Between the utopian and the primitive
These sections of chapters bring to the reader a lot of different information. It's when after understanding all of the setting of the novel, where the conflicts and diverging opinions begin to appear. The major conflict seen is between the “civilized” and the “uncivilized”. It is a very interesting moment when Lenina, Linda, John, and Bernard meet. Bernard and Lenina are used to a world where no one gets old and no one has to suffer. Suddenly, when getting to Malpais both of them see and feel fortunate for what they have. But shouldn't their reaction be the opposite?
Think about this, Ford created such society so that everyone would be civilized and would maintain order. But, where is liberty? Can you actually call them humans? Looking at our reality, it’s easy to observe that the moment where humans show most of their human nature is in a bad moment, where we have to suffer and fight for what we believe is correct. It's in these moments that we demonstrate passion, persistence, and resilience.
Bernard and Lenina have everything too easy and too perfect. Their only job is to interact and live life without thinking about it. That's easy, everyone can do that. But is it pleasurable or rewarding? Lenina when seeing Linda, a woman who was “civilized” but had a son, gave birth and grew old was in shock with all of the women around her, “the passage of an old woman with ophthalmia and a disease of the skin distracted her” (Huxley 112). She was scared to think that she could also be like this if it weren't for all of the new technology. Instead of trying to understand these new habits and culture, she rejects everything and takes more soma.
Bernard, when not under the effects of soma, seems to have very deep thoughts; when in a date with Lenina, for example, he insinuates that he wants something more romantic when saying “I thought we'd be more... more together here – with nothing but the sea and moon. Don't you understand that?” (Huxley 91), and during the trip, when the effects of soma had worn off, he would wonder about having a family, “I often think one may have missed something in not having had a mother. And perhaps you've missed something in not being a mother, Lenina. Imagine yourself sitting there with a little baby of your own...” (Huxley 112). It is funny to observe that even though Bernard is close to understanding the problems of his society, he completely ignores his capability of thinking outside the box, due to social rejection, and takes soma which drives him apart from all of these ideas.
Then we have John, who has grown up almost as a “savage”, but is very curious to see this world his mother always talks about. Curiously, John doesn’t seem to fit in any place. At the “pueblo”, for example, when he was sixteen they didn’t let him participate of the dream ritual and at this “new world” he is seen as a complete stranger and primitive. Such situation connects him with Bernard, due to the fact that both of them feel lonely, as John said, “If one´s different, one´s bound to be lonely.” (Huxley 137). I wonder what will his reaction be, and how will the others see him, given that John is used to having a family, to follow a religion, and most important, to read books such as Shakespeare. Will he be the only one to find all of the problems behind this camouflaged happiness? How will he react to the fact that sex is merely recreational? That they don´t know what love is? That no one knows who Shakespeare is?
I might have realized a little plan the world government has crafted in order to keep people under their control and avoid people of questioning their way of life. Through out these chapters I noticed several changes of scenario. The reader finds Bernard in his workplace then Bernard goes to Helmholtz`s appartement, then in capter 5 he goes to an obstacle golf , right after that Westminister Abbey Cabaret, and in the end of the chapter Bernard ends up in an orgy. In between all of those activities the characters take soma that makes the characters more distracted. I imagine this soma may create a similar fog to Chief Bromden`s from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo`s Nest”, because this soma stops the people from seeing the reality of things. This combination of always doing something and taking this soma, leaves them with no time to reflect upon the world. Then I thought Is it possible that Alphas are secretly brainwashed? There are evidences for me to believe so, like , when Lenina and Bernard are reflecting upon the caste system and how it is not perfect, but this reflection ended up being blocked by a repetion of sentences, “Lenina remembered her first shock of fear and surprise; her speculations through half a wakeful hour; and then, under the influence of those endless repetitions, the gradual soothing, the smothing , the stealthy creeping of sleep....” (Huxley 74). Her subconscious activated a defense mechanism that stopped her from resenting her class and made her happy again. After that incident I couldn`t but wonder if maybe Bernard was right about being watched, or was he just being paranoid?
