Brave New World is a dystopian science-fiction novel set in a futuristic London society in the year 2540 AD. The book was published in 1931 by Aldous Huxley. A literary classic and foundational work of dystopian literature, it still sparks discussions about technology, politics, and consumer culture almost 100 years after it was published. If you’re looking for the best quotes from Brave New World, this organized list is exactly the right place!
Huxley imagined a world in which technological progress would not lead to mass surveillance, mind control, and oppression, like it does in George Orwell’s 1984. Instead, he painted a future in which “everyone is happy now,” mostly thanks to drugs and frequent, non-committal sex. People are produced in factories, grouped into social classes, and conditioned to love their existence — and spend as much money as they can. At first, everything seems to run smoothly. When Native American John (“the Savage”), who grew up far from the hedonic shackles of civilization, enters the picture, however, the first cracks in this society begin to show…
In this list, we’ve compiled the most popular Brave New World quotes for you, based on the number of votes on Goodreads. We’ve also included Nik’s personal highlights from reading the book cover to cover. Finally, you’ll find some cool, custom-made images, ready for you to share your favorite quotes from the book on social media.
You can easily navigate this list by jumping to any section that interests you using the table of contents below. If you want to share a quote, just highlight it, and sharing options for all major social media platforms will appear. Alternatively, you can also use the premade images we created for you in the last section of this list.
Are you ready to enter our Brave New World? Here we go!
Table of Contents
The 10 Most Popular Quotes From Brave New World
If you’re wondering what the most popular Brave New World quotes are, here are the ten lines from the book with the highest number of votes on Goodreads, ranging from over 5,000 votes for the top quote all the way to around 500 votes for number 10.
Note that some of the top quotes on Goodreads were actually not from the book but from Huxley on other occasions, and some were from Brave New World Revisited, a follow-on retrospective Huxley published 26 years later. I skipped those in favor of only including quotes from the original book. I also took all quote versions from the 2007 Vintage edition for extra consistency.
1. “Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly — they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.”
2. “But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.”
3. “Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn’t nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.”
4. “If one’s different, one’s bound to be lonely.”
5. “I want to know what passion is. I want to feel something strongly.”
6. “One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them.”
7. “I am I, and I wish I wasn’t.”
8. “I’d rather be myself,” he said. “Myself and nasty. Not somebody else, however jolly.”
9. “‘All right then,’ said the Savage defiantly, ‘I’m claiming the right to be unhappy.’ ‘Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right to have syphilis and cancer; the right to have too little to eat; the right to be lousy; the right to live in constant apprehension of what may happen tomorrow; the right to catch typhoid; the right to be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind.’ There was a long silence. ‘I claim them all,’ said the Savage at last.”
10. “No social stability without individual stability.”
My 40 Favorite Brave New World Quotes
When I first read Brave New World in its entirety recently, I made over 70 highlights in the book. I won’t include the ones that are already in the top 10 above, but here are 40 of the lines I found most noteworthy, in order of when they appear in the book:
11. “Books and loud noises, flowers and electric shocks—already in the infant mind these couples were compromisingly linked; and after two hundred repetitions of the same or a similar lesson would be wedded indissolubly. What man has joined, nature is powerless to put asunder.”
12. “Primroses and landscapes, he pointed out, have one grave defect: they are gratuitous. A love of nature keeps no factories busy.”
13. “Impulse arrested spills over, and the flood is feeling, the flood is passion, the flood is even madness: it depends on the force of the current, the height and strength of the barrier. The unchecked stream flows smoothly down its appointed channels into a calm well-being.”
14. “‘Everyone belongs to everyone else, after all.’ One hundred repetitions three nights a week for four years, thought Bernard Marx, who was a specialist on hypnopædia. Sixty-two thousand four hundred repetitions make one truth. Idiots!”
15. “Ending is better than mending.”
16. “You can’t consume much if you sit still and read books.”
17. “‘What you need is a gramme of soma.’ ‘All the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects. Take a holiday from reality whenever you like, and come back without so much as a headache or a mythology.’”
18. “The mockery made him feel an outsider; and feeling an outsider he behaved like one.”
19. “‘Did you ever feel,’ he asked, ‘as though you had something inside you that was only waiting for you to give it a chance to come out? Some sort of extra power that you aren’t using—you know, like all the water that goes down the falls instead of through the turbines?’”
20. “When people are suspicious with you, you start being suspicious with them.”
21. “‘Everybody’s happy now.’ ‘Yes, everybody’s happy now,’ echoed Lenina. They had heard the words repeated a hundred and fifty times every night for twelve years.”
22. “Bernard considered that Electro-magnetic Golf was a waste of time. ‘Then what’s time for?’ asked Lenina in some astonishment.”
23. “‘Talking? But what about?’ Walking and talking—that seemed a very odd way of spending an afternoon.”
24. “‘When the individual feels, the community reels,’ Lenina pronounced. ‘Well, why shouldn’t it reel a bit?’”
25. “Often in the past he had wondered what it would be like to be subjected to some great trial, some pain, some persecution; he had even longed for affliction. […] Now that it looked as though the threats were really to be fulfilled, Bernard was appalled. Of that imagined stoicism, that theoretical courage, not a trace was left.”
