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How is the idea of redemption reflected in the Brave New World by its characters,...

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seerboldly | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted November 3, 2013 at 1:29 AM via web

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How is the idea of redemption reflected in the Brave New World by its characters, especially John and his death?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 3, 2013 at 2:04 AM (Answer #1)

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To a great extent, the major characters represent in Brave New World different degrees of the force of redemption.  Lenina, Helmholtz, Bernard, and John each represent a form of redemption because they represent anomalies to the World State's vision of supposed perfection.  They represent a form of human dissatisfaction in a world that is becoming more dehumanized.  Their lack of willingness to fully accept the conditions of the world around them help to make them unhappy.  Yet, their unhappiness is a form of redemption because it embodies a form of dissent and defiance.  This might not be as pronounced in Lenina and Helmholtz, but it is present.  Lenina's unwillingness to simply conform helps her to embrace a status of a rebel in how she uses sex as well as how she covets men like Bernard and John.  Helmholtz's support of John when he is in trouble as well as his affinity for Shakespeare are acts of rebellion.  In both instances, redemption is evident because both characters display tendencies of which the World State would not approve.  Hope is evident in their own frustration because it is a reminder of the imperfect condition that humans represent in an increasingly atomized and technocratic world.  Bernard's own malaise and unwillingness to simply accept Soma and the conditions that surround him as a part of his being help to provide an initial condition of redemption.  Bernard is incapable of embracing the world as it is.  He is fundamentally unsatisfied with the world in which he lives.  While he cannot be a full force of redemption, he can be seen as redemptive because his consciousness is not one shared by the World State.

As the "savage," there is much within John that can constitute a sense of redemption.  The "brave new world" he enters is one in which there is initial hope and optimism.  Fueled by his love of Shakespeare and the belief that what can be is capable of matching one's transformative abilities, John enters London and does so as a human being.  His condition of being human is fundamentally redemptive because he is so apart from the constructed notion of how human beings are meant to be in the World State.  John is also redemptive because he is a consistent voice of dissent as to how life is lived in the World State.  His repudiation of Soma and his affirmation of marriage are both actions of human dignity.  They represent values and ideals that embrace the condition of being human.  These would be redemptive because they are so opposite of what social mores in the World State are.  John's unwillingness to be a part of the experiment and his constant self- abuse are also acts of redemption.  In a world in which there is no moral or ethical authority, John seeks to be that moral order himself.  When he is sickened by his own thoughts, he abuses himself and punishes himself, and in doing so, embraces the imperfect condition of being human.  In his own negation, John recognizes that he refuses to be a part of a social system that is so offensive to his basic tenets.  While suicide is not normally seen as a redemptive act, John's actions make clear that he would rather die than be a part of the world that is so abhorrent to his basic sensibilities.  In this, there is redemption for it rejects a repudiation of that which is known to be wrong.

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