"Safe as helicopters" (Huxley 141)
I have never understood how helicopters could be considered safe. Not that flying was an issue, I have never had a problem with airplanes, on the contrary, I have always enjoyed the idea. However putting myself inside a helicopter would fill me with fear. You are up in air, flying, being held by a weird propeller over your head, squeezed; and if you feel uncomfortable with that situation, try to look through those – huge – windows: that’s when you realize you are some kilometers apart from firm ground and there’s not much you can do if that scary control panel malfunctions.
No, Mr. Huxley, it’s not safe! But I think I understood the riddle behind this metaphor. These chapters were all about discoveries, and “unveiling the truths behind other dimensions”. In this case, getting down from the high-heels of the Community and figuring out what’s going on with the savages. When Bernard told the octoroon that Lenina was “safe as helicopters”, he might’ve intended to say that the fact that she was high on soma made her safe, just like when helicopters are high in the sky. And well, it’s comprehensible that helicopters are not at all SAFE when high. In other words, this bizarre soma-safety that the androids from the Community feel is dangerous, mischievous and false.
Aristotle would suggest that “happiness depends on ourselves” and that it would only be possible if one has complete consciousness of his attitudes, could discern from his morality. He would even go further and say that it isn’t momentaneous, it can’t be triggered by an sensation only. It is a constantly built virtue. The logic behind it is that one would only be satisfying their senses and that that had no concrete emotional backing: when the effect or the moment goes away, this “happiness” also goes, thus, it’s fake.
But the central idea of these chapters is not happiness per se. It is the unveiling of misconceptions. Going to Malpais made Bernard and Lenina understand that everything that they understood of the world was not that “stable” for everyone and getting to meet John and Linda made them comprehend a reality beyond what they could imagine (if they could). Even for John it all resumes to unveiling misconceptions because now he has more living (if we can say that) proof of the world his mother comes from. For Linda, being whipped by the women from the pueblo because she slept with every man was also a discovery: she felt on her skin the convention of that people and learned her lesson just like the other characters.
It’s interesting the way Huxley manages to show this “transformation”. When Bernard and Lenina are crossing the border, symbolizing the moment of passage from “superiority to savagery”, the pilot mentions that the electrocuted animals will never learn “’and they never will learn,’ […] as though he had somehow scored a personal triumph over the electrocuted animals” (Huxley 105), showing how this transformation and shock with reality actually needs some sort of feigned ignorance, some kind of humble look to reality, comprehending that living is not mastering nature, but knowing to respect its flaws consciously. The animals electrocuted symbolizing the true nature of life – savage, wild – and their electrocution the penalization for being so against the technological conditioning from the “Brave World” and even so, not “learning” about the consequence of messing with it.
Another interesting point about these chapters is their blind devotion to Ford and the Solidarity Service contrasting with the tribal ritual of the “savages”. It is funny to see that even in a world with no “feelings” and sterilized from all the humane bonds (like religion, for example), they are still involuntarily (since, based on what they praise as “superior”, devoting to a God is to be considered naïve and silly) doing the exact same thing. Take the Solidarity Service scene, where Bernard doesn’t hear Ford yet he lies about it just to “be part of it”. Similarly to John that wanted to be bit by the snakes in the ritual instead of the other Indian: both feel the necessity of creating a feeling about something they do not necessarily understand or agree upon. Not to mention their constant referral to Ford as a god: “Ford knows (Huxley 97), “thank Ford” (Huxley 103), “Ford, no!” (Huxley 139). Pretty savage for so civilized people.
Something that also called my attention was Bernard’s Eau de Cologne quickly losing its perfume, as if “an insect, nibbling through time, eating into his money (Huxley 102). What seemed to be a random thought from Bernard, actually perfectly draws the situation they are now int
Guess I've exceeded the limit...
