Just some notes I wrote for my English class
The first character introduced in the novel is the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning (DHC) of Central London (later referred to by his real name -Tomakin). The director is first introduced on pages 19-20, his physical appearance is vividly described as “Tall and rather thin but upright, … He had a long chin and big, rather prominent teeth, just covered, when he was not talking, by his full, floridly curved lips. Old, young? Thirty? Fifty? … It was hard to say.” (Huxley 20). The director’s unknown age is quite significant for him as an introductory character as the reader later finds that the scientists in Brave New World managed to slow down aging, making people young until the day they die. The director introduces a group of students as well as the reader to some of the most important concepts on which the fictional society is built.
Henry Foster is a minor character who is introduced as a technician at the Central London hatchery and Conditioning Centre. He is Described as “a ruddy young man” (Huxley 24)Mr. Foster is an expert on many procedures that take place in the centre and explains some of them to the students (and, once again, to the reader). His only major significance is to introduce the reader to the setting and his short role as one of Lenina’s lovers.
Mustapha Mond is introduced in Chapter 3; he is the Resident Controller for Western Europe, one of the ten controllers in the world. As a controller, Mond receives a great amount of respect from the general public, and is referred to as “His Fordship” (for more information see Setting and Symbolism). At the beginning of the novel Mond acts in a the same manner as all the other conditioned characters – he strongly opposes to the ideas of the old world and concepts such as motherhood, creative literature and culture in the old sense of the word. Later on through the novel Mond shows his true personality and belief system as he boldly states that “I make the laws here, I can also break them.” (Huxley 217). Through his conversation with the savage, Mond agrees with many of John’s views on Shakespeare and other issues. Mond states that he loves poetic literature and science, but cannot let others practice them because they are dangerous concepts that threaten happiness.
Bernard Marx, one of the major characters in the novel, is introduced on the same chapter as Mustapha Mond and is an Alpha-Plus psychologist and specialist in hypnopaedia. Bernard, unlike other conditioned individuals, does not like modern society and the way relationships are supposed to work. Fanny says “They say he doesn’t like Obstacle Golf … And then he spends most of his time alone.” (Huxley 57)These words may not seem like serious accusations but for the society described in the novel all people are supposed to enjoy the same activities - obstacle golf is used here as an example of such an activity – and dislike solitude. That, taken along with his unusual height, makes Bernard an extremely abnormal character and is the reason he is not very popular in society. Bernard’s views include opposition to conditioning and the lack of serious relationships in society.
Lenina Crowne (the name's similarity to Vladimir Lenin is with no doubt intentional) is the major female character in the novel and the only major character who fully agrees with the current system and is correctly conditioned. Lenina is first introduced as a lab worker in the London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. She is described as the ideal character for the society of the novel – perfect in appearance and behaviour. Lenina’s trust in the system can be somewhat explained by fact that she is of the Beta caste (less intelligent than the Alpha). Lenina has romantic relationships with both Bernard and the Savage, and both are similar in several ways: Lenina sees them as the ideal person in her society – brief relationships that are mainly based on sexual relations and meaningless talk while Bernard and the Savage want deeper and longer relationships that have real meaning. Once Bernard and the Savage realize this they seem far less interested in the relationship.
Helmholtz Watson is Bernard’s friend and a lecturer at the College of Emotional Engineering (working primarily on propaganda). Introduced late in the novel, Helmholtz’s character does not really have enough time to fully develop but he has a great impact on the savage. Helmholtz, like many of the other major characters in the novel, has special views on the society he is in and is seen as an abnormal character who is not accepted by society. Helmholtz, when teaching poetry, introduces his own poem about solitude which later gets him deported to an island.
John, later known as ‘the Savage’, is one of the major characters in the novel – quite possibly the main character – and is the one with the biggest problem about society. John is the son of Linda and the Director. This fact by itself makes John unique because besides the savages in the reserve no people are allowed to have children and be parents. Although John is born in a reserve and is a savage, his parents are not. John is first introduced when Bernard and Lenina visit the savage reservation, and is brought back to London with the two. The Savage falls in love with Lenina, but violently rejects her when she expresses her love as he starts seeing her as a symbol of civilization. From the very beginning, John despites civilization but his feelings reach their maximum strength when his mother dies. At that point John runs away and starts a new life by himself in an abandoned lighthouse. This proves impossible as the civilized people spy on him and see him as entertainment. Struggling to find solitude and purity, John hangs himself.
Henry Ford’s ideas and beliefs are what the dystopian society is based on. Ford is the only god that world knows and his name is used in the same way as God. Ford’s crowning as god does not only have a literal meaning but also a symbolic one: Ford symbolizes industrialization and the production line – something that the whole world becomes in the novel.
