Brave New World Questions and Answers
by Aldous Huxley

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What is the purpose of John's citing lines from Romeo and Juliet in chapter nine of Brave New World?

John's citing lines from Romeo and Juliet in chapter nine shows how little he understands the sexual values of Lenina or the World State. Lovesick, he thinks of Lenina as pure and modest, while her culture has conditioned her to be sexually promiscuous. The Romeo and Juliet quote is played for comic and ironic effect to emphasize the disconnect between John and Lenina. It is supposed to be laugh-out-loud funny to regard Lenina as an emblem of purity.

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John quotes from act 3, scene 3 of Romeo and Juliet, in which Romeo has been banished from Verona and is complaining to Friar Laurence that even animals—even flies—will be allowed to touch Juliet, while he will not because he will be so far away. Romeo says of the flies that they

On the white wonder of dear Juliet's hand, may seize
And steal immortal blessing from her lips,
Who, even in pure and vestal modesty,
Still blush, as thinking their own kisses sin.

This quote springs to his mind when John gazes down on Lenina as a fly buzzes around her. He has crept into her rooms while Bernard is away in Santa Fe, and while Lenina is off on a soma-induced drug trip.

John uses these lines because Shakespeare is what he knows and loves, and a Shakespearean cultural context structures his thinking. The lines foreshadow the cultural dissonance between John and the World State, as well as the disconnects that will destroy any chance of John and Lenina having a successfully relationship.

But,...

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