Hypnopaedia in Brave World: Quotes & Analysis

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  • 0:04 What Is Hypnopaedia?
  • 0:54 How It Works
  • 1:44 Limitations
  • 2:39 Reactions to Hypnopaedia
  • 3:29 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby

Kaitlin has a BA in political science and experience teaching.

In this lesson, we take a look at the use of hypnopaedia in 'Brave New World', seeing how this form of sleep teaching is useful for the conditioning that's required of the people of the World State society.

What Is Hypnopaedia?

Imagine a world where you learned everything you needed to know in your sleep. Pretty cool, right? But what would you learn? This is the premise of hypnopaedia in Brave New World, a 1932 novel about standardized happiness by Aldous Huxley.

In Brave New World, there are no families, religious institutions, or other organizations to teach basic morals. After all, the moral code of the World State is rather at odds with many of these institutions. That begs the question, how do millions of youth learn basic moral behaviors? Moreover, how do they learn to conform to the norms that society expects from them? Luckily for the World State, there's hypnopaedia.

Hypnopaedia is best defined as sleep learning, and plays a significant role in making the society of Brave New World possible.

How It Works

If you've ever heard of someone trying to study or learn through osmosis, by listening to it being repeated over and over again while they sleep, you've got a pretty good idea of how hypnopaedia works.

In Brave New World, hypnopaedia is used to teach lessons of moral consequence while children are sleeping. We learn that there's actually a pretty precise science to this. Specific lines are recited at predetermined intervals at various points of a child's conditioning. One of the primary characters, Bernard, works to implement this conditioning. He often quotes the exact line and number of repetitions when the situation prompts it.

In fact, he has an amount of contempt for the whole process. 'One hundred repetitions three nights a week for four years,' he says. 'Sixty-two thousand four hundred repetitions make one truth. Idiots!'

Limitations

Hypnopaedia isn't perfect. Brave New World alludes to a time when it was used to teach factual information. In the flashback, the boy has been hypnopaedically taught various facts about the Nile River. While he is unable to make active use of that knowledge, he's able to blindly repeat what he was taught. Despite this, he still can't answer basic questions.

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