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Brave New World: The Borrowings from Other Texts and its Effects

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Authors reference other texts to construct emphasis on themes, bring out characterization and intrigue the reader on deeper meanings. Published in 1932, Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” depicts a dystopian society composed on the reliance of drugs, production of new technology and efficiency of mass production. In the novel, there is constant reference to William Shakespeare including direct quotes from plays and poems.

Huxley portrays the consequences of consumerism through a satirical comparison between the ridicule, advanced society against the ‘normal’ society of the Shakespearean era. He deliberately emphasizes the mocking tone inflicted into the plot; to drag a contrast between the two societies; to display the characterization of characters as well as to represent the theme of isolation.

While the novel references to other texts, the title itself, “Brave New World” is a direct quote from “The Tempest”. The words spoken by Miranda, an innocent, never seen more than two humans in her life, exclaims, “How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, that as such people in it!”. This displays the similar themes in both pieces of literature such as colonialism or foreignness to the reader/audience and elements of “Brave New World” being a tragedy. Throughout the book, the author uses the character John, part of the uncivilized, “savage reservation”, to remind the reader the common theme of “Brave New World” through the use of repetition. Huxley does this to create irony as both John and Miranda declare this line when they are greeted by a new society.

Furthermore, Huxley uses repetition in order to juxtapose the two societies (advanced society and the savage reservation), showing how different each are but also, emphasizing these two societies are more comparable than they are originally visualized: both societies share the common factor of believing that their society is the “perfect society” and having two isolated characters (Bernard and John) who want to escape their society. Yet, both return to their comfort zone; Bernard did not take the opportunity to go to Iceland and John resulted in isolating himself to continue to pursue his beliefs.

Huxley also depicts the character of “John the Savage” as a direct reflection of Caliban in “The Tempest”: they share the same qualities of being in a society surrounded by people that mock them, want to be isolated and they both engage in the effect of being an outsider in a new world. In the end, both characters are left in isolation. Tragedy occurs when John chooses to live on his own and later commits suicide and Caliban is left on the island on his own. This technique allows Huxley to use an already successful character to express the misery of isolation.

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Another Shakespearean drama referenced frequently in the novel is “Romeo and Juliet”. Huxley uses direct quotes from this play to communicate the theme of love between John and Lenina. While Lenina is on a “soma-holiday”, John gazes at her and recites Romeo’s line, “On the white wonder of dear Juliet’s hand, […] pure and vestal modesty, still blush, as thinking their own kisses sin”. Not only does this display a relationship between John and Lenina but also, that they are from two different societies identical to Romeo and Juliet to the point at which their families were mortal enemies.

The reader can distinguish that John is an embodiment of Shakespeare. John attempts to encourage everyone to utilize Shakespeare to the degree he uses him. He eagerly questions, “Do they read Shakespeare?” while walking past the school library attempting to manifest Shakespeare into the advanced society. John continues, as he introduces Shakespeare to Helmholtz, a poet, “Is there no pity sitting in the clouds, […] O sweet my mother, cast me not away: Delay this marriage for a month, a week”. Huxley included this line from “Romeo and Juliet” to show the contrast between the role of a mother in the two societies. The word “mother” is almost inexistent in the advanced society. Helmholtz’s laughter draws humor in this scenario: the obscenity of having a mother. Again, Huxley uses satire to mock the so-called perfect society by the ambiguous meanings of mother.

One other Shakespearean tragedy that is referenced in “Brave New World” is “Othello”, “Othello, he remembered, was like the hero of Three Weeks in a Helicopter- a black man” thinks John after seeing a “feely” with Lenina. Huxley attempts to show the reader that similarities can be drawn. John is attempting to relate to this new world by looking through the eyes of Shakespeare or Othello. Moreover, there is a reference to “The Merchant of Venice”, “What’s in those (remembering The Merchant of Venice) those caskets?”. It shows how John applies his real-life situations in terms of Shakespeare. The effect that it gives the reader in showing how one copes with a foreign world: by relating the world to a recollection of comfort.

This piece of literature also references the historical figure, Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company. Ford is seen as a god even to the extent of the calendar as the measurement of years are in A.F. (After Ford). His principles of mass production are taken to produce babies and “pneumatic” (a word that originally was to refer to an air-filled tire) to describe attractive women. This allusion forms an element of religion, time with the fundamentals of technology. It gives the reader an interesting approach on how the perfect society was created being an influential piece of history.

The inspiration of Shakespeare to create a novel that drags attention to how consumerism and advancement of technology can lead to forgetting the significance of historical literature and religion. Huxley uses Shakespeare as he would remain relevant for years to come. “Brave New World” employs Shakespeare and historical referencing for producing emphasis, drawing contrast and similarities, creating characterization, portraying common themes as well as generating a satirical, sarcastic tone. These techniques give the effect, towards the reader, of showing comparison together with a representation of a deeper meaning.

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Brave New World: The Borrowings from Other Texts and its Effects. (2022, Jun 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 5, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/brave-new-world-the-borrowings-from-other-texts-and-its-effects/
“Brave New World: The Borrowings from Other Texts and its Effects.” Edubirdie, 29 Jun. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/brave-new-world-the-borrowings-from-other-texts-and-its-effects/
Brave New World: The Borrowings from Other Texts and its Effects. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/brave-new-world-the-borrowings-from-other-texts-and-its-effects/> [Accessed 5 Dec. 2022].
Brave New World: The Borrowings from Other Texts and its Effects [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 29 [cited 2022 Dec 5]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/brave-new-world-the-borrowings-from-other-texts-and-its-effects/
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