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Connor Marshman Period 6

Literary Time Capsule: Brave New World Plot Synopsis: Set in London, England, the reader is introduced to a dystopian world set up into intelligence classes: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Epsilon in descending order. In this society, humans are produced in test tubes rather than conceived naturally. To maintain this intelligence disparity, children of lower classes are made less smart through oxygen treatments and chemicals. Parenting and family is nonexistent, and such concepts are considered archaic and disdained. Children are brainwashed through sleep teaching and violent shock therapy. Sex, drugs, and self gratification are glorified as the chief point of existence. Lasting relationships and emotions for other individuals beyond friendship are also discouraged. Early on, the reader is introduced to the character of Bernard Marx. Marx does not fit the mold of Alpha society, because he is shorter than others Alphas and does not participate in frequent sex and drug use (the drug being somathe perfect tranquilizer having no side effects). Marx attracts the attention of Leninaa shallow, beautiful woman who is intrigued by Marxs unusual behavior. She reluctantly agrees to participate in a trip with him to a Savage Reservation in New Mexicoone of the few places left on the Earth that has old customs such as marriage and sexual ethics. Among other Native Americans, the pair meet Linda and Johna pair abandoned by an Alpha from London. Both Linda and John have been opposed by the locals their whole lives. Linda is regarded as a whore for her rampant sex with local Native American men and John for his skin color. Linda and John are taken back to London by Marx and Lenina. Coincidentally, the Director Marx works for is the Alpha who abandoned Linda and his son, John. When the Director publically confronts Marx on his unusual behavior and threatens to have him shipped to Iceland, Marx tells the crowd about his son. The embarrassing scene forces the Director to resign. Marx enjoys temporary fame for the retrieval of a savage. Whereas formerly a societal rebel, Marxs newfound fame has changed his personality into that of a cocky, sex obsessed individual. In this new world, John finds little intrigue and spirals into a depression. His mother is slowly dying. Although Lenina tries to seduce the young man, he refuses. He wishes to marry her, but she does not understand. After a scene by John at the hospital Linda dies in, Marx, John, and a friend of Marxs, Helmholtz Watson, face Mustapha Mondthe World Controller of Western Europe. He sends Marx and Watson to be exiled on islands, but forces John to stay. He closes himself up in a lighthouse where he attempts to maintain his old world values. He tries to achieve penance by whipping himself. However, the public finds out and makes a feely or sexual film of his practiceturning a religious act into a sexual fetish. When a crowd, including Lenina, approaches his home, they create an orgy and John gives in and participates. Feeling absolutely vile for betraying the values he sought to maintain, he commits suicide.

Connor Marshman Period 6

Major Characters: Bernard Marx: Marx is awkward for an Alpha. He is short and rarely participates in the sex and drug use of his peers. He enjoys thinking and admiring nature. His unusual behavior garners him a reputation as strange. Nevertheless, despite these initial anti-societal qualities, his popularity after finding and bringing a savage to London gives him newfound love for his society. Now, he engages in frequent sex and takes on a self important attitude. However, his connections with the rebellious savage ultimately force him to be exiled on an island. Lenina: She wholeheartedly embraces the sex and drug filled society she lives in. Rarely does she falter in her beliefs of sex and self gratification versus complex ideas such as love and responsibility. Lenina pursues both Marx and John. Surprisingly, both individuals she lusts for are people who defy the society she lovingly exalts. Johns qualities both in look and behavior even give her notions of having him as a long term partnera controversial idea for a society that discourages monogamy. John: John is not Native American, but he has lived on a Savage Reservation all his life. This is due to the fact that his father, Mustapha Mond, left him and his mother there to cover up his child. John rejects the hedonistic society of London. He believes in old world values such as love, marriage, family, and responsibility for other individuals. The new world he arrives in leads to his demise, because he gives in to its influence. His shame for betraying the values he sought to maintain result in suicide. Linda: The mother of John. Despite being abandoned on the reservation, she never forgets the society she came from. While on the reservation, she always longs for the society she grew up in. Even in a culture which disdains rampant sex, Linda continues to maintain her own societal practices by having relations with Native American men (some husbands). Consequently, she is fiercely opposed by many nativesespecially women. Returning to London, she makes up for years without the luxuries of soma by being in a drug filled haze the rest of her existence. Mustapha Mond: He is titled the Resident World Controller of Western Europe. The man has the influence to censor all information as he sees fit. He is part of an elite group who control the whole globe. Interestingly, Mond enjoys literature, science, and religion. However, he puts the notion of global happiness before the pursuit of truth. He reasons such concepts will not bring happiness to mankind. Though he was a promising scientist, Mond chose to forego such a prospect in favor of censorship. He is the ultimate example of how the notion of happiness is corruptive. Helmholtz Watson: He works at the College of Emotional Engineering and writes poetry. However, many of his rhymes are propaganda fodder that he disdains and considers worthless. When he tries to write poetry that deals with melancholy topics like lonelinesshis job is threatened. Watson shares with Marx a dislike for the society they live in. Both Watson and

