Brave New World Unit featured

Brave New World Unit Plan for High School

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Guiding novel study challenges even the most expert teachers. This is especially true with a mind-bending masterpiece like Brave New World. This Brave New World unit plan addresses the essential literary and contextual elements of the novel while leaving room for flexibility and creativity.

Overview: Brave New World Unit

  • Pre-reading: Welcome to Brave New World
  • Reading 1 (Chs. 1-3): Where Do Babies Come From?
  • Reading 2 (Chs. 4-6): Hypnopedia Britannica
  • Reading 3 (Chs. 7-10): Classical Conditioning, Lenina, and You
  • Reading 4 (Chs. 11-14): What’s Shakespeare Got to Do with It?
  • Reading 5 (Chs. 15-18): The Two Johns / Biblical Allusions
  • Final Task: Symbol Hunt

These Brave New World lessons align to the Common Core standards for reading literature, reading informational texts, speaking and listening, and writing. Four lessons accompany each reading, but many of the lessons could be used at different points depending on your teaching objectives.


Brave New World Lesson Plans: Pre-reading

Welcome to Brave New World (slideshow)

Brave New World Introduction Powerpoint Slides

Before Huxley’s soul-crushing dystopia envelops your students, prepare them with this Brave New World Introduction PowerPoint.  The first part of the presentation explores the concept of dystopia, introduces Huxley’s imagined society, and gives an overview of the historical context. The second part previews the unit structure and goals.

I use a note-taking page to help students summarize the key information. If you intend to give students a Brave New World packet, this could be the first page.

A New Utopia

future city residents - Edited

This lesson takes students through a profound thought experiment. What might the most perfect human society look like? How would this utopia minimize or even eliminate societal problems?  Furthermore, how could the best intentions of the designers go horribly awry?

Collaborative groups start by establishing the overarching goals and values of the society and then move toward specific ideas about the society will work.

BRAVE NEW WORLD WORKSHEET: UTOPIA (PDF)

Anticipation Guide: Introducing the Theme Subjects

Anticipation Guide PDF

BRAVE NEW WORLD ANTICIPATION GUIDE (PDF)

Anticipation guides are a great way to start discussions before reading any novel. Pointing out theme subjects in advance enables students to read with purpose. Encouraging students to express their own ideas first always increases engagement later.

This anticipation guide prepares students to engage with the novel’s most important topics and themes. Students evaluate and express their own views on progress, solitude, suffering, freedom of thought, romance, consumerism, and equality before exploring Huxley’s ideas.


Brave New World Lesson Plans: Reading 1

Where Do Babies Come From?

Huxley introduces his Brave New World through a visit to the Hatchery and Conditioning Centre – the baby factory. “The principle of mass production at last applied to biology.” The specifics of the tour can overwhelm the reader, but students can get a better understanding by thinking about each room separately. (This is important as features of the tour have symbolic/allegorical meaning.)

Ask students to create a visual and an audio tour message for one stop in the Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. They should include the most important terms and elements and explain the processes in visitor-friendly language. Complete the fictional field trip by presenting all of the tour stops in order and having students reflect on the author’s purpose.

BRAVE NEW WORLD LESSON WORKSHEET (PDF)

Speculative Fiction: “The Perfect Match”

For this lesson, students analyze other examples of speculative fiction (especially dystopia short stories).  An understanding of the strengths, conventions, and themes of the genre will aid them as they move forward in the Brave New World Unit.

You could read one example as a class, but I prefer to break the class into small groups and assign each group a short story to analyze and present.  This jigsaw approach allows the class to discuss several examples expediently.  A graphic organizer ensures that students analyze the premise, specific speculations, and the main themes.

Reading suggestions:

Fragmented Narration (choral reading)

Brave New World Fragmented Reading

The narrative structure and point of view of Chapter 3 deserve special attention.  Have students perform a choral reading (nine reading parts) to highlight the effects of the fragmented telling.  Afterwards, students will analyze the effects of this device on the telling and the experience of the reader.

