Brave New World Chapter 11 Summary and Analysis

Aldous Huxley

Chapter 11 Summary and Analysis

Chapter 11 Summary

Following the events of the previous chapter, the Director resigns, and John becomes a source of fascination for the upper caste elites. Linda, on the other hand, is treated like a monster and goes on a permanent soma holiday, which the doctor expects to kill her in a couple months. Realizing this, John protests, but is forced to accept it. He has, quite suddenly, become popular, and so has Bernard, who enjoys the fame of being guardian to "the Savage," as John is called. Bernard likes the attention and particularly likes the girls. He boasts about this to Helmholtz, whom he expects to be happy for him. Instead, Helmholtz expresses sadness for him, and Bernard vows to end the friendship. This will only be temporary, of course.

Bernard decides to introduce John to the civilized world. He throws parties, invites other people over to see him, and gives him a tour of London from a helicopter. Mustapha Mond doesn't like this sudden turn of events and even considers teaching Bernard a lesson, but decides against it. John, unimpressed by civilization and disappointed that no one seems to have read Shakespeare, grows despondent—that is, until he starts seeing Lenina, who has become a celebrity herself, by association. Together, they see a "feely" called Three Weeks in a Helicopter, about a black man who kidnaps a blonde woman and keeps her in his helicopter for—you guessed it—three weeks. Despite being enthralled by the physical sensations of the feely, John finds the movie base, even going so far as to tell Lenina she shouldn't watch it. When he doesn't come upstairs with her, she gets upset and has to take a gramme and a half of soma.

Chapter 11 Analysis

Allusions

Lucrezia Aguiari (1743 - 1783). An Italian coloratura soprano who had a vocal range spanning about three and a half octaves. In a letter, Leopold Mozart (father of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) expressed his astonishment and admiration for Aguiari, who had hit a seemingly impossible note: the C soprano acuto, an octave above the high C. Huxley alludes to Aguiari to show that synthetic music has reached dizzyingly virtuosic heights.

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare. One of Shakespeare's more famous plays, The Merchant of Venice features the character Shylock, a moneylender who delivers the famous speech "Hath not a Jew eyes?" John thinks of the play in the Television Corporation's factory, where he sees boxes full of the day's soma rations. He asks, "What's in those...those caskets?" remembering how Portia, a character in the play, forced all her suitors to play a game where they picked one of three caskets in hopes of winning her heart.

Leopold Mozart (1719 - 1787). A German composer and conductor in his own right, Leopold was the father of the more famous Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791), who's widely considered one of the best composers to have ever lived. Mozart was in the audience when Lucrezia Aguiari hit the incredible C note that no other singer has ever achieved.

Othello by William Shakespeare. This is another of Shakespeare's famous plays. Its title character is a Moor (a black man) who is manipulated into killing his wife, Desdemona. John is reminded of Othello by the black man in the feely that he and Lenina see. The film's plot (of a black man forgetting himself and hurting a woman that he loves) is vaguely reminiscent of Othello's, but has no real direct parallels, beyond the main character's skin color.

The Tempest by William Shakespeare. Huxley makes two separate allusions to The Tempest: the first, when John, unimpressed with the speed of the Bombay Green Rocket, murmurs that Ariel, the magical spirit from the Shakespeare play, "could put a girdle round the earth in forty minutes," and the second when John looks at the clones and quotes the lines: "O brave new world,/ That has such people in ’t!" (V.1.87-88) This is the source of the novel's title.

Foreshadowing

This chapter foreshadows two major events: Linda's eventual death from soma and the "lesson" that Mustapha Mond teaches Bernard by sending him to Iceland at the end of the novel.

Themes

Death. It's telling that death hasn't been a major theme until now, almost two-thirds of the way into the book. In Chapter 5, Part 1, the fact of death was briefly touched upon when Henry and Lenina flew over the Crematorium on their way to the concert. However, the thought of dying one day didn't weigh on the characters as one would it expect to. This, as we'll discover, is due to the fact that everyone has been conditioned not to fear death and that this is one of the things that ensures social stability.

Fame. Hand in hand with the theme of isolation is the theme of popularity or of fame, the lack of which led Bernard to feel isolated in the first half of the novel. Now that he's famous, however, and can use his association with John to earn himself favor amongst the upper caste elite, Bernard doesn't feel isolated at all and rather enjoys being part of the social body as a whole. This will make it all the more difficult for him when he's finally exiled.