Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is one of those books that has the power to really captivate readers. Even if you don’t like the promiscuity or John’s undoing, you have to admit that there’s something really enthralling about the whole thing.
Unfortunately, being enthralled in a story doesn’t make you prepared to write an essay about it. But that’s what I’m here for: to help with your Brave New World essay.
With my help, you’ll have gotten sucked into an exciting book and will be able to share your thoughts about it in a clear, concise, and interesting way.
First, Here Are a Few Pointers
When you’re writing your Brave New World essay, or any literary essay, it’s important to remember the goal of your writing. You want to analyze, not summarize. This means going beyond stating what happened in the story and explaining its significance.
This also means that you don’t have to focus on the broad view of the story. Rather, you can focus on a character, literary device, theme, or anything else you think is important.
One way to ensure you stick to an analysis instead of a summary is to write a strong thesis statement. While it’s true that the thesis statement tells the reader what your Brave New World essay is about, it also reminds you what your essay is about.
As long as you relate your arguments to a strong thesis statement, you won’t have to worry about straying away from an analysis.
(Don’t worry, I’ll show you some thesis statement examples in the different sections below.)
Go Big Picture: Talk About Themes
One of the biggest themes in Brave New World is the cost of happiness at the expense of truth. The whole society operates on what the reader sees as a very strange—and very wrong—premise because they are covering up truth for the sake of happiness.
Brave New World makes readers question what constitutes happiness, and this might be an interesting angle to explore in your essay.
Here are some questions you can tackle in your Brave New World essay:
- Is happiness the elimination of worries and doubts (even if that’s conditioned and soma-fueled), or is it the exploration and fulfillment of your individual identity?
- Can you truly be happy without free will, or is it an illusion of happiness?
Here’s what a sample thesis statement about the theme of happiness at the expense of truth looks like:
Brave New World focuses on the theme of happiness at the price of truth. This theme is prevalent throughout the novel and presents itself through the widespread use of soma and the exploration of the Savage Reservation.
Here are a few other themes you could discuss:
- Promiscuity in the absence of family or personal attachments
- The limits and risks of total governmental control of the population
- The use of technology as a means of oppression
Essays About Characters
There are so many interesting characters in Brave New World that it might be hard to pick just one.
But if you’re going to concentrate on characters in your Brave New World essay, focusing on one character and his or her development will make for a much clearer essay.
Of course, no character exists in a vacuum. You can mention other characters and how they affected the one you’re writing about, but they shouldn’t be your main focus.
My particular favorite character is Helmholtz. While he didn’t get a starring role, he was critical to the overall story. He felt held back in his caste, unable to realize his full potential because of the culture he was raised in.
However, it’s this culture that prevents him from relating fully to John. Despite their mutual love of all things literary, Helmholtz’s culturally instilled values curb his understanding of love and relationships (the very things many of the stories and poems he enjoys are about).
Writing about a character you connect with, love, or love to hate will make your essay more fun to write and more enthralling for your reader as well.
My Helmholtz-inspired thesis statement would read something like this:
Helmholtz Watson is an important character in Brave New World because he helps other characters realize truths about themselves, lives as a symbol of the limitations a caste system places on people, and represents the clash of ideas between the old world and the new.
What Was Up with William Shakespeare, Anyway?
Speaking of Helmholtz’s love of literature and poetry, there’s an awful lot in Brave New World that has to do with Shakespeare. There’s so much there, in fact, that it’s not difficult to write your entire essay about this motif.
The works of William Shakespeare in Brave New World appeal to two characters: John and Helmholtz.
For John, Shakespeare was one of his main foundations for learning to read and thus an important element in how he interprets language and the world around him. It’s how he expresses himself, especially when experiencing extreme emotions like anger.
For Helmholtz, Shakespeare represents something different: a contrast to the society he resents so much. The plays touch on emotions such as love, jealousy, anger, and elation—extreme emotions that are frowned upon by the people in the World State.
Shakespeare allows Helmholtz to explore these emotions from a distance without risking being ostracized by showing them.
Finally, Shakespeare’s works provide a link between worlds by serving as a common interest for John and Helmholtz. Because of the plays, John has the language and Helmholtz can tap into his emotions—both are needed for effective communication and understanding between two people or two groups of people.
My thesis statement about the Shakespeare motif in Brave New World would look like this:
The works of William Shakespeare in Brave New World play a critical role in the novel, serving as a form of communication, self-understanding, and a connection between the World State and the Savage nation.
Find Ways to Make Your Brave New World Essay Interesting
No matter what you write, you should always keep your reader in mind. This goes for your Brave New World essay too. Most likely, your instructor has many essays on roughly the same topics to read. So make sure yours is memorable—and memorable for the right reasons.
Here are a couple of ways to accomplish this:
- Pick an interesting topic. Choosing a character that’s not John or Bernard can go a long way in making your essay stand out. The same goes for non-typical themes and motifs. The important thing is that you have enough evidence to back up your argument. You don’t want a topic so obscure that there are only a few references in the whole book. So choose something with more substance.
- Write in an unorthodox format. Whether or not you choose an unconventional topic, you can have a lot of fun playing with formatting. Clear this with your instructor first. If it doesn’t have to be in basic essay style, feel free to get creative. Write your essay as a letter from a citizen of the World State. Or you can write an interview transcript between you and one of the characters.
Don’t let the fact that you have to write a Brave New World essay keep you from having fun with it.
Hopefully now you have some different angles from which to look at your essay. This is by no means a complete list, and I encourage you to use this post as a jumping-off point into a topic all your own.
Brave New World is full of information and meaning. The purpose of your essay is to explain part of this meaning to your reader (explaining everything may take a dissertation… or several dissertations).
In the process, you may also be able to clear up your thoughts on the work and understand it better.
Want to see how other students have tackled their Brave New World essays? Check out these great examples:
- Superficial Happiness in a Brave New World, a Novel by Aldous Huxley
- The Warnings of Aldous Huxley in the Book Brave New World
- The Death of Feeling: The Ultimatum of John in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World
If you’re not sure about your approach to your Brave New World essay, send it to one of the Kibin editors for review. They can help you ensure it’s interesting and accurate.