Promiscuity in Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World". John the Savage at his Limits


Term Paper, 2014
16 Pages, Grade: 1,7
Anonymous

Excerpt

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

2 The principle of promiscuity in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World
2.1 The principle of promiscuity in the World State
2.2 The principle of promiscuity in the Savage Reservation

3 Influences on John the Savage
3.1 Indian influence by growing up in the monogamous-oriented Savage Reservation
3.2 Shakespearean influence on John the Savage

4 Examples for John the Save at his limits
4.1 John the Savage’s attempt to kill his mother’s lover Popé
4.1.1 Scene overview
4.1.2 Analysis: Shakespearean and Indian influence on John the Savage
4.2 Lenina’s desire for sex vs. John’s desire for love
4.2.1 Scene overview
4.2.2 Analysis: Indian influence
4.2.3 Analysis: Shakespearean influence
4.3 John the Savage’s suicide
4.3.1 Scene overview
4.3.2 Analysis: Indian and Shakespearean influence

5 Conclusion

Works Cited.

1 Introduction

In this paper I will describe and analyse the difficult situation of John the Savage not only in the World State of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World but also in the Savage Reservation. I will argue how John is brought to his limits in three main scenes throughout the novel and want to show the Indian and Shakespearean influences that determine his actions and later on lead to John the Savage’s suicide.

First, I want to give an overview how promiscuity is realized in the World State and in the Savage Reservation. Later, I want to show the two main reasons for John’s behaviour - on the one hand his Indian and on the other hand his Shakespearean influence. Finally, I will analyse three main scenes in which one can clearly see how John the Savage is solving problems and how his actions are determined by him growing up in the Savage Reservation and by reading Shakespeare.

2 The principle of promiscuity in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World

The two worlds portrayed in Brave New World are almost complete opposites in all regards - socially, culturally and morally. In the World State, the principle of promiscuity is an important part of society because according to Huxley, Miller and Sunstein it preserves people from engaging in politics.1 However, in the Reservation relationships and promiscuity are handled very differently as they are monogamy is encouraged and not suppressed. In the following I will show and explain these differences.

2.1 The principle of promiscuity in the World State

In the World State promiscuity is established in society from the beginning of an infant’s life via conditioning. Even children are expected to join erotic plays with other children2 and are seen as abnormal if not willing to participate.3 Not born but decanted from bottles the infants are influenced by hyponopaedic methods. The idea behind these methods is to control people’s thoughts by repeating the same message while sleeping.4

One of these repetitive messages is “[e]veryone belongs to everyone else, after all.”5 It is repeated three nights a week for four years.6 This statement not only shows that the individual is not important in comparison to the society but it also makes clear that there can be no monogamous relationship. As “everyone belongs to everyone else”7 the promiscuous lifestyle therefore is not only intended but required. Moreover a monogamous relationship based on love is seen as inappropriate and thus is suppressed in the World State. There are more than just techniques that foster promiscuity, as there are multiple institutionalized methods to avoid pregnancy such as pregnancy substitutes, bandolier-containers for contraceptives or sexhormone chewing gum.8 Still only 30 percent of the female population is sterile as the amount of sterile women is regulated by artificial fertilizing processes.9

2.2 The principle of promiscuity in the Savage Reservation

The Savage Reservation can be seen as an opposite pole to the World State. The people in the Reservation are not conditioned neither are they influenced by the government. That is why they live without the modern commodities the people in the World State use every day and do not have the possibility to ever leave the Reservation.10 Still, marriages and families are not only allowed but encouraged. Unlike in the Wold State monogamous relationships are seen as social and appropriate. Therefore the Indians are punishing Linda, John the Savage’s mother who grew up in the World State and was lost in the Savage Reservation, for having sex with the other Indian men. “They say those men are their men”11, she explains not understanding why polygamy is regarded as wrong.12

3 Influences on John the Savage

In order to explain why John the Savage is at his limits concerning promiscuity in the World State but also in the Savage Reservation it is important to look at the circumstances he grew up within. First, I want to give an overview of the conditions in the Savage Reservation. Later I will to show the Shakespearean influence by which his actions are determined.

3.1 Indian influence by growing up in the monogamous-oriented Savage Reservation

As he grew up in the Savage Reservation in New Mexico, John the Savage is mostly influenced by his environment and not only by his mother Linda. Even if the other Indians and especially the children avoid him and do not include him in their every-day-life, he is affected by the society’s social conventions and by their religious beliefs. This idea can be proven by the following quotation in which John’s mother Linda tries to explain Bernard Marx and Lenina Crowne that her son could never understand that having intercourse with the other women’s men multiple times is the normal way and not immoral as the Indians believe.

