In Brave New World, What is Helmholtz's opinion of Shakespeare?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The answer to this question can be found in Chapter Twelve, which is when John the Savage reads Romeo and Juliet to Helmholtz, with something of a mixed reception. Interestingly, in spite of Helmhholtz's openness to new ideas, he shows that he is unable to escape the way that he himself is a product of socialisation of his age, as his shown by the way that Juliet protests against her parents forcing her to marry Paris, to which he responds with "uncontrollable guffawing." Note what the narrator tells us about Helmholtz's response to these lines:

The mother and father (grotesque obscenity) forcing the daughter to have someone she didn't want! And the idiotic girl not saying that she was having someone else whom (for the moment, at any rate) she preferred! In its smutty absurdity the situation was irresistibly comic.

So, although Helmholtz is able to appreciate Shakespeare as a genius of "emotional engineering," at the same time, his conditioning makes him unable to appreciate Shakespeare in the same way that John is able to appreciate Shakespeare, as notions such as love and loyalty are completely absent from his experience.

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