What seemed to be a random thought from Bernard, actually perfectly draws the situation they are now into and explains the significance of the work as a whole. Note that the perfume, in Bernard’s mind, is being eaten by an insect. The connotation bends negatively to a plague, a dirty little maggot. It is also important to realize that Huxley makes usage of the term “nibbling through time”, suggesting that the more time passes, the more perfume is lost. And it’s a perfume – everything that comes to mind when one thinks about perfume is something good: beautiful, aromatic, sweet, fun, glamorous and synthetically perfect. Combine all these ideas and we can see that Huxley intends to say that even as confident, as glamorous, aromatic and synthetically perfect life can be, time will always consume us as a bloodthirsty pest. Like Hamlet would reflect upon us: we are “The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals! And yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust?” (Shakespeare Act II, Scene ii, 285-300). Get this true nature of being nothing but “dust in the wind” and embroider it with the arrogance of acting like gods modifying lives, faking happiness all the time, devoting blindly to inhumane habits and we are going to have the false perfection, a façade neatness. That’s not safe at all.
PERFECTION IS NOT HUMAN
Chapter 5 by itself, has not been THAT significant or huge to me, however, it’s a possible spin on the way that I’m interpreting the book and the events that I expect to happen. Here in this chapter, the drinking, working, sex and orgy are so natural elements, elements that are on in your “failed socieity” in comparison to this “perfect” world proposed by Aldous Huxley. “Again, again – and it was not the ear that heard the pulsing rhythm, it was the midriff; the wail and the clang of those recurring harmonies haunted, not the mind, but the yearning bowels of compassion” (Huxley, 80). In this quote of chapter 5, it is possible to see the mixture of perfection and imperfection, it shows to me that humans are humans, no matter what or where we are, but things, setting, mood or even the people around can make a change, can transform what humans extern to others. Now, I’m starting to think that the book is more about what we want to show to people, the fact that we always look to show perfection and greatness and so many other values, but at the end, you, me and the rest of the people know that none of us are perfects and we will never be, at least not as long as we are human, because or nature is not to be perfect, but to be erroneous and thirsty for better achievements that will always improve on the human condition
Victor brings an interesting point over here: perfection versus humanity. I believe, and am not sure if Victor would agree, that men are endowed with plenty capabilities of always progressing – being it socially, technologically, instinctively, etc. However, and that's what I find curious about Huxley's “perfect” society, the Community has no errors to overcome. He simply created this place where absolutely nothing is out of order, there are no flaws within itself, it is simple, compact, perfect and for being so, IT IS DEAD.
It is dead because, as these chapters show, life is imperfect. And when “perfection” is established, it takes the life out from our bodies. The scene where the pilot points out that the animals “never will learn” (Huxley 105) and will always be electrocuted by the fence in the border from “savagery” to “civilization” shows to me that dying for the naiveness of NOT being perfect is even more ALIVE than not dying at all.
I believe nature is progressive. It is always self-sufficient (in the sense that everything that's alive finds from life itself their own nourishment), it is always looking forward to improvements (natural selection theory, as an example), it is vast, rich and diverse. However it is never perfect: it is finite, it is dangerous, it is mysterious, it is complex, thus beautiful. When you remove all this thrill, this emotion (being it negative or positive), it loses the fun, it loses the purpose of being fantastically creepy, idiotically humorous, and awkwardly dumb. It loses the fun, the magic!!!
This Brave New World, I believe, has no intentions to be an evil opponent of life itself, on the contrary, it is a way of being progressive as well (look the reasons by which they have all the policies and android-like type of life) but through the process towards this “progress”, men left (or are leaving) behind these essential principles of life and became (or are becoming) serfs to their own inventions, conditionally imprisoned to their own living freedom.
An Interesting Contradiction
"'All men are physico-chemically equal,' said Henry sententiously. 'Besides, even Epsilons perform indispensable services.' 'Even an Epsilon...'" (Huxley 63)
Henry provides a very interesting comment that can be related to several eras of society. The Epsilons are comparable to what were peasants, industrial workers, maybe even slaves at an older time, but one thing is right: they are the lower caste in the World State society. Sometimes the large difference between the castes is an alcohol injection. As Henry points out, socially, there is large differences, as Alphas have more access to the wonders of society in comparison to other kinds of people. Still, an Alpha and an Epsilon have the same body. The discrepancy between castes demonstrates the World State's rather authoritarian way of control. People are created to reduce the possibility of any doubt of the system, their roles in society, predetermined by the World State, but still they are equal, in physical fashion.