Connor Marshman Period 6

Marx share a close bond. When Marx changes with his sudden popularity, Watson is noticeably upset. Watson also identifies with the Shakespeare interested John. Historical Context: Written in 1931, Huxleys Brave New World was completed shortly after the turn of the 20th century. The beginning of the 1900s would mark radical changes in society. For instance, the stock market crash of 1929 left few confident in job stability. Such a notion is the antithesis of Huxleys visionwhich portrays permanent job stability for its inhabitants and a seemingly thriving society. Where these ideas are contradictory, the sex revolution of the 20th century is paralleled in Huxleys tale. After the Victorian Era of extreme modesty, many youths began to promote ideas of free sex outside of a marital arrangement. In Brave New World, Huxley runs with this ideapushing the sex revolution to its furthest point of radicalism. In this society, sex and self gratification is the point of existence. Marriage or even permanent relationships are virtually nonexistent. The turn of the century also marked landmarks in mass productionsuch as Fords Model T. Particularly, the production line was popularized by Henry Ford. Ford is glorified to the point of a godlike status in Huxleys work. His ideas of group work and each individual having one single purpose translate in Brave New World through the rigid caste system defining each persons abilities and place in society. Flappers unique to the early 1900s marked a small yet radical revolution for women who began to wear shorter hair styles and more boyish clothes. Huxley also emphasizes female empowerment through sex. Characters like Lenina and Linda are not afraid to seduce a man. Psychological experimentation, such as Pavlovs experiments, is also brought up in the novel through the cerebral manipulation of infants. (Historical Context: Brave New World) Personal Reaction: I think my immediate reaction to the novel was shock. The notion of young children engaging in sexual acts was truly disturbingparticularly by how the novel encourages such behavior. It furthers Huxleys view of sex ultimately becoming nothing more of a bodily function than breathing or eating. The whole book is filled with shocking imagery. The scene in the Singery which is meant for the participants to get closer to the Divine devolves into a sex orgy. The combination of sex and sacredness is unsettling. This is especially seen when Johns self flagellation is turned into a feely, or when his act of his penance causes a watching crowd to perform an orgy. Sex in Huxleys world is a god. I really feel as though Huxley was making a social statement through his novel about what his society was devolving into. Today, it seems apparent how his vision is becoming manifest with less individuals getting married and the furthered notion of friends with benefits. Like Brave New World, todays society is interested in pleasuring itself and less focused on noble qualities like responsibility towards others. This tale is certainly a warning for what our world could easily progress into.

Connor Marshman Period 6

Important Quotations: Of course it does. Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations of misery. And, of course, stability isnt 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 (Huxley 221). This effectively statement sums up Huxleys future society. In order to maintain global happiness, society has sacrificed meaningful aspects of life such as long term relationships, family, and even love. The fact is that life would not be meaningful if it were not for a little sadness or loss. Persistent pleasure, like an overplayed song or frequently eaten dish, can get old. Happiness, in the basic pleasure sense, has its place. Mourning of a dead friend or even regret after an argument are ways a person grows intellectually and learns to appreciate aspects of life not formerly noticed. So, happiness is only one value on the whole emotional color spectrum. Also, happiness can be derived from other places besides surface level pleasure. Deep qualities such as empathy and selflessness can provide satisfaction for a person. Yet, Huxleys society has deemed long term relationships or selflessness a potential taker of happiness. So, in order to prevent this, empathetic relationships are banned altogether. All thats left in Huxleys society is shallow pleasure experienced when eating, drinking, or having sex. Not food shared amongst friends or a love between to close individuals, but hollow pleasure with no grander meaning. Thus it makes sense that Mustapha Mond would say, Happiness is never grand. If you allowed yourselves to think of God, you wouldnt allow yourselves to be degraded by pleasant vices. Youd have a reason for bearing things patiently, for doing things with courage. Ive seen it with the Indians (Huxley 236). This is another example of how even the Divine is ignored for the sake of happiness. Since religion could potentially cause division or create ethical regret, it is eliminated. God is not explicitly condemned, but stands in the way of shallow happiness. With God comes a code of conduct and expectations to uphold. Divine justice is an unnecessary burden in a society that promotes no responsibility. Surprisingly, Mustapha Mond believes in a God but chooses to propagate and believe in the lie of a Godless universe for the sake of happiness. Mond makes the ultimate sacrifice in ignoring God to further a happy society. Therefore, he has put happiness before God and raised this simple emotion to a Godlike status.

