Brave New World opens with the Director of the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre giving a group of young students a tour of the facilities. An assembly line creates embryos using the latest advancements in science. The students view the various techniques for producing more babies and watch as the process segregates babies into various castes. After the babies are decanted from their bottles, they are conditioned through Neo-Pavlovian conditioning and hypnopaedia. In Neo-Pavlovian conditioning, babies enter a room filled with books and roses. When the babies approach the books or the roses, alarms and sirens sound, and the babies receive a small electric shock, which frightens them so that when they confront the same items for a second time, they recoil in fear. Hypnopaedia teaches babies and children while they are asleep by playing ethical phrases numerous times so that the phrases will become a subconscious part of each person.
The World Controller of Western Europe, His Fordship Mustapha Mond appears and gives the students a lecture about the way things used to be. Before the Utopian world order was established, he explains that people used to be parents and have children through live birth. This existence led to dirty homes with families where emotions got in the way of happiness and stability. The first world reformers tried to change things, but the old governments ignored them. War finally ensued, culminating in the use of anthrax bombs. After the so-called Nine Years' War, the world suffered through an economic crisis. Exhausted by their disastrous living conditions, people finally allowed the world reformers to seize control. The reformers soon eradicated religion, monogamy, and most other individualistic traits, and they stabilized society with the introduction of the caste system and the use of soma.
Bernard Marx is introduced as a short, dark haired Alpha who is believed to have accidentally received a dose of alcohol as a fetus on the assembly line. His coworkers dislike him and talk about him in derogatory tones. Bernard has a crush on Lenina Crowne, another Alpha, and she informs the reader that he asked her to go with him to the Savage Reservations several weeks earlier. Lenina has been dating Henry Foster for the past several months, but since long-term relationships are discouraged, she agrees to go with Bernard Marx to the Reservations.
Bernard goes to Tomakin, the Director, and gets the Director’s signature to enter the Reservations. The Director tells a story about how he went there twenty-five years earlier with a woman. During a storm, she became lost, and circumstances forced him to leave her there. The Director then realizes he should not have told Bernard this story and defensively begins to yell at him. Bernard leaves unruffled and goes to talk to his good friend Helmholtz Watson about his meeting with the Director.
Helmholtz Watson is an intellectually superior Alpha who has become disillusioned with the society. He is tired of his work, which consists of writing slogans and statements to inspire people. Helmholtz indicates that he is searching for a way of expressing something, but he still does not know what. He pities Bernard because