What is the World State's purpose to hold society itself on such a tight leash?
In a society where a simple pill called “Soma” can simply “free” a person from any unpleasant emotions and uncomfortable thoughts, the World State sure has a lot to hide. This is a controlling power that promoted and created enormous changes to society, but at the same time it does not wish to innovate or change itself, on can only wonder when is it that that will happen.
Different is Bad
Dictionary.com defines prejudice as a “an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason”. Brave New World is an example of when difference can result on drastic consequences. Our protagonist, Bernard Marx is discriminated as soon as people meet him. His body does not meet the standards of his cast. So far in the novel, just like the rumors that went around in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, all characters judge Bernard’s peculiar characteristics. Some say they might have added a little bit of alcohol in his blood sugorgate.
Not only physically, but Bernard is also judged by his mental capacity. Not because he is mentally limited, but because he thinks differently. He seems always to be seeking something else in life, a reason or an answer for all of what he sees in front of him. When he takes Lenina to appreciate the beach for example, she becomes annoyed and inpatient. She does not understand why he thinks all of that is beautiful, and that is because it was not common, or because humans were not conditioned to appreciate that kind of environment. Bernard also questions things like having sex on the first date and talks about viviparous reproduction openly. All of that makes other people think he is mentally limited (not crazy, because of course, the Hatchery is perfect, and that would be only a manufacturing defect).
But prejudice is not only in the Brave New World. In fact, at the “pueblo” Linda suffered a lot for being different. Because she was used to having multiple partners, the natives would see her as a promiscuous women, and loose all the respect for her. The worst thing though, is that she had a child, and that would be unacceptable in the Brave New World, which made her be forever trapped in that place. She lost hope in life, and she threw her anger at her son: “‘Turned into a savage,’ she shouted. ‘Having young ones like an animal . . . If it hadn’t been for you, I might have gone to the Inspector, I might have got away. But not with a baby. That would have been too shameful.’” (Huxley, Aldous, loc 2193). It is interesting thought when she comes to realize that he was too young to understand all of that, and kisses him... That, would certainly be inconceivable back where she came from.
The fact is, prejudice is everywhere, but why? For me, this is part of human nature. Prejudice will always exist, and sometimes it is not necessarily bad. When Micheline Bernardini first wore bikinis in 1946, it was a shock, just as running naked at the beach. Today, our mothers use it. A homosexual couple may call attention of some people in the street. That is because it is still gradually becoming more common. Well, humans pre-judge. However, Brave New World might have gone too far...
Alone In a Crowd
How exactly can one feel lonely when a crowd surrounds them? The answer to such question became clearer in chapters 4-9. As John and Bernard met, the parallelism between them became apparent. When John told Bernard he felt alone amongst the other Indians, Bernard replied, “so am I, terribly alone” (Huxley 137). This loneliness that most characters feel is mainly because they are different from what their society considers acceptable. As John later concluded, “if one’s different, one’s bound to be lonely. They’re beastly to one” (Huxley 137). Loneliness is a theme in the novel. In the “new world” no one is ever allowed to feel lonely, or else they might actually have time to think! The citizens are always busy with their jobs, Community Sings, Solidarity Service Days or Obstacle Golf. Nonetheless, when they do have some time for themselves, they go on their soma holidays. However, Bernard does not feel as a part of his community and he does feel lonely from time to time. Those who are regarded as different, like Linda, John, Bernard, or even Helmholtz, are ostracized by the society. Linda is shunned be the other women in the Savage Reservation because of her “civilized” manners, Bernard has a terrible reputation and there are even rumors that alcohol was put into his blood-surrogate. Helmholtz is considered to good and too intelligent even for an Alpha Plus and the other Indians exclude John because he has a mother and father from outside. They all consider themselves misfits in their societies and I believe this is what will trigger them to act.
