for the old and the new, the emotional and the scientific to co-exist. The confusion in the plot comes from the fact that Huxley sees good and bad in both the old and new orders.

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