Socratic Seminar Questions: Brave New World

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Socratic Seminar Questions: Brave New World

This essay will provide a series of Socratic seminar questions designed to provoke deeper understanding and discussion of Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.” It will focus on themes such as control vs. freedom, the use of technology in society, and the nature of happiness. PapersOwl showcases more free essays that are examples of Brave New World.

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Type your answers to the following questions. Be sure to use correctly cited quotes to support your answers. Your document is due to halfway through block period next week. Answers should be several sentences long. Be prepared to share your answers next week.

  • Of all the methods and devices the World State uses to control its citizens, which do you find the most morally objectionable?
  • Or do you?
  • Either way, explain.

I think the control of reproduction is the most morally objectionable because it includes surgically removing women’s ovaries.

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The Bokanovsky Process takes away their rights and freedoms to choose what they want to do with their bodies so that they can control society. A quote of how the Bokanovsky Process is morally wrong is “‘The surrogate goes round slower; therefore passes through the lung at longer intervals; therefore gives the embryo less oxygen. Nothing like oxygen-shortage for keeping an embryo below parr’” (Huxley Chapter 1).

  • Why do the World Controllers include sex at all as a part of daily life?
  • Why not just eliminate everyone’s sex drives altogether?

In the World State, sex is used to distract the citizens so that their feelings and desires don’t get in the way of the consumer society. At the same time, the World Controllers don’t want to eliminate everyone’s sex drives because it allows people to relieve stress and have fun. The society’s government uses sex to release emotions since they’re still people. An example of the government idolizing sex is in a song, “Orgy-porgy, Ford and fun, Kiss the girls and make them One. Boys at one with girls at peace; Orgy-porgy gives release” (Huxley Chapter 5).

  •  Soma is the World State’s most powerful tool to subdue and control its citizens.
  • Do you think the World State (or something like it) could ever exist without soma?
  • Explain.

No, I don’t think the World State could exist without soma because it comforts and diverts the citizens from the truth about the corruption of the State. Soma makes the users become slaves to the rules of society by surrendering their individuality and maintaining the peace. Lenina says, “‘When the individual feels, the community reels’” which shows that their society depends on soma to function (Huxley Chapter 6).

  • Though Huxley’s imagined World State seems less human in the way we are accustomed to living, explain the positive aspects of his society. What aspects would you particularly like and why?

Some positive aspects are that neither diseases, unemployment, nor poverty transpire in the World State. I kind of like the idea of women not having to give birth, but rather have the babies grow in test tubes. However, this perspective deprives people the ability to have a family and the babies are ultimately conditioned to think and behave a certain way. Additionally, I think guilt-free sex is a positive aspect because people should be allowed to live their lives however they want without any judgement or pressure from others and society. In the quote, “‘What with mothers and lovers, what with the prohibitions they were not conditioned to obey, what with the temptations and the lonely remoreses, what with all the diseases and the endless isolating pain, what with the uncertainties and the poverty,’” it clearly states that without soma and conditioning people were unstable and weren’t happy (Huxley Chapter 3).

  •  Everyone makes a big deal out of the fact that soma doesn’t have any nasty after-effects of say, alcohol (hangovers, guilt, shame, pregnancy). If this is true, why do we find its use morally wrong?
  • Actually, do you find it morally wrong?
  • Why or why not?

We find soma’s use is morally wrong because it affects someone’s true state in order for the government to control them. The drug makes people enslaved to and “mindless drones” to the government in order for them to not question the operations of the State. The objective of the State is to take everyone’s right to feel and instead make a superficial world. “By this time the soma had begun to work. Eyes shone, cheeks were flushed, the inner light of universal benevolence broke out every face in happy, friendly smiles. Even Bernard felt himself a little melted” (Huxley Chapter 5). In this quote, Bernard confesses that soma makes him feel melted or happy which shows that the government is persuading the citizens to think everything is awesome.

  •  What is the difference between natural instinct and the ‘instinctual’ feelings that the citizens of the World State have been conditioned to feel?
  • Is there a difference at all?

Everyone in this world doesn’t have natural instinct due to conditioning. The government influences their opinions to make them dispose their own intuition. The novel states, “Everyone works for everyone else. We can’t do without any one,” to show that citizens’ individuality is removed for the greater good of the World State (Huxley Chapter 5). In the real world, people have the right to feel their feelings. In contrast, the society in Brave New World influences the citizens to believe that it is wrong to feel anything but happy.

  •  Could anything like Brave New World really happen?
  • Has it happened in some form that we don’t fully recognize?
  • Explain.

I don’t think our world will become like Brave New World because countries are becoming less consumerist and more concerned with the environment. Also, people will always be individuals by standing up for their freedoms and beliefs. The U.S. government can never remove our right of civil liberties, religious freedoms, and social equalities because that is what our country was built on. If they end up taking our rights away, hopefully I will be long gone or I’ll just move to Canada. Similar to Brave New World, prenatal fetal genotyping is common. The novel states, “And opening an insulated door he showed them racks upon racks of numbered test-tubes. ‘The week’s supply of ova. Kept,’” (Huxley Chapter 1). This shows that something from Brave New World has happened that we didn’t fully recognize.

  •  How does the concept ‘everyone belong to everyone else’ threaten traditional social institutions?
  • Is this value constructive or destructive when building a society?
  • What potential problems can this cause?

This concept threatens traditional social institutions because everyone is focused on themselves. This value is constructive because people are focused on how to improve society as a whole. If the citizens were all the same, there wouldn’t be any potential problems. Lenina says that their society needs everyone so that it can function properly in the quote, “Even Epsilons are useful. We couldn’t do without Epsilon. Everyone works for everyone else. We can’t do without anyone’ (Huxley Chapter 5).

  •  Is sadness a necessary part of the human condition?
  • What happens to a society when negative emotions are eliminated or subverted through the use of drugs like soma? 

Yes, sadness is a necessary part of the human condition because, in order for there to be happiness in someone’s life, there must sadness. It allows people to appreciate all the good in their life. Eliminating sadness will make the citizens feel detached and they won’t be able to comprehend emotions. Emotions are subverted through the use of soma because the citizens only care about feeling “happy” instead of the connections with others around them. In the quote, “Lenina felt entitled, after this day of queerness and horror, to a complete and absolute holiday. As soon as they got back to the rest-house, she swallowed six-gram tablets of soma, lay down on her bed, and within ten minutes has embarked for lunar eternity,” Lenina used soma to calm her down from her problems instead of dealing with them (Huxley Chapter 9).

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Socratic Seminar Questions: Brave New World. (2021, Nov 24). Retrieved from