There is a saying in Portuguese that says that those who are bothered should move (os incomodados que se mudem) and I believe that in the next chapters, when all of these misfits are joined in one world, we will start to see some more action in the novel. Just like in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, McMurphy had to rebel against the system as he showed the other patients, who had chosen to conform, how they could live differently. Whereas in Kesey’s novel, fear maintained the power and order, in Brave New World, technology maintains the much-praised stability. Similarly, McMurphy, John and Bernard are all misfits and they are ready to show the importance of one’s individuality. Will John and Bernard be successful in changing the ways of the new world? How does being a misfit allow them to rebel?
Huxley has a fascination for Shakespeare. It's as clear as water spilled over a glass table. The title is a quote from Miranda in “The Tempest” and John is inspired by Shakespeare's words and linguistics in ways that end up provoking a philosophical debate with Mustapha Mond over the current state of humanity. He gets his own framework of emotions, expectations and perception through Shakespeare's plays and the characters within them.
It was clear that there was more Shakespeare within this novel than so explicitly shown. In chapter 3 Mustapha is quoted as saying "Stability. No civilization without social stability. No social stability without individual stability" (Huxley 16%), which is quite a similar scenario and belief which Hamlet encounters, with interior deterioration and its reflection throughout a kingdom. Hamlet is living proof that interior deterioration or state of rebellion does indeed affect the world around him, even if it is all but a personal issues.
Mustapha Mond does mention that Shakespeare, along with other pieces of literature, is prohibited because it would distract people from their work. This isn’t necessarily true; in fact it isn’t true at all. Studies have shown that active reading, regardless as to what genre, does improve your neural pathways, reduces stress and allows a certain “conditioning” to focus and concentrate, all good qualities in applied workers. In such a “scientific” society they should know this in good faith. In fact, Mustapha Mond isn’t worried about the work at all, he and other controllers are worried about how Shakespeare’s tales will affect the population, their emotions and if it might even provoke a challenge to the status quo, something unimaginable before Shakespeare.
In chapter 6 part 1, as Bernard is talking to Lenina about his deepest feelings he reveals that “It [the sea] makes me feel as though I were more me, if you see what I mean, More on my own, not so completely a part of something else. Not just a cell in a social body.” (Huxley 34%) This is the kind of thinking which is threatening towards “social stability” because Bernard’s own individual stability is in fact unstable. Of course this could be due to the fact that he had an excessive amount of alcohol in his blood system during bottling or it could be a mere speck of critical thinking in a brave new world which discourages thinking at all.
So ultimately why is it that Mustapha Mond is so afraid of exposing Shakespeare to the population? How is it that literary works influence uprisings or provoke challenges to the status quo? Will Bernard ever come in contact with Shakespeare to understand his isolated feelings? How does Shakespeares works influence this novel as a whole?
Bernard is the example of a true human in the novel, one that suffers with lovesickness, lets himself feel, is different and insecure but at the same time praises individuality. Unlike any of the characters yet introduced Bernard feels alienated and trapped in the status quo of his society. The character not only feels different but also looks and acts different, he is bigger than the others and some speculate the addition of alcohol to his system. In his first date with Lenina he didn't really want to have sex with her or take the soma and when he asks the helicopter to fly over the Channel, which he says brings to him a sense of individuality but makes Lenina impatient. Together with his friend Watson, Bernard despises the system and feels manipulated and trapped by it. Another outsider that is introduced in these chapters was John. He lived in the reservation for his entire life, but was unable to participate in the Indian traditions because of his mother Linda, which following her conditioning from the Other World slept around with any men of the tribe she desired upsetting some of the other women there. Linda never left the reservation because she was embarrassed of being seen baring a child. John's father was Thomas, the director of the "Other World". John didn't belong neither in the reservation nor the Other world, he was a true outsider.