26. “‘Rags, rags!’ the boys used to shout at him. ‘But I can read,’ he said to himself, ‘and they can’t. They don’t even know what reading is.’ It was fairly easy, if he thought hard enough about the reading, to pretend that he didn’t mind when they made fun of him.”
27. “A man can smile and smile and be a villain.”
28. “Somehow it was as though he had never really hated Popé before; never really hated him because he had never been able to say how much he hated him. But now he had these words, these words like drums and singing and magic.”
29. “Looking at the two pots, he had to laugh. ‘But the next one will be better,’ he said, and began to moisten another piece of clay. To fashion, to give form, to feel his fingers gaining in skill and power—this gave him an extraordinary pleasure. […] They worked all day, and all day he was filled with an intense, absorbing happiness.”
30. “‘It is finished,’ said old Mitsima in a loud voice. ‘They are married.’ […] It is finished. Old Mitsima’s words repeated themselves in his mind. Finished, finished… In silence and from a long way off, but violently, desperately, hopelessly, he had loved Kiakimé. And now it was finished.”
31. “He held out his right hand in the moonlight. From the cut on his wrist the blood was still oozing. Every few seconds a drop fell, dark, almost colourless in the dead light. Drop, drop, drop. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow… He had discovered Time and Death and God.”
32. “The greater a man’s talents, the greater his power to lead astray.”
33. “Murder kills only the individual—and, after all, what is an individual?”
34. “Unorthodoxy threatens more than the life of a mere individual; it strikes at Society itself.”
35. “Success went fizzily to Bernard’s head, and in the process completely reconciled him to a world which, up till then, he had found very unsatisfactory.”
36. “Once you began admitting explanations in terms of purpose—well, you didn’t know what the result might be. It was the sort of idea that might easily recondition the more unsettled minds among the higher castes—make them lose their faith in happiness as the Sovereign Good and take to believing, instead, that the goal was somewhere beyond, somewhere outside the present human sphere; that the purpose of life was not the maintenance of well-being, but some intensification and refining of consciousness, some enlargement of knowledge. Which was, the Controller reflected, quite possibly true. But not, in the present circumstance, admissible.”
37. “‘What fun it would be,’ he thought, ‘if one didn’t have to think about happiness!’”
38. “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 inflict upon our enemies.”
39. “You’ve got to be hurt and upset; otherwise you can’t think of the really good, penetrating, X-rayish phrases.”
40. “The world’s stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get.”
41. “His conditioning has laid down rails along which he’s got to run.”
42. “Every change is a menace to stability.”
43. “Happiness is a hard master—particularly other people’s happiness. A much harder master, if one isn’t conditioned to accept it unquestioningly, than truth.”
44. “People were ready to have even their appetites controlled then. Anything for a quiet life. We’ve gone on controlling ever since. It hasn’t been very good for truth, of course. But it’s been very good for happiness.”
45. “‘But God doesn’t change.’ ‘Men do, though.’ ‘What difference does that make?’ ‘All the difference in the world.’”
46. “You can’t have a lasting civilization without plenty of pleasant vices.”
47. “Civilization has absolutely no need of nobility or heroism. These things are symptoms of political inefficiency. In a properly organized society like ours, nobody has any opportunities for being noble or heroic.”
48. “You got rid of them. Yes, that’s just like you. Getting rid of everything unpleasant instead of learning to put up with it. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them… But you don’t do either. Neither suffer nor oppose. You just abolish the slings and arrows. It’s too easy.”
49. “‘What you need,’ the Savage went on, ‘is something with tears for a change. Nothing costs enough here.’”
50. “In spite of their sadness—because of it, even; for their sadness was the symptom of their love for one another—the three young men were happy.”
More Brave New World Quotes
Want more fascinating quotes from Brave New World? Well, at this point, the best way for you to find those is most likely to read the book. Here’s a quick overview and link to Amazon (affiliate). You can also ready our summary of the book by clicking the green button.
“Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly—they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.” — Aldous Huxley
The Book in One Sentence
Brave New World* presents a futuristic society engineered perfectly around capitalism and scientific efficiency, in which everyone is happy, conform, and content — but only at first glance.
Why should you read it?
This book explores the negative sides of a seeming utopia. What happens in an ostensibly prosperous world in which everyone appears to be content and satisfied but that, below the surface, has a lot of problems? If that somewhat reminds you of our outwardly shiny world in which everyone seems to be Instagram-happy, read this book.
- If the world were perfect and everything was easy, nothing would have any meaning.
- We hate not fitting in more than anything else, and yet, we’ll never all be the same.
- True happiness and suffering are two sides of the same coin — we can’t have one without the other.
If you want to learn more, you can read our free four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself.
Brave New World Quotes for Sharing on Social Media
If you want to post any of the above quotes to social media, you can do so with our “highlight and share” feature. That said, we also made some custom images for you to easily tap and spread. Some are optimized for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, others follow Instagram’s classic square format or Pinterest’s more vertical layout.
For some of the images, we used images from Unsplash. For others, we created some custom AI art. In any case, we tried to make each quote fit the dystopian vibe of the book. Happy sharing!
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That’s it for our list of the 50 best and most popular quotes from Brave New World. What do you think? Did we nail it? Did we forget an important one? Feel free to share your favorite with us on Twitter!
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Last Updated on February 14, 2023