Effects of this device:

  • Creating an intensifying sense of anxiety and discord
  • Showing that the members of the society think alike and echo one another
  • Showing general principles and specific examples simultaneously
  • Connecting the trivial to the profound

To take this Brave New World lesson to the next level, ask students to compose their own fragmented narration in small groups. The end result takes the form of a collective prose poem.

FRAGMENTED NARRATIVE GROUP ACTIVITY WORKSHEET

Brave New World Discussion Set #1

brave new world discussion questions FEATURED 1

Depending on your approach, the Discussion Questions and Key Excerpts for Analysis may constitute a full lesson following each of the five readings. Check out Brave New World Discussion Questions for a printable PDF.

  1. What is the role of soma in the society? When is it taken and why? Can you make any comparisons to our society?
  2. Why do the people of BNW revere Henry Ford and his Model T?
  3. Make a connection between Bernard’s behavior and real people.  What compels some people to treat cashiers, clerks, employees, and servers so poorly?
  4. How does the government encourage prejudice between the castes? Why does the society desire this segregation?
  5. What happens at Solidarity Service? What is the point of the Solidarity Service? Can you make any connections to real life?
  6. How do Helmholtz Watson and Bernard Marx reach higher senses of individuality than others in the society?
  7. Helmholtz doesn’t know what he seeks. What do you think he needs to be happy?
  8. If you could trade some of your intelligence for happiness, would you do it? Explain your answer.

Brave New World Lesson Plans: Reading 2

Hypnopedia Britannica

Hypnopedia Britannica - Brave New World

HYPNOPEDIA BRITANNICA HANDOUT (PDF)

This lesson explores the pseudoscience of sleep-teaching, which was on-trend in Huxley’s time. The main goal is for students to analyze the hypnopedic slogans of Brave New World and gain insight about the society’s goals and values.  As an added challenge, students must create their own hypnopedic slogans and prescribe an appropriate brainwashing schedule.

To conclude, students reflect on the dangers that a practical methods of hynopedia might present if they were ever employed on a large scale.

Bernard the Misfit (characterization)

“Poor little Bernard,” as Helmholtz calls him, has a bigger problem than fitting in at an event or job. He is a misfit within a society that leaves no room for individuality.  The fact that he longs to epitomize the ideal Alpha+ exacerbates his discontent. Helmholtz and Lenina are strangly drawn to Bernard’s uniqueness, but most people are not.

Huxley dedicates much of the early novel to characterizing Bernard, and it seems that Bernard is the singular protagonist. Have the students review textual evidence to analyze the conflicted and complex Bernard Marx. 

In this Brave New World worksheet students categorize the evidence under three headings:

    • Cowardly or courageous?
    • Good fit or mis-fit?
    • Likeable or despicable?

Closing questions:

  • Is Bernard a misfit by choice? Explain. 
  • Is Bernard the hero? Does it depend on your definition of hero? 
  • Most authors want to create a protagonist (leading character) that you care about. Do you care what happens to Bernard Marx? Explain.

Huxley’s Real World – 1931 (historical context)

Brave New World research worksheet

CONTEXT OF BRAVE NEW WORLD ASSIGNMENT (PDF)

Have students research and present on one element of life in Western society in the 1920s and 1930s in order to contextualize the novel.  The worksheet shown above steers students toward the developments that inspired Huxley’s writing in 1931.

What connections can we find between Brave New World and its historical context? Based on the novel, what were Huxley’s concerns and speculations regarding…

    • Industry and economy
    • Government
    • Drugs and alcohol 
    • Mass media and entertainment 
    • Reproductive science
    • Psychology
    • Social change

Brave New World Discussion Set #2

Check out Brave New World Discussion Questions for a printable PDF.

