As many a reader is aware, in Shakespeare's Macbeth, "ambition conspires with unholy forces to commit evil deeds" [enotes]; likewise, in Huxley's Brave New World ambition leads to misdeeds that produce evil consequences. And, in this ambition and pursuit of power there is a deflection of guilt and equivocation that leads to the ruination of the characters. This motif of Equivocation and Dissembling is illustrated throughout both Macbeth and Brave New World since Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in their lust for power equivocate and dissemble as does Bernard Marx in his attempt to attain social success and superiority.
- In Macbeth "nothing is what is not"; so, Macbeth invites Duncan to Inverness on the pretext of honoring him and displaying gratitude for his being made Thane of Cawdor. However, his intentions are murderous. In Act I, Scene 4, he tells King Duncan that he is grateful and will do everything "Safe [with regard to] toward your love and honor."
- Macbeth lies about reflecting on the predictions of the three sisters when Banquo tells him in Act II, Scene 1 that he dreamt of them: "I think not of them."
- Lady Macbeth misleads the guests at the banquet at Inverness Castle regarding his odd behavior at seeing Banquo's ghost, explaining in Act III, Scene 4, that he has a condition from youth that is inconsequential: "The fit is momentary; upon a thought/He will again be well."
- In Brave New World, Bernard Marx invites John to join him and Lenina in their return to the New World on the pretext of affording John a way to cure his unhappiness when he really wants to confront the Director with his son.
"I wonder if you'd like to come back to London with us?"...making the first move in a campaign whose strategy he had been secretly elaborating ever since...he had realized who the "father" of this young savage must be. (Ch. 10)
- In Act III, Macbeth and his wife speak of how they must pretend that nothing has happened after Duncan's death,
Let your remembrance apply to Banquo;
Present him eminence, both with eye and tongue:
Unsafe the while, that we
Must lave our honors in these flattering streams,
And make our faces vizards to our hearts,
Disguising what they are. (3.2.33-28)
- After exclaiming "Behold! Look!" to the ghost of Banquo, Macbeth dissembles before his guests at the banquet, telling them that he has "a strange infirmity" (3.4.)
- In Brave New World, Bernard dissembles before John, acting as though he is interested in showing him around when he really exploits the Savage to further his popularity. (Ch. 11)
It was John...they were all after. And as it was only through Bernard, his accredited guardian, that John could be seen, Bernard now found himself, for the first time in his life, treated not mere normally, but as a person of outstanding importance.