Besides Ford, Sigmund Freud is also a symbol of the ideals of the Brave New World society but in a more psychological sense. “Our Ford – or Our Freud, as, for some inscrutable reason, he chose to call himself whenever he spoke of psychological matters” (Huxley 52). The people in the novel believe that Ford and Freud are one, Freud being the name Ford uses when he speaks of psychology. It is not fully clear why this happens but it does seem that both Ford and Freud are symbols of two halves of the same thing – a society based on community, mass production and lack of family life. Huxley clearly dislikes the ideas of Ford and Freud and builds a whole society based on them to demonstrate how terrible they truly are when put to practice.
Huxley uses the drug, soma, as a symbol of escapism taken to its extremes – a way of completely removing one’s mind from earth and forgetting all the earthly problems. Soma can also be seen as a symbol of the effects of science on society. Huxley predicts a way, which allows the government to manipulate society using a drug that is wanted by society, eliminating all problems in the world. “All of 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.” (Huxley 66). This indicates that the world sees soma as a substitute to religion and alcohol, meaning that it can be used to achieve much needed spiritual balance as well as escape from this world.
Shakespeare is a clearly visible symbol of old culture (at the time in which the novel takes place), representing all the things that come to mind when thinking of the word including:
Literature and poetry, Religion, Love, Spirituality and the spiritual way of looking at life. Shakespeare in the novel is the opposite of civilization and technology. The Savage is fascinated with Shakespeare, which foreshadows the fact that he respects old culture and all of the things it includes.
The Charing T-Tower, an obvious reference to Ford’s T-model, is a minor symbol of technology and how it controls society. It also relates to the symbol of Ford (see above).
The use of technology to control society, used as a grim warning to modern society as it becomes dependant on technology. “One egg, one embryo, one adult-normality. But a bokanoskified egg will bud, will proliferate, and will divide. From eight to ninety-six buds, and every bud will grow into a perfectly formed embryo …“(Huxley 3-4) This illustrates how the Brave New World society uses biotechnology to control births, eliminating the need for family life. From the very beginning of the novel such facts are presented and alarm the reader even though they seem like salvation for society.
The “Feelies” - the equivalent of television and mass media in general - are a great example of how governments have the power to control the media and control society through it. Other methods of controlling society are soma, conditioning, elimination of dangerous individuals (such as Bernard and Helmholtz who are sent to an island), synthetic music, scent organs (used in a similar way to soma) and anti-riot speeches. The society in the novel also uses technology to keep people young until the day they die, so that they can keep working for their whole lives. “Now – such is progress – the old men work, the old men copulate, the old men have no time, no leisure from pleasure, not a moment to sit down and think …” (Huxley 49)
Solitude and community is another theme in Brave New World. Huxley shows that even though community is a powerful tool, it cannot be used as a government system because of the loss of individualism (a bold statement against communism which is obviously intentional). Huxley promotes ideas of solitude and it is supported by all the major positive characters (Helmholtz, Bernard, the Savage). When Helmholtz tells about his recital of a poem about solitude, and how he is reported to the principal, Bernard explains, “It’s Flatly against all their sleep teaching. Remember, they’ve had at least a quarter of a million warnings against solitude.” (Huxley 182)
The consumer society is a theme that appears frequently in Huxley’s writings, as it does not only apply to the time in which the novel takes place but also to the time in which it was written. Huxley warns the reader that even though the path our world is on will bring it to prosperity, it will not lead it to happiness. “I love new clothes, I love new clothes … Ending is better than mending.” (Huxley 64)These phrases, repeated many times throughout the novel, show how the people have been sleep-taught to love purchasing new items to improve economy. This can be seen as a very serious warning because many people in today’s world have similar views, also given to them by the government but in far more indirect ways.
Huxley frequently uses definitions to quickly introduce the reader to complicated concepts in his fictional world which are not important enough to be introduced through actual plot and through dialogs, but are nevertheless necessary for the reader to visualize Huxley’s world. “Bokanovskification consists of a series of arrests of development. We check the normal growth and paradoxically enough, the egg responds by budding” (Huxley 22). Such definitions are used in two ways: one is to introduce the reader to scientific concepts and the other – possibly far more important – is to add the scientific mood to the plot, using complex and long terms such as “Bokanovskification” to confuse the reader and introduce him to the futuristic world in which the novel takes place.
Symbolism is used frequently throughout the novel, more detail on that can be found in the Symbolism section. “Brave New World” is not only the title of Huxley’s novel but also the term the Savage uses to describe the civilized world he is introduced to. Like many other words that come out of John’s mouth, “Brave New World” is a Shakespearean phrase from The Tempest where Miranda says, "Oh brave new world/That has such people in't" (Act V; lines 182-3). When said by the Savage, this phrase has in it a metaphor, sarcasm and personification. The metaphor is the of the new world being advanced and powerful where everybody is happy and all problems are solved. The personification is of the world as being ‘brave’, a human quality that is assigned to the world to indicate, among other things, how society becomes unified and can be seen as one person. The sarcasm is evident, as the Savage uses the phrase to indicate that the new world is not what he thought it to be.