“I [Linda] never could make him [John the Savage] understand that that was what civilized people ought to do. Being mad’s infectious, I believe. Anyhow, John seems to have caught it form the Indians. Because, of course, he was with them a lot. Even though they were so beastly to him and wouldn’t let him do all the things the other boys did.”13

This quote shows the influence of the Indians and therefore the whole Savage Reservation on John. However, he is not accepted by the society as his mother behaves inappropriate and thus is excluded.14 Being left out and bullied, he tries to find a way out and commits himself to books and reading. “The more the boys pointed and sang, the harder he [John] read”15, his actions are summarized. First he reads the only book Linda has: The Chemical and Bacteriological Conditioning of the Embryo. Practical Instructions for Beta Embryo-Store

Workers, later thanks to Popé - one of his mother’s lovers - he is able to read The Bible and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. His enthusiastic reading which emerges him from the hard reality is a reason for the great impact Shakespeare’s works have on him. I want to show this effect in the following.

3.2 Shakespearean influence on John the Savage

Beside the Indian influence, John is affected by the reading of Shakespeare which determines his actions. By chance The Complete Works of William Shakespeare came into his possession as Popé brings it into their home. Even if John does not really understand the meaning of the words, he is tantalized by their beauty.16 Nevertheless, he adopts the Shakespearean concepts of - for instance - the idea of intense and tragic love without reflecting them which leads to problems for him, which I want to analyse in the following.17 By reading Shakespeare John the Savage is far more educated and literate than the people in the Reservation as well as in the World State.18

4 Examples for John the Savage at his limits

In order to show why John the Savage is at his limits when facing promiscuity, I want to analyse three main scenes in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. In general I want to give an overview of the scene and then outline both the Indian and Shakespearean influence that determines and misleads his actions.

4.1 John the Savage’s attempt to kill his mother’s lover Popé

Firstly, I want to analyse a scene in which John the Savage tries to murder one of his mother’s sexual partners. This will show that he faces his limits also in the Savage Reservation and not only in the New World.

4.1.1 Scene overview

The passage is part of the eight chapter. After John the Savage is first exposed to the works of Shakespeare at the age of approximately twelve when Popé finds and gives him The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. John the Savage’s hate for Popé - one of his mother’s sexual partners - becomes more real and intense as he starts reading Hamlet. Yet, as his anger is freshly fuelled by his first reading of only a few random words, John does not kill Popé straight away, he waits. When one day he comes home from playing19 and sees Linda and Popé lying in bed together, sleeping, the wait is over. Muttering “when he is drunk asleep” - a quote out of Hamlet - he tries to stab Popé with a knife. However, Popé - who only suffered a minor wound - is able to repel John. Afterwards he forces John to look into his eyes therefore he starts crying. Popé starts laughing and tells John to leave.20

4.1.2 Analysis: Shakespearean and Indian influence on John the Savage

The described scene is highly dominated by the Shakespearean impact on John the Savage. His anger for Popé increases as he first starts to read The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. When reading the first random page of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, John the Savage quotes Act III, Scene 4:

“Nay, but to live

In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed, Stew’d in corruption, honeying and making love Over the nasty sty … “21

In the original play, Hamlet is speaking in revulsion when finding out that his mother, the queen Gertrude, has had sex with her new husband - Hamlet’s uncle Claudius, the king of Denmark.22

Reading this quotation, John’s hate for Popé increases as the words “talked to him […] about Linda and Popé”.23 His disgust for his mother’s sexual partners, which was initiated by his Indian surrounding, increased when reading Shakespeare. Even if he does not fully understand the meaning of the words, Hamlet tantalizes John. While reading Hamlet’s disgust for his mother’s having sex, John the Savage transfers Hamlet’s feelings to his own situation. His revulsion for the father-like figure of Popé becomes more real through the words of Shakespeare and so does his wish to kill him.24 Still, he does not kill Popé right away but waits - as Hamlet did. Few days after, John catches his mother sleeping naked next to Popé and quotes Hamlet in Act III, scene 3 before trying to stab Linda’s lover oedipally:

“When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage Or in the incestuous pleasure of his bed …”25

Hamlet uses this quote when explaining how he would kill his uncle: using his sword when Claudius is sinning.26 John, however, uses the quote as a doctrine when trying to stab Popé.