The first Hope
Everything started with an alcohol injection in Bernard Marx when he was still a fetus. From there on he was being watched by the director, for being a genius, and for having some actual human features. Bernard doesn’t understand how women could engage with many men and not only with one. He has different ideas from the other Alphas and wants to understand it better for the fact that he feels like an outsider or that he doesn’t fit in this “perfect society”. By analyzing some of the features of that society, we can see that most of the society is completely the opposite of the society we live in today, for instance, not reproducing but creating humans, or not loving but engaging with many. Aldous simply got our society and exaggerated on most of the aspects that makes us humans. The feeling of love, hate, fear, and anger are all the features that make us humans, and as we see Bernard is the hope of humanity in this society, he is the exception. “His heart beat wildly; for a moment he was almost faint.” (Huxley, 142) this quote shows what is a true human, this simple description of the heart beating shows the life of a true human, not a manipulated machine. Seeing the route of the story, wouldn’t you guys agree that Bernard would change this “perfect society” into a society where hope and humanity exists? Wouldn’t you guys agree that bringing the “savage” to this society will change the manipulated brains of the people?
Savagery vs. Progress
As Bernard met with John and Linda, I was surprised that the Director's story would continue to be part of the plot. Linda's story for me represents the clash between what they believe is progress and savagery. To see her interaction with the people from the reserve made me realize that to them she is the savage. John’s rejection is similar to Bernard's, since both of them don't seem to fit really anywhere and as John points out, “If one’s different, one’s bound to be lonely”(Huxley 137). John’s split feelings between both worlds is shown when "Lying in bed, he would think of Heaven and London and Our Lady of Acoma and the rows and rows of babies in clean bottles and Jesus flying up and Linda flying up and the great Director of World Hatcheries and Awonawilona"(Huxley 128). This lack of belonging felt by John is relatable to Bernard who also has a "sense of being alien and alone"(Huxley 65) due to his physical and intellectual difference to others, which is also experienced by John when he is not allowed to be the sacrifice in the reserve's ceremony and when he is rejected by the other boys. As I read, I also realized that despite claiming to be superior to the savages the questions posed by John to his mother, such as “But how do you make chemicals, Linda?”(Huxley 130) demonstrates how the “progress” they argue to have made has only kept them alienated and manipulated, which means truthfully they live in ignorance. I also found it funny when the Director seriously asked Bernard not to diverge from a proper infantile behavior and deep inside I was hoping Lenina would change like the Sweetheart of the Song Tra bong, Mary Anne, in the “Things They Carried”, by the reserve. I still hope that she will come out of her manipulated self by learning from John. I also continue to believe what I foreshadowed in my first post, that Bernard will rebel, though now I think he will do that together with John.
How Can I Fit In?
It was clear from the beginning that the World State would be questioned since all of us, readers burst with our own questions about this system. Bernard, the character we can most identify and sympathize with is the misfit of this ultra controlled and ordered civilization. It seems like he has not adapted to the World State, for his ideas are much more related to the Ford epoch.
During this section of the book we are presented to new characters who, together with Bernard, are misfits of their own society. Be it the World State or the Reservation, Bernard, Helmholtz, Linda and John all feel isolated and are not part of their community as they should be. This section seems to introduce the dilemmas of the novel and is the background for action they may take in order to change or even to fit in.
One specific character that I related to was Helmholtz. His love and talent for writing can't be explored because of the World State. He says: "Words can be like X-rays, if you use them properly – they'll go through anything. You read and you're pierced. That's one of the things I try to teach my students – how to write piercingly. But what on earth's the good of being pierced by an article about a Community Sing, or the latest improvement in scent organs? Besides, can you make words really piercing – you know, like the very hardest X-rays – when you're writing about that sort of thing? Can you say something about nothing? That's what it finally boils down to" (Huxley 70). This is his individuality, his passion, his escape, however he can't and does't know how to use his talent and feel good about it, by writing about what HE really wants.
Unus Pro Omnibus, Omnes Pro Uno - Misfits Unite!
If there is nothing wrong to change why change it? As Lenina said: “Everybody’s happy nowadays”(Huxley 91), but is it true? Perhaps most people are happy for they conform and think nothing of it, their lives are constantly moving and soma distracts them from any negative thoughts they might encounter. They live their lives blithe, for they do not take time to analyze their situation or do they understand and acknowledge there is something missing. Already the misfits find themselves in this society that does not fully accept them, they have a motive that compels them to seek change.
