What is an example of a metaphor in Brave New World?

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter 18, John, the Savage, who has returned with his mother Linda to the civilized world, literally digs in a garden after his mother's death. Digging is then used as a metaphor: John is "digging, too, in his mind." Obviously, he is not literally digging in his mind with a spade, but the word "digging" describes the kind of deep thinking he is engaging in. It applies a concrete image to an abstract thought. 

The image extends: John is "laboriously turning up the substance of his thought. ... and he drove in his spade once, and again, and yet again." This offers the reader more of an image of how hard and persistently John works at thinking. Metaphors help characterize a character in a novel and this metaphor of John digging laboriously into his own mind is consistent with and reinforces the John we know: he does work hard and he does like to think, which separates him from most of the people in his brave new world.

In the same passage, John, as he often does, thinks of lines from Shakespeare. The words he quotes to himself are likened to "thunder" in his mind. Of course, they are not really thunder, which is a metaphor, but against the pallid cliches and sayings he is constantly subjected to, they sound as loud and bold and frightening as thunder does to him. 

In chapter 9 Bernard Marx, viewing the wreck of Linda, for so many years denied the luxuries of her lost world, uses the metaphor "creature" to describe her, referring to her as a "revolting creature," thus implying she is some sort of animal, something non-human. This helps characterize Marx: while highly intelligent and increasingly critical of his world, he is still a product of his conditioning and evaluates Linda according to the norms of his society. 

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One example of a metaphor in Brave New World can be found towards the end of Chapter 2.  There, the Director has been showing the students the rooms in which babies are being conditioned through hypnopaediea.  He explains to them how the process works.  He then says (and here the narrator of the book paraphrases) that the repeated phrases the children hear in their sleep are

drops of liquid sealing-wax, drops that adhere, incrust, incorporate themselves with what they fall on, till finally the rock is all one scarlet blob.

There are two metaphors here.  The hypnopaedia lessons are compared to drops of liquid wax while the children’s brains and selves are compared to a rock.  As the wax drops on to the rock, bit by bit, the rock disappears beneath all of the wax.  All that is left, it would appear, is the wax.  This helps us to understand how the process of hypnopaedia works to cover over the children’s minds so that all that is left is what the society wants them to believe.  They have become, to all outward appearances, not themselves (not the rock) but the sum of what they have been taught (the wax covering).

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Let us remind ourselves that a metaphor is an example of figurative language where a direct comparison is asserted between two objects without using the words "like" or "as." You might want to look at Chapter Seven, which describes Lenina and Bernard's trip to the reservation and what they see there, for some examples of metaphors in the way that description is used. Consider the way that the dancers are presented in the following quote:

For suddenly there had swarmed up from those round chambers underground a ghastly troop of monsters. Hideously masked or painted out of all semblance of humanity, they had tramped out a strange limping dance round the square...

Note the way that the dancers are presented as being like "a ghastly troop of monsters." Their masks and their strange movements make them appear to be more inhuman than human, and so the metaphor is used to present them as monsters, emphasising these qualities, rather than thinking about them as humans.

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Brave New World

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