  1. What is the role of soma in the society? When is it taken and why? Can you make any comparisons to our society?
  2. Why do the people of BNW revere Henry Ford and his Model T?
  3. Make a connection between Bernard’s behavior and real people.  What compels some people to treat cashiers, clerks, employees, and servers so poorly?
  4. How does the government encourage prejudice between the castes? Why does the society desire this segregation?
  5. What happens at Solidarity Service? What is the point of the Solidarity Service? Can you make any connections to real life?
  6. How do Helmholtz Watson and Bernard Marx reach higher senses of individuality than others in the society?
  7. Helmholtz doesn’t know what he seeks. What do you think he needs to be happy?
  8. If you could trade some of your intelligence for happiness, would you do it? Explain your answer.

Brave New World Lesson Plans COVER

Download the complete Brave New World Unit and Teacher Guide


Brave New World Lesson Plans: Reading 3

Classical Conditioning, Lenina, and You

Lenina Crowne is miserable on the reservation due to the society’s conditioning practices. As a baby in the Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, she was abused in association with natural stimuli. She feels discomfort and anxiety in natural surroundings for no logical reason.

To understand her reaction (what psychologists call a conditioned response) students learn about the methods of classical conditioning and the work of Ivan Pavlov.

Classical Conditioning Activity:

1) Read about Pavlov’s dogs on the handout.
2) Practice with the hypothetical examples.
3) Apply this knowledge to Lenina’s conditioned response.
4) Conduct the pulse experiment in partners.
5) Discuss real-life conditioning.

Connected reading: “Classical Conditioning” (12 pages) from OpenText

Writing with Imagery (word choice)

Imagery in Writing - Brave New World

WRITING WITH IMAGERY HANDOUT

Student analyze imagery by focusing on…

  • Key words: Words of special importance in creating the image. Some words connote additional feelings or ideas.
  • Figurative language: The meaning exceeds or deviates from literal explanation—metaphors, similes, personification, idioms, hyperbole, and the rest. 
  • Sensory language: Descriptions that help imaginations see, hear, smell, taste, or touch.

This lesson is receptive and creative.  First, students study the example analyzing the description of the mesa and Malpais. Students then conduct analysis on the description of the laboratory in the Hatchery and Conditioning Centre.  Lastly, students demonstrate their skills in creating imagery with their words.

Symbolism Practice (short story)

Graphic organizer for symbolism

This lesson diverts from the novel in order for students to refresh their skills in recognizing and analyzing literary symbols.  If nothing else, it clues students in to the fact that they should be looking for symbolism in the novel.  The handout above will work with any short story that contains symbolism, but here are some suggestions:

Brave New World Discussion Set #3

In addition to the discussion sets shown previously, each reading has a Key Excerpts for Analysis handout.

From Chapter 8: 

But the young man had evidently not heard the question. “O wonder!” he was saying; and his eyes shone, his face was brightly flushed. “How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is!” The flush suddenly deepened; he was thinking of Lenina, of an angel in bottle-green viscose, lustrous with youth and skin food, plump, benevolently smiling. His voice faltered. “O brave new world,” he began, then suddenly interrupted himself; the blood had left his cheeks; he was as pale as paper.

“O brave new world,” he repeated. “O brave new world that has such people in it. Let’s start at once.”


Brave New World Lesson Plans: Reading 4

What’s Shakespeare Got to Do with It? (allusions)

Huxley bom-bards the reader (Get it?) with allusions to Shakespeare in almost every chapter. Huxley even lifts the novel’s title from The Tempest. What is the purpose behind this overload of allusions?

To better understand the allusions to Shakespeare and determine Huxley’s purpose, students work in groups to present and explain some meaningful allusions.

  1. Select a Shakespearean allusion from Brave New World.
  2. Research the source material and the original context of the quote.
  3. Make connections to the novel.
  4. Share your findings.
  5. Perform a dramatic reading from the assigned play.

By the end of this Brave New World lesson, students should be able to identify Huxley’s reasons for incorporating Shakespeare so extensively.