We have Helmholtz who has ”mental excess” which basically means he is smarter than most people. He feels that there is something missing but can’t quite grasp it: “Did you ever feel 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 water that goes down the falls instead of through the turbines?”(Huxley 69). Here Helmholtz brings up the theme of nature versus technology, he has only felt and acknowledged what he has been allowed and programmed to know, he hasn’t been able to come in contact with his instincts and nature hence this emptiness he feels. Helmholtz also brings up his incapability to communicate these feelings: “I’m thinking of a queer feeling I sometimes get, a feeling that I’ve got something important to say and the power to say it- only I don’t know what it is, and I can’t make any use of the power. If there was some different way of writing…or else something else to write about…”(Huxley 69). Once more he is struck with this feeling of unknowingness that blocks him from truly grasping what is missing and prevents him from finding a platform on which he can sell the idea of change, and rebel.
Bernard is another misfit, he does not physically look like his cast does, and people treat him differently due to such. He is also very introspective which causes him to question many of their society’s values. Such questioning is emphasized when he visits the Reservation with Lenina and learns that there is more to life than present at the World State. He learns that Linda has given birth to John and questions the nature of a mother son relationship: “I often think one may have missed something in not having had a mother. And perhaps you’ve missed something in not being a mother, Lenina. Imagine yourself sitting there with a little baby of your own…”(Huxley 112). By questioning birth Bernard questions his society’s entire existence for they have not been born from the natural human way, but from Bokanovsky’s Process. Although Bernard longs for change he is incapable of rebelling for he is trapped by his conditioning: “No, the real problem is: How is it that I can’t, or rather-because, after all, I know quite well why I can’t- what would it be like if I could, if I were free- not enslaved by my conditioning […] But wouldn’t you like to be free to be happy in some other way, Lenina? In your own way, for example; not in everybody else’s way.”(Huxley 91).
Obviously now the idea of change, the need for it, and how fulfilling it would be to become complete by experiencing this other way of living, the natural way that is. All these questions have been risen, but due to the control the Directors have with the conditioning imposed in the population it is quite hard to impose change. With the appearance of John though the scenario has changed for he is a true natural human, not oppressed by anything and a misfit himself seeking change. Not only that but he also contains the power of education, he can read and has been exposed to Shakespeare and critical thinking which makes him capable of expressing his feeling and ideas of change in order to truly rebel. Also if we look back the act of reading, collecting knowledge, was something the Directors feared if in the hands of people: “He could see quite well why you couldn’t have lower-caste people wasting the Community’s time over books, and that there was always the risk of their reading something which might undesirably decondition one of their reflexes”(Huxley 22). Combining all of this I believe the misfits have the motives and power to rebel against the conformist society. Will they be capable of making a change or will they just continue on living their empty misfit lives?
Humans and the dynamic of the society are introduced to the audience. Some of the regular issues that a human being face, such as insecurity and not filling in a specific group or society as a whole, are faced by Watson and Bernard. Another issue that is often seen in totalitarian states the lack of power of expression. Helmholtz believes that there is something to be shared with society but he is not yet capable of verbalizing it and cant make use of his power to do so yet. This reminds me of the rise of revolutions, since the character after is scared if someone is listening or spying on them. One character foil each other: Bernard vs. Helmholtz. What is more important and determinant in this society: emotions or intelligence?
Lenina’s dialogue and interaction with Foster also present to the audience more regarding how the society works. Their discussion regarding the physic-chemical equality among the members of society and Lenina’s affirmation that all members of that society were happy made me connect with us, Brazilians. Often we are seen as happy, joyful and polite, which is a superficial stereotype that when you are not exactly incerted to the society you have. A interesting remark that Foster made is how everyone’s work in the society is indispensable. What would happen if a class spot doing their work? What if the Epsilon started to understand and disagree with the system? Would it cause a revolution in this society that seemed perfect? The use of soma also made me thing, how would this society be without the soma? What they feel when using the soma is the true happiness or are they in search of the true happiness constantly? The circular table in which the praise Ford is a concrete resembles of Christianity, which at first questions the impact of religion in this society. The usage of soma and the woman that is not able to obtain the result of this meeting in the same intensity in my opinion reflects in what Lenina said about everyone being happy in that society. Bernard refusing to use soma when he is with Lenina and not being able to stay the night connects the happiness with sexual relationships. Conformity causes happiness.
