The Malthusian Belt in Brave New World

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  • 0:01 Who Was Thomas Malthus?
  • 0:42 Malthusian Theory
  • 1:25 Malthusian Drills
  • 2:03 Social Status
  • 2:29 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

The Malthusian belt is an important accessory worn by women and girls in 'Brave New World' by Aldous Huxley. In this lesson, we will learn more about its significance.

Who Was Thomas Malthus?

Much of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is based on the theories of Thomas Malthus, a British economist and demographer in the late 1700s. In this lesson, we will learn about the Malthusian belt, drills, and the man who inspired them.

In the late 1700s and early 1800s, Thomas Malthus, developed a theory about population growth that created widespread concern. He believed that unless the population growth slowed through abstinence and late marriages, the world would run out of food and everyone would starve. From this perspective, Malthusian theory was born.

Malthusian Theory

While the original Malthusian Theory promoted abstinence and Christian values as a means of birth control, Brave New World expands the theory to a futuristic dystopian society where casual sex is the way of life. And round her waist she wore a silver-mounted green morocco-surrogate cartridge belt, bulging (for Lenina was not a freemartin) with the regulation supply of contraceptives. A freemartin is a person who has been sterilized and is unable to bear children. While the society looks at sex as an entertaining pastime, childbirth is looked at with disgrace and disgust, therefore contraceptives are carried at all times for any female who is not a freemartin.

Malthusian Drills

To avoid the stigma of a pregnancy, the girls are drilled to take contraception so intensely, that even after taking large amounts of drugs, they never forget to be cautious. In spite of that second gramme of soma, Lenina did not forget to take all the contraceptive precautions prescribed by the regulations. Years of intensive hypnopædia and, from twelve to seventeen, Malthusian drill three times a week had made the taking of these precautions almost as automatic and inevitable as blinking. Hypnopaedia is teaching through hypnotic suggestion during sleep.

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