Connor Marshman Period 6

O brave new world, O brave new world In his mind the singing words seemed to change their tone. They had mocked him through his misery and remorse, mocked him with how hideous a note of cynical derision! Fiendishly laughing, they had insisted on the low squalor, the nauseous ugliness of the nightmare O brave new world! It was a challenge, a command. (Huxley 210). Like Miranda in the Shakespearean tale, John initially looks at the new world he resides in as an exciting and fantastic place. Nevertheless, due to the emphasis on shallow pleasures and disdain for values he loves, such as relationships and family, John quickly discovers this world is truly cold and hollow. Thus, when John again declares the phrase brave new world later on in the novel, it takes on a cynical, ironic tone. Through John, the lone character in the novel who bridges the gap between this futuristic world and our own current society, we can clearly understand the novels title. This world is not the exciting, bold society that the title may have originally implied to the reader. With the novel completed, the reader can reach a similar conclusion as the character John who see through the glitz of this world and reveals it to be shallow and unsatisfying. AP Prompt Responses When in Doubt, Its from the Bible It does not seem coincidental that the concluding scene of Brave New World bears a strong resemblance to the Biblical episode involving Lot and his family in the immoral city of Sodom and Gomorrah. Like the Biblical account, an immoral crowd gathers around and threatens the dwelling of what is considered holyLot and John respectively. The novel elaborates, In a few minutes there were dozens of them, standing in a wide circle round the lighthouse, staring, laughing, clicking their cameras...through the babel he heard cries of, Whip, whip, the whip! (Huxley 255). Huxleys vision of the future is about as ungodly as society can get: rampant fornication, an atheistic culture, and the disdain of family and empathetic relationships. It makes sense, then, that one could draw a parallel between Huxleys future London and Sodom and Gomorrah. Both John and Lot chose their dwellings in seemingly beautiful locations. The novel also details, the near was as seductive as the far. The woods, the open stretches of heather and yellow gorse, the clumps of Scotch firs, the shining ponds with their overhanging birch trees, their water lilies, their beds of rushesthese were beautiful (Huxley 245). It is also believed that the biblical place of Sodom and Gomorrah was gorgeous due to its close vicinity to the fateful Garden of Eden. However, the truth is that both settings are home Just as members of the crowd in Sodom and Gomorrah demand the handsome angels to have sex with, so also in Brave New World the crowd desires Johns self flagellation almost as if its a sexual fetish. This notion is manifested in the novels concluding sex orgy. Another biblical allusion is seen in the use of babel which seems purposeful in connection to Johns tower. The harkens to the tale of the tower of Babel where