When the savage sees Lenina on a soma holiday he uses several metaphors to describe her, the most significant one being the extended metaphor of the woman as a bird: “… with the hesitating gesture of the one who reaches forward to stroke a shy and possibly rather dangerous bird … The bird was too dangerous.” (Huxley 149)
At the beginning of the novel, very few conflicts are introduced and those that are – Bernard’s dislike of everything in society (person vs. society) and his dislike of his own physical shape (person vs. self) – are not very significant in contrast to those deep conflicts that are later introduced in relation to the Savage.
The savage is in love with Lenina, and she is in love with him but one’s love for the other is not the same as Lenina only wants the Savage sexually while the Savage wants a deep relationship like the ones he read about in Shakespeare’s plays. “The savage pushed her away with such force that she staggered and fell. ‘Go,’ he shouted, standing over her menacingly, ‘get out of my sight or I’ll kill you.” (Huxley 177). This shows that even though John loves Lenina, he cannot accept her love for him and hates Lenina for her conditioning caused stupidity.
When the Savage talks to Helmholtz, Bernard and finally Mustapha Mond, he finds himself in deep person vs. person conflicts that are caused by the people of the new world not understanding Shakespeare and other elements of old culture. “Why don’t you let them see Othello instead?” ‘I’ve told you; it’s old. Besides, they couldn’t understand it.’ Yes, that was true. He remembered how Helmholtz laughed at Romeo and Juliet.” (Huxley 200)Although Mustapha Mond admits Shakespeare’s genius, he explains that it is not healthy for society to see such plays.
A person vs. society conflict arises as the Savage sees society treat his mother’s death with an inhuman attitude and mock her and his pain. The Savage is astonished by Society’s views on death.
A final person vs. society conflict arises when the Savage is disturbed in his hideout by reporters, cameras, helicopters and spectators who finally make him kill himself.
Setting plays a most important role in Brave New World as the whole purpose of the novel is to show the reader what the world would look like if it stays on the same track of development as well as what it is like now (in an exaggerated way)
The novel takes place in what is our world in the future (632 A.F, or After Ford). This means that the date by our terms should be around 2600. The history of the world is not discussed in detail in the novel but one event is constantly referred to – the Nine Years’ War. After this long war the world was nearly destroyed and people accepted the new government as it solved all of their problems.
The new world is governed by ten all-powerful individuals known as the World Controllers (Mustapha Mond being one of them).
Religion in the new world is prohibited with the exception of the new religion in which the god is Ford.
Instead of the regular family and birth system all people are born in hatcheries where they are grown and conditioned.
People are divided into the caste system, alphabetized by the first letters of the Greek alphabet:
Alphas are the tallest, strongest and most intelligent individuals who work as scientists and other occupations where thinking is necessary. All of the main characters in the novel are Alphas with the exclusion of the Savage and Lenina. The Alpha citizens wear gray colours. Betas have sufficient intelligence to live lives similar to those of the Alphas but their positions require less thinking. The Betas wear mulberry coloured clothes. Gammas can only perform jobs where thinking is not necessary at all but some intelligence is needed to perform their job. The Gamma intelligence level is approximately as much as a very unintelligent individual but is still realistic for a healthy person. They wear green. Deltas are huge twin groups wearing khaki and performing such assembly line jobs. Epsilons wear black and are absolute morons, only capable of pure manual labour. It is surprising that Huxley chose to include these moronic individuals in his industrial setting since in the world he describes machines and not humans would do the manual labour.
Besides the civilized world described in the novel, there are also savage reservations where the old ways are preserved and ancient gods are worshipped. The reservations are fenced from the outside world and do not have any of the advantages and disadvantages of the caste system, hatcheries and conditioning.
Those who do not prove to be capable of living harmlessly in the civilized world are sentenced to be deported to islands in which they are free to live by their ways of solitude and thinking, exploring ancient culture and science without having an effect on the outside world. Bernard and Helmholtz are sent to these islands at the end, but their fate there is not described. It is also said that Mustapha Mond himself was about to be sent to an island.
The Narrator is a third-person omniscient. The thoughts of various characters are shown in detail. The novel is in the past tense.
The protagonists are Bernard, Helmholtz and John.
The antagonist is Mustapha Mond.
The novel is primarily told from the point of view of Bernard Marx or the Savage. Some events are described through Lenina, Helmholtz Watson, and Mustapha Mond.
The tones of the novel are at times Satirical, ironic, and at others serious and grim. The author creates a perfect image of the world through a dark parody of our own world.