A Poem for Helmholtz (propaganda poem)

Brave New World fun worksheet - Edited

Huxley imagines a society reliant on propaganda. The people recognize and even celebrate this fact. The term propaganda has lost its negative connotation.

Helmholtz excels in his career at the Bureau of Propaganda until he shares some of his own controversial poetry. He explains, “I wanted to do a bit of propaganda; I was trying to engineer them into feeling as I’d felt when I wrote the rhymes” (Huxley, 180).

Have students analyze Helmholtz’s inappropriate poem. They must then help Helmholtz return to favor by writing an appropriate poem—a poem that the Bureau of Propaganda will appreciate.

Are You Being Controlled?

What are some of the ways that one person can control another? For example, a prisoner’s movement is controlled through walls, bars, and fences. Now imagine that the walls, bars, and fences are in your own mind. Someone else has built them. You may not know that you are being controlled.

This lesson uses a personal survey to explore the influence (often unwelcome) of technology, corporations, governments, and institutions on our minds and decision making.

Additional articles:

Brave New World Discussion Set #4

Check out Brave New World Discussion Questions for a printable PDF.

  1. The teacher at the school shows the Alpha++ students a video of penitent sinners whipping themselves before a representation of Jesus. Why do the students roar with laughter?
  2. The author often wants you to root for the protagonist. Why does Huxley make Bernard so obnoxious and reprehensible during this section of Brave New World?
  3. Why do you think the society conditions the citizens to be accepting and even positive about death?
  4. Analyze the feely attended by Lenina and John. How is the content contrary to the values of the society? How does John misinterpret the characters? (Chapter 11)
  5. Bernard resents Helmholtz for forgiving him and welcoming him back. Does this “victimfriend” relationship make sense to you? (Ch. 12)
  6. The narrator explains, “One of the principal functions of a friend is to suffer (in a milder and symbolic form) the punishments that we should like, but are unable, to in inflict upon our enemies.” What do you think of this idea?
  7. How is John’s use of the quote “Oh brave new world that has such people in it,” different in Chapter 11 as compared to Chapter 8?
  8. Slough is a real suburb of London and the fictional location of the Slough Crematorium. Research the definition of slough to explain Huxley’s hidden message.

Brave New World Lesson Plans: Reading 5

Symbol Hunt

The content of this lesson is essential to the Brave New World unit. Students synthesize their skills and knowledge in analyzing textual evidence, connecting literary elements, and tracing theme development.

Authors often smack you in the face (figuratively) with their symbols. Think about titles like “The Raven,” To Kill a Mockingbird, “Caged Bird,” A Raisin in the Sun, The Grapes of Wrath, The Crucible, Moby Dick, and Wuthering Heights. Huxley is a bit subtler in Brave New World.

Students collaborate in collecting evidence and analyzing their respective symbols. Giving students access to a searchable copy of Brave New World expedites the hunt. Students can enter key words into the Google Chrome “FIND” feature

Brave New World symbolism activity table

(The second column scaffolds the activity by supplying “known associates” for each of the hunted symbols.)

The Two Johns / Biblical Allusions

Why does Linda name her son John? Perhaps, like Helmholtz Watson, he was named after the psychologist John B. Watson. More importantly, John’s name helps Huxley create connections to the Bible.

Huxley makes many religious allusions throughout the novel. Soma is “the libation of the Gods” used in Hindu ceremonies. “Pookong” refers to a Native American god of War. Biblical allusions, however, are central and plentiful.

You need not be a Biblical scholar to figure out what Huxley is doing.  A working understanding of the New Testament, especially when it comes to John the Baptist, illuminates Huxley’s messages.

Shared reading: “Who Was John the Baptist?” (10 pages) by Wayne Jackson

Analyzing Biblical Allusions:

  1. When does Brave New World explicitly reference Jesus and/or the Bible?
  2. When does the society imitate rituals of Christianity?
  3. Compare John the Baptist and John the Savage. Think about behavior, message, purpose, birth, and death.
  4. What is the purpose behind the connecting John the Savage to John the Baptist?
  5. BIBLE SCHOLARS ONLY: What events or description from Brave New World connect the Bible in less obvious ways?