Summing up, one has to emphasize the Shakespearean influence on John the Savage as he not only uses Hamlet’s words but also acts by them without reflecting them. Only by reading Hamlet, John’s detestation grows and brings him to the point where he wants to kill Popé. And even then the act of the stabbing is accompanied by Hamlet’s words as John tries to murder Linda’s lover when he is “in the […] pleasure of his bed” - just as Hamlet wanted the murder to happen.27

4.2. Lenina’s desire for sex vs. John’s desire for love

Secondly, I want to analyse a scene in which John’s desire for love fails because of Lenina’s desire for sex. I also want to show once more the huge differences in the role of promiscuity in the two major societies of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World in order to explain John’s reaction in the situation.

4.2.1 Scene overview

The scene is part of the 13th chapter. Expecting his friend Watson Helmholtz John the Savage opens the door to find Lenina Crowne who - with the help of soma - finally wants to confess her feelings for John. Before she has any chance to do so, John starts expressing his admiration for Lenina and talking about not being worthy. Besides the concept of marriage, he also explains that at his Reservation in Malpais one has to earn love by bearing a lot of pain which is nonsense in Lenina’s ears.

[...]


1 Miller, Gavin. “Political Repression and Sexual Freedom in Brave New World and 1984.” Huxley's Brave New World: Essays. Ed. David G. Izzo and Kim Kirkpatrick. Jefferson, N.C. McFarland, 2008. 17-25. Print. p.17.

2 May, Keith M. Aldous Huxley. London: Elek, 1972. Print. Novelists and their world. P. 100-101.

3 Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. 6. Aufl. Hamburg: Petersen, 1994. Print. Klassiker des Gebrauchs an Schule und Universität 10. p.46.

4 The international Webster's comprehensive dictionary of the English language. Köln: Bellavista, 2004. Print.p.621.

5 Huxley : 59.

6 Huxley : 60.

7 Huxley : 56.

8 Firchow, Peter E. Aldous Huxley, Satirist and Novelist. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1972. Print. Minnesota monographs in the humanities v. 6.w p. 101.

9 Huxley : 28.

10 Chrostek, Katharina. Utopie und Dystopie bei Michel Houellebecq: Komparatistische Studien. Frankfurt am Main [u.a.]: Lang, 2011. Print. Studien und Dokumente zur Geschichte der Romanischen Literaturen 59. p. 70.

11 Huxley : 132.

12 Huxley : 127-135.

13 Huxley : 128.

14 Firchow : 130.

15 Huxley : 135.

16 Huxley : 136-137.

17 Nate, Richard. Biologismus und Kulturkritik: Eugenische Diskurse der Moderne. Würzburg: Königshausen u. Neumann, 2014. Print. p. 394.

18 Sion, Ronald T. Aldous Huxley and the Search for Meaning: A Study of the Eleven Novels. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2010. Print. p. 129.

19 No specific time is given.

20 Huxley : 136-139.

21 Huxley : 137.

22 Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Ed. Holger Michael Klein. [Nachdr.]. Stuttgart: Reclam, 2014. Print. Reclams Universal-Bibliothek 9292 : Fremsprachtentexte. p. 132.

23 Huxley : 137.

24 Smethurst, Paul. “"O brave new world that has no poets in it": Shakespeare and Scientific Utopia in Brave New World.” Huxley's Brave New World: Essays. Ed. David G. Izzo and Kim Kirkpatrick. Jefferson, N.C. McFarland, 2008. 96-106. Print. p. 101.

25 Huxley : 138.

26 Shakespeare (Hamlet) : 127.

27 Shakespeare (Hamlet) : 127.

Excerpt out of 16 pages

Details

Title
Promiscuity in Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World". John the Savage at his Limits
College
Catholic University Eichstätt-Ingolstadt
Course
Modern Utopian Literature
Grade
1,7
Year
2014
Pages
16
Catalog Number
V282744
ISBN (eBook)
9783668159594
ISBN (Book)
9783668159600
File size
1409 KB
Language
English
Tags
BNW, Huxley, promiscuity, utopian, literature, Aldous, John, Savage, limits, sexuality, Brave, New, World, Utopie
Quote paper
Anonymous, 2014, Promiscuity in Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World". John the Savage at his Limits, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/282744

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