In the aftermath of their first day on the reservation, Lenina and Bernard get some much needed rest. Lenina goes on a soma holiday, and Bernard makes the arrangements for John’s return to the civilized world. While Lenina is sleeping, John sneaks into her adjoining room and paws through the contents of her suitcase. Hearing a noise, he freezes, afraid that he’ll be caught. Afterward, he creeps to Lenina’s room to watch her sleep and admire her beauty. He quotes from Shakespeare’s plays Romeo and Juliet and Troilus and Cressida to express his love for Lenina. John then hurries outside to meet Bernard, who has just returned from making the arrangements.
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. John quotes a passage from Shakespeare’s great tragedy about two star-crossed lovers who meet a tragic end. This passage reads as follows:
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. (act 3, scene 3, lines 36–39)
Note that this passage is as much about beauty as modesty and that Juliet is being praised for her chastity. This indicates that John has misunderstood Lenina and failed to realize that she has been conditioned to practice an extreme form of sexual freedom. Unsurprisingly, this will upset him in later chapters of the novel.
Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare. John quotes a passage from Shakespeare’s tragic play about the titular lovers, a Trojan prince and a woman whose father is a seer. During the Trojan War, Cressida is sent to the Greeks and begins flirting with the Greek warrior Diomedes. Troilus sneaks into the Greek camps to see her, only to find that she has betrayed their love. In the end, their relationship is destroyed, and the play ends on a bleak note.
John quotes a passage from act 1, before everything went wrong. It reads:
Her eyes, her hair, her cheek, her gait, her voice;
Handlest in thy discourse O! that her hand,
In whose comparison all whites are ink
Writing their own reproach; to whose soft seizure
The cygnet’s down is harsh. . . . (act 1, scene 1, lines 84–88)
It’s worth noting that John has quoted from two plays that feature doomed loves. Perhaps without realizing it, he has suggested that his love of Lenina is doomed and that she will be faithless, like Cressida. Time will prove this to be true.
John’s ability to break Lenina’s window without giving it a second thought foreshadows his later penchant for violence and irrational behavior. His love of Lenina will prove volatile at best.
Love. In a world where everyone belongs to everyone, the very thought of love is foreign, and there are no committed relationships. Having read all of Shakespeare’s works, John thinks he understands love and believes that the infatuation he feels for Lenina is real, even though it most likely stems from the fact that he has never met a beautiful white woman before. It’s also likely that John has never considered a Native American beautiful, which would make his sudden “love” of Lenina as racist as it is naive. In part because it’s based on a misconception of Lenina and in part because it may well be John’s first love, he is incapable of acting in a mature fashion. His behavior is intense and bizarre and foreshadows the violence of his later actions.