Can you describe John's Shakespearean world? And why is this world unrealistic?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In "Brave New World," John's Shakespearean world is an aesthetic world, and, as such, it is not in accord with the desensitized and artificial world of those outside the Reservation.

When John first arrives in the New World, his exclamation is a line from Shakespeare's The Tempest:

O brave new world/ That has such people in't.

In Shakespeare's play, Prospero replies to Miranda, "'Tis new to thee."  This line proves the irony of John's experience in the New World.  For, he later becomes completely disillusioned with the people in this world.  For instance, in contrast to John's revering purity as he watches Lenina sleep--quoting Romeo,

If I profane with my unworthiest hand/This holy shrine...

Lenina offers herself immediately to John, stripping before him, acting in the way in which she has been conditioned:  "Everyone belongs to everyone."  Repulsed by what he considers immoral behavior, John calls her a "strumpet."

In the latter chapters, John is reviled by the treatment of death in the New World.  His mother, Linda, dies in an unnatural manner, a slave to the soma which has desensitized her even to her own death. When the children gather around watching this death with no emotion as they are conditioned to do so, he becomes enraged in his love for his mother.  Likewise, he is repulsed by the Bokanovsky Group menial workers who get on an elevator with him in Chapter XV.  When John repeats his mantra-quote from The Tempest, there is no comfort.  He begins to preach freedom and rebellion to a petrified group of Delta twins, and he throws the soma basket out the window.  Uncomprehending, everyone becomes upset because no one knows what freedom means.

Religion, emotion, and self-denial have been replaced in the Brave New World.  There are no tragedies such as Othello since tragedy requires social instability and there no longer is any since any rebellion or questioning is quickly subdued with soma or, if necessary, banishment to islands.  The souls of the people of the New World have been desensitized by hypnopaedia and soma.  By the time one is an adult, he/she has absorbed all the social conditioning necessary to fit in to his/her place in society.  But, in John's Shakespearean world of soul and conscience, heart and mind, one does not "fit in." John is an anachronism in the New World.

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