Bernard is indeed seen as odd by Lenina because he is moved by emotions, different from the other ones that inhabit that place. The Director showing emotions when he is talking about the incident shows the importance of emotions and how they are flourishing in the plot, even though they are forbidden to do so.
“O brave new world” (Huxley 139)
Huxley alludes to Shakespeare many times in chapters 8-9 while introducing John to the reader. As I read the passage in which John makes reference to Shakespeare, I felt as if he lived a mixture of Hamlet and Romeo. In the scene where the omnipresent narrator describes John's mixed feelings toward Popé, John is restrained from killing Popé due to his inner conflict of alienation from the society in which he lives. John even quotes Shakespeare, “A man can smile and smile and be a villain” (Huxley 132) before deciding how to deal with the villain. Both Hamlet and John are alienated from their community due to dissimilar causes, and both men have the urge to kill a “remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain” (Huxley 133).
John's “love at first sight” for Lenina recalls Romeo's indefatigable love for Juliet. Like in the previous example, John quotes Shakespeare describing Lenina the same way Romeo portrays Juliet: “Her eyes, her hair, her cheek, her gait, her voice...” (Huxley 144). The conclusion that may be drawn from such connection to history is that Huxley intends to prove that in the near future, the effort of great men will be forgotten and utterly discarded in order to maintain the iconoclastic “social stability”. However, it seems as if Bernard is bringing a new perspective to the innocence of the fabricated humans. Is it possible for a civilized human to be deconditioned? What would the D.H.C and Mustapha Mond do if such incident were to happen?
I sense that Bernard Marx will reach his bouleversement quite soon in the following chapters. His encounter with John and their dissimilar resemblance pulls together ideas that in the setting of the World State painted by the D.H.C would be considered “very queer” (Huxley 107) as Lenina puts it. Bernard reminds me of Holden Caulfield from the novel A Catcher in the Rye. Both characters feel alienated by society, however no one has excluded them from it. Holden is timid, and does not wish to grow up, therefore disregards any attempts of growing up and belonging to society. He regards himself as the only sane one within the teenage and adult population. Similarly, Bernard feels as if he doesn't belong to the Alpha caste due to his ability to “think outside the tablets of soma”. When times get unbearable, Holden drinks and sees the world through foggy eyes and Bernard takes soma to forget his distress.
These chapters reveal the visit to the savage reservation and introduce John the Savage. It shows a great deal of the pre-conditioned thoughts of the population in regards to their own society as well as to previous times. It sets up the conflict between John and his orthodox, Shakespearian thinking and the repetitive, pre-molded way that society members are taught to behave.
As Lenina says, she has been raised to believe that “Every one works for every one else. We can’t do without any one. Even Epsilons are useful. We couldn’t do without Epsilons” (Huxley 64). Other than that, “a gramme is always better than a damn, everybody’s happy nowadays, never put off till to-morrow the fun you can have to-day” (Huxley 47) are also so prevalent in society that no one even stops to think about their validity. They are simply there, plain and true.
In contrast, John also presents messages, but they are from a classical nature and represent complete ideological opposites to Lenina’s. He believes in passion, housekeeping, fixing; she cares for hedonistic pleasure, throwing away and going with the flow of society.
John recites Shakespeare upon meeting Lenina. He tells of her, “On the white wonder of dear Juliet’s hand, may seize/ And steal immortal blessing from her lips, Who, even in pure and vestal modesty,/ Still blush, as thinking their own kisses sin.”
Huxley (125). However, their story is more like Back to the Future than Romeo and Juliet. Their ideological differences are insurmountable due to the way they were raised, and their romance will not work.
Questions raised by these chapters include: is there no mid-term between the savage reservation and the Brave New World? How is John an outsider from both societies? And how do the contrasting feelings of hedonism and morality coexist in our own lives?