This Brave New World anticipation guide prepares students to engage with the novel’s most important topics and themes. Get students questioning and expressing their own views on progress, solitude, freedom of thought, consumerism, and equality before exploring Huxley’s ideas.
This pre-reading worksheet is one of the introduction activities included in the complete Brave New World unit. The PDF file of this handout is ready to print.
Brave New World Anticipation Guide PDF:
Click the link above for the PDF file. Scroll down for a list of the statements that you can cut and paste. This post also includes the lesson plan that accompanies the handout.
More activities for starting Brave New World
Anticipation guides are a great way to start discussions before reading any novel. It plants little seeds about what the novel will involve without giving away the plot. Encouraging students to express their own ideas first always increases engagement later.
For kicking off the Brave New World unit, I also use a presentation with a note-taking handout, a designing a utopia activity, and several writing prompts. Check out Brave New World Pre-reading Activities to learn more.
Statements from the Brave New World anticipation guide:
In creating this guide I tried to compose statements that would introduce as many of the key themes as possible and approach them from an angle that would illicit responses from teenagers.
Individuals should focus on their own happiness. Achieving happiness and enjoying the gift of life is the central goal of living.
This question really aims to get students considering life’s purpose. Hopefully many will argue that there is more to life than having fun.
I worry about my freedom of thought. Governments, corporations, and institutions might be succeeding in their attempts to control my mind.
Most people believe that their minds are free to think without unwelcome influence. Huxley argues against this position, and there are many psychological studies to support his view. One lesson from the unit explores the issue of corporate “brain hacking” through technology and social media.
Human society will eventually progress to a point where suffering is a thing of the past.
The World State of Brave New World claims that suffering is a thing of the past. By 632 AF, humanity is beyond all that. Clues from the narrative suggest that suffering has merely taken a more obscure form. Furthermore, the characters of John and Helmholtz believe that suffering serves a critical purpose.
Advancements in science and technology will solve all our problems.
This is important to consider as pollution and climate change destroy the planet. Will “progress” ultimately destroy the Earth or will technology provide our salvation?
Huxley wrote Brave New World during the Great Depression. Of course, the Great Depression followed a period of profound optimism in Western society. People were largely optimistic about progress in the areas of government, psychology, industry, genetics, and the rest. Despite coming from a family of scientists, Huxley had his doubts.
I occasionally seek solitude. Isolation can be positive.
Helmholtz, John, and even Mustapha Mond value isolation as a means of finding purpose and individuality. Of course, many teenagers loathe isolation, so this statement produces interesting conversations.
I would rather know the truth than remain ignorant – even if knowing the truth might make me miserable.
This statement introduces a question that students will explore at the novel’s conclusion. Would they choose to be an oblivious and happy member of the Brave New World society or would they trade those comforts as Helmholtz does? Helmholtz determines to find his truth away from “civilization” even if it means that he will suffer.
It is acceptable to trade some freedom for happiness and safety.
The social contract requires that we sacrifice some freedoms for the benefit of all. For example, we are not free to steal, murder, or yell “FIRE!” in a crowded theater. How far is too far when it comes to trading freedom for security and comfort? Perhaps some of your students will reveal libertarian or even anarchist leanings.
I love buying stuff, experiences, and/or services. I enjoy trying out new products, judging them, and discussing them with others. In short, being a consumer is a significant part of my life.
“It is a material world, and I am a material girl.” The fun of shopping, choosing, acquiring, and collecting is seductive and even addictive. Consumer culture has obvious detriments, but what are the subtler perils? Does consumerism pacify, influence, or control the populace in insidious ways?
Dating and romance should not be taken too seriously. Dating and romance should be fun and carefree.
This statement always creates a lively controversy with teenage students. Even students who believe that romance should be considered lightly take their views on the subject very seriously.
Equality will ultimately increase. People will be more equal in the future.
Many believe that a perfect society would include equality of opportunity and/or outcome. Is our society moving toward greater equality or profound inequality? Students may be surprised that the World State’s supposed utopia relies on a strictly controlled and clearly unjust caste hierarchy.
Brave New World Theme Subjects
Huxley sure covers a lot of ground in Brave New World. He essentially tackles the meaning of life. Perhaps the most important themes focus on progress, freedom, individuality, and purpose.
Using the Brave New World Anticipation Guide in a lesson
Here is the lesson plan that I use to frame the Brave New World anticipation guide.
Key standard: SL1 Comprehension and Collaboration (discussion)
SL.11-12.1 “Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.”
Broadly speaking, Brave New World is about the meaning of life. Here is an easy question for you: “What is the meaning of life for human beings?”
Fun clip: “The Ultimate Question – The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy” (5 minutes)
Fun clip: “City Slickers – The Secret of Life” (3 minutes)—CONTENT ADVISORY
Let us leave the easy warm-up question on the meaning of life and address some of the specific theme subjects found in Brave New World. Think about each statement on the anticipation guide and agree, disagree, or qualify (to make a response less absolute; add reservations or conditions).
- Complete the Brave New World Anticipation Guide on your own.
- Share and discuss your responses in group.
- Choose one of your discussions to share with the class.
Connected text: “Someone Might Be Watching—An Introduction to Dystopian Fiction” (3 pages) by Shelby Ostergaard
- Based on today’s discussion, make some wild guesses about how the narrative of Brave New World might unfold? Imagine possible scenarios.
- Which of the discussion prompts is most interesting to you? Explain.
- Which theme subject will you address in your final task for the unit? Why did you select this theme subject?
Thank you for checking out this resource.
If you have found the Brave New World anticipation guide helpful, check out all of the resources for teaching Huxley’s visionary masterpiece. The complete unit includes, reading quizzes, a lesson schedule (25 complete lessons with handouts), discussion sets, culminating projects, essay prompts, and a final exam maker.