1. Define motif. Explain the significance of each motif: promiscuity, lack of family unit, drugs/ escapism, conditioning, worship of Ford, being an outcast, technology, caste system, cloning.
Motif: any recurring element that has symbolic significance in a story. Huxley’s use of promiscuity in brave new world helps show the breakdown of tradition. Encouraging promiscuity discourages traditional familial and governmental structures. The lack of the family unit is also significant because it shows how great and how expansive the governments control is. Without families to instruct children in areas such as morality or preparation for a future, governmental and corporate entities shape young minds to their will. The rampant use of drugs and escapism is significant to the story because they show that people are unhappy under the system they are in, even though it seems like a Utopia. If they need Soma to escape, they need something to escape from. The use of these crutches suggests that life in the Brave New World is not as pleasant as it may appear on the surface.
Ford worship is significant because it shows how complete the government’s war on tradition is.. By turning Ford into a God, the society places science and progress above principles like loving your neighbor or helping the poor. The idea of being an outcast is also important to Brave New World, because without outcasts there would be no one to challenge the status quo. Although some of the things that occurred in this world might be unsavory, they would mean less if the reader did not have the chance to look through the eyes of someone suffering from the inequalities this world created. The recurring references to a caste system are also important because they show how unequal and unfair a Utopian society which values progress over tradition can be. Cloning is significant because it shows the way in which governmental entities control the masses even from birth and because it shows people being treated as products on an assembly line, rather than as beings with souls.
2. Define theme. Change three of the motifs into possible themes of the novel.
Theme: a central or unifying idea. A possible theme – drawn from the motif of promiscuity – might be the idea that promiscuity breeds loneliness. Linda, for instance, is abandoned on an island after she has an affair with the most powerful man in her society. Another possible theme of the novel, drawn from the motif of Ford worship is the idea that worshipping machines may lead men to devalue people. While worshipping Ford and celebrating the supremacy of the Alphas, society devalues those who are different and frowns on diversity. A third theme, drawn from the motif of the lack of a family unit might be that living apart from family life and family values leaves people open to manipulation and control. Without guidance from a real mother figure or father figure, Bernard becomes bitter and unpleasant. Linda, having grown up in the society, fails to show her son any motherly love. Instead she acts like a child and even beats him when he inconveniences her. Had she been taught to be a mother or if motherhood has not been scorned, she might have had a better life and she might have given her son a better life.
3. Define irony. Give and explain two examples of irony in the novel.
Irony is communication through opposites. One example of it occurs in the following passage:
“He patted me on the behind this afternoon,’ said Lenina.
”There, you see!’ Fanny was triumphant. `That shows what he stands for. The strictest conventionality.’” (p.42)
Huxley uses irony here to emphasize the difference between traditional morality and the morality of his new world. The very title of the novel is ironic. When Miranda, in The Tempest, says the words, “Oh Brave New World!” she means it. The people she sees are wonderful to her. When Huxley uses the term, he means the opposite. His new world is horrible. The people in it are anything but admirable.
4. Define mood. Give an example of the mood you felt while reading this novel. Explain.
Mood is the emotional atmosphere of a piece. There is a certain lightheartedness about Brave New World, even though the subject matter is serious. The reader almost gets the sense that Huxley is laughing at his characters. In the beginning, at least, I felt very cheery while reading about the lives of Bernard, Tom and Lenina. Yet the mood towards the end as John the Savage becomes more desperate is less happy and by the end I felt very angry at those who had pushed John to end his life.
5. Define tone.
Tone is the author’s attitude towards a subject. The tone of this novel is ironic and darkly playful. Huxley seems both amused and alarmed about the future follies of men and women. He writes as if he is speaking to a friend, but he writes in a way that highlights the evils of certain kinds of change.
6. Define allusion. Give an example of an allusion in the novel. Why was it important?
Allusion is a reference to a famous person, event or literature. Give an example of an allusion in the novel. Why was it important? One example of Allusion is Bernard’s expression,
“Ford how I hate them!” (p.53) This expression demonstrates that Ford has taken the place of God in society.