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  Helmholtz calls Shakespeare a “marvelous propaganda technician.” How does he...

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kathia1993 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted April 17, 2011 at 6:50 AM via web

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Helmholtz calls Shakespeare a “marvelous propaganda technician.” How does he explain Shakespeare’s success?

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 24, 2011 at 12:31 PM (Answer #1)

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In Chapter 12 of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, Helmholtz Watson, an emotional engineer who writes political and social verses to promote the political philosophy of the New World and pacify people, feels dissatisfied in his writing. So, when John the Savage reads Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, a play written in blank verse replete with beautiful metaphors, similes, imagery, and other literary devices, Helmholtz is charmed, especially after listening to the famous balcony scene of Act II. He tells John that the verbal detail is a "superb piece of emotional engineering." 

The emotional language of Romeo and Juliet is what Helmholtz finds fascinating.  He understands that Shakespeare is such a "marvellous propaganda machine" because he had so many "insane, excruciating things to get excited about."  People must be hurt and angered and upset; otherwise, they cannot have such "x-rayish phrases" as those that Shakespeare can employ.  The New World does not have these.  No one could possibly be that upset about a girl or a boy.  Helmholtz wonders what he could use to arouse such emotion, 

"I don't know," he said at last, "I don't  know."


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