Connor Marshman Period 6

Is He Serious? And other Ironies The most profound irony in Huxleys novel is the usage of words like savage and civilization. Both words are used frequently, but their connotations seemed to be flipped on their heads. John is often referred to in the story as being a savage. Yet, in many ways John is the only character who does not give in to savage impulses such as frequent sex or feelies. The text mentions regarding Johns indifference for these civilized tools, [He] shows surprisingly little astonishment at, or awe of, civilized inventions (Huxley 158-159). Conversely, civilization in Huxleys novel is the epitome of primal impulsiveness. Mustapha Mond goes on about civilization in the novels near conclusion, saying, Call it the fault of civilization. God isnt compatible with machinery and scientific and universal happinessOur civilization has chosen machinery and medicine and happiness. Thats why I have to keep these books locked up in the safe. Theyre smut (Huxley 234). Civilization denotes the height of advancementyet Mond details a society that destroys any knowledge contradicting their pleasure filled, selfish lifestyles. Really, the individuals of this society are far from civilizedchoosing to remain ignorant of a god or any shocking information regarding the ethics of their lifestyles. John, the savage, is the only individual wise enough to stand up against this way of thinking. When in Doubt, its from Shakespeare John, being well versed in literature, often recites Shakespeare in the Brave New World. In fact, John recites the soliloquy of the character Miranda in the Shakespearean play The Tempest which inspires the names of the novel (Huxley 210). Both the character Miranda in The Tempest and John share strong similarities. For example, both characters are isolated in a foreign land. Johns mother Linda is forced to stay on a Savage Reservation due to her being pregnant with him. She is abandoned by her lover. Linda admits in one altercation with John, If it hadnt 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 127). Likewise, Mirandas father Prospero, once the Duke of Milan, is exiled to an island by a man also close to himhis brother. Thus, both Linda and Prospero have been betrayed by beloved individuals. The confined existence of Miranda and John in foreign lands makes them nave about society and the world. Thus, when John at last sees civilization he reiterates the declaration of Miranda, O wonder...How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! (Huxley 139). Of course, this optimistic state by John will prove to be bitterly ironic. Society will prove not be goodly but in fact a negative influence will cause John to take his own life. Sharing the emotional traits of his counterpart Miranda, the passionate John cannot stand the ungodly world which has corrupted him and in anger and sorrow kills himself (Huxley 259). Yes, Hes a Christ Figure, too. It makes sense that a man dying inside a large upright artifice (a tower) would evoke the idea of Jesus Christ. Just this image is displayed in the novels conclusion (Huxley 259). The Jesus-like

Connor Marshman Period 6

depiction of John is also seen in his actions throughout the novel. In one episode where he stands upon a stone; John recalls, I stood against a rock in the middle of the day, in summer, with my arms out, like Jesus on the CrossI wanted to know what it was like being crucified (Huxley 137). The immorality which surrounds John is reminiscent of the worldly evil which Jesus must face. Both John and Jesus travel to a new world from a faraway place. Jesus home being that of heaven and Johns a distant reservation. Therefore, they both must confront an immoral world which is new and alien. Moreover, they both must maintain their purity in this godless environment. Unfortunately, John would become a failed Jesus figure, because, whereas Jesus does not budge under temptation, John gives in to his sexual impulses during an orgy. The novel states on Johns giving in to sin, Suddenly somebody started singing Orgy-porgy and, in a moment, they had all caught up the refrain and, singing, had begun to dance. Orgyporgybeating one another in six-eight time (Huxley 258). Feeling he has betrayed his goals of maintaining purity, John is sorrowful and angry. Johns hasty suicide now evokes the individual Judasa man who betrayed Jesus and his own faith. Like John, Judas was angry about his traitorous decisions and quickly committed suicide. Envoi: A Post-Colonial Lens Given that Native Americans in Huxleys narrative are the only remaining savages in the world, it makes sense that his text has a post-colonial message. After all, society seems to bear startling similarities to the narrow-minded logic of 20th century European colonists. Just as uneducated Europeans assumed their dark skinned, foreign speaking neighbors were savages, so also Huxleys world reaches this conclusion about John. John is considered odd and foolish for not participating in the civilized participation in feelies or frequent sex. Bernard comments on Johns presumed savagery when stating, The savageshow surprisingly little astonishment at, or awe of, civilized inventions (Huxley 158). Although civilized society regards this foreigner as savage, such a conclusion is infantile, because John demonstrates more civilized logic than any non-native. John understands that good and bad comes in life. He sees life with the risk of being at times unhappy is much more preferable than being in a medicated and sex filled haze of an existence. John reaffirms this claim when speaking with Mustapha Mond. When Mond tells him his life choices may bring pain and suffering, he simply replies, I claim them [problems] all (Huxley 240). Though the White colonists of yesteryear liked to think they were bringing enlightenment to their native counterparts, their enslavement of these races demonstrated they were truly the savages in the situation. Similarly, the novel shows the irony of a self proclaimed civilized world which puts an emphasis on shallow pleasure. This shows anything but civilized behavior, because great facets of life have been sacrificed like love and faith. Instead, the lowly savage in society embodies these complex notions.

Connor Marshman Period 6

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Historical Context: Brave New World." EXPLORING Novels. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Student Resource Center - Gold. Web. 1 Mar. 2010.