Connections of note:

  • “The President made another sign of the T and sat down. The service had begun.” (84)
  • “What man has joined, nature is powerless to put asunder.” (22)
  • “‘Suffer little children,’ said the Controller.” (57)
  • “‘I drink to the imminence of His Coming!’” said Morgana Rothschild…” (85)
  • “‘I stood against a rock in the middle of the day, in summer, with my arms out, like Jesus on the Cross.’” (150)
  • Jesus and the money changers / John and the soma changers
  • Disciples come to the wilderness (the lighthouse)
  • The denial of Bernard / The Denial of Peter (Chapter 15)
  • Purification rituals
  • Martyrdom
  • John the Apostle, “the disciple whom Jesus loved”
  • Malpais is described as resembling a ship. (Is it an ark of true humanity?)

Huxley’s Themes

Brave New World handout on theme

Now that we are experts on Brave New World, it is time to put Huxley’s themes under the figurative microscope. Huxley essentially questions the meaning of human existence; unsurprisingly, there are many theme subjects to consider.

Brave New World Discussion Set #5

Check out Brave New World Discussion Questions for a printable PDF.

Key Quote for Analysis:

“Do you remember that bit in King Lear?” said the Savage at last. “‘The gods are just and of our pleasant vices make instruments to plague us; the dark and vicious place where thee he got cost him his eyes,’ and Edmund answers–you remember, he’s wounded, he’s dying–’Thou hast spoken right; ’tis true. The wheel has come full circle; I am here.’ What about that now? Doesn’t there seem to be a God managing things, punishing, rewarding?”

“Well, does there?” questioned the Controller in his turn. “You can indulge in any number of pleasant vices with a freemartin and run no risks of having your eyes put out by your son’s mistress. ‘The wheel has come full circle; I am here.’…

John v. Mond Debate

Brave New World Worksheet Debate

The discussion between John and Controller Mond lays bare Huxley’s essential question: What is best for humanity? Both characters are free-thinkers who understand past and present societies, but they arrive at different conclusions. Who is right?

Imagine that John the Savage is alive and that Controller Mond’s experiment has attracted the attention of other World State leaders. Some leaders wonder if John, Helmholtz, and other dissenters are right. The controllers have decided to hold a debate entitled John v. Mond. The future of humanity hangs in the balance.

Foiled Again! (characterization)

Foiled Again Characterization - Brave New World

Start this Brave New World Lesson by asking students to identify famous examples of foil characters.  Then ask students to identify the main character of Brave New World. Does the story center on Bernard or John?

Huxley performs what grandpappy called “the ol’ switcheroo.” He primes the reader to watch Bernard rise as our individualistic hero, but that does not happen. Bernard fails to transcend and John “the savage” takes Bernard’s place as the protagonist. This puts the two characters in stark contrast.

Sorting Character Statements (page 2 of the handout):

  • Each student chooses one of the seven characters to represent.
  • Each student makes a large name tag for their chosen character.
  • The statements are read aloud, and students stand and/or hold up their sign when the statement applies to their character. (A class circle is best so that everyone can see.)
  • Note instances of agreement and disagreement.

Huxley presents a variety of hypothetical individuals and their different reactions to life in the Brave New World. We have a complete outsider, perfect conformists, and insiders who fail to conform in a different ways.  What is Huxley’s purpose in positioning these characters for comparison?


Brave New World Complete Unit COVER

Download the complete Brave New World Unit and Teacher Guide


Brave New World Final Tasks

The complete resource for teaching Brave New World includes 14 culminating task assignments as well as the final exam maker (120 test items in total).

Thanks for checking out Brave New World Unit Plan for High School!

I hope that you have found something in this post that will help you in teaching Brave New World.  For more ideas and resources, check out all of the Brave New World posts from TeachNovels.