What does John's quote "eternity was in our lips and eyes" mean in Brave New World?

Quick answer:

John's quote in Brave New World that “eternity was in our lips and eyes” comes from Shakespeare’s play Antony and Cleopatra. John says this after his mother, Linda, begins to continually increase her dose of soma. Her doctor explains that, while Linda is shortening her life as a result as a result, each of her moments feels like “an eternity.” In quoting this line in response to the doctor, John shows his understanding that eternity depends on perception and is understood differently by everyone, especially in the novel’s strange society.

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In addition to expanding John's perception of eternity, this moment represents a unique connection for the displaced character in modern society.

At the beginning of chapter 11, Linda takes comfort in continuously digesting soma and experiencing its tranquil effects as she becomes completely oblivious to the world around her. Against the doctor's advice, Linda begins taking higher doses of the drug and digests up to twenty grams a day, which will eventually kill her in a relatively short period of time.

When John the Savage raises doubts about his mother's health, Dr. Shaw explains to him that although they are shortening her lifespan, each soma experience seems to last an eternity. John, who is completely out of place in Fordian society, immediately associates the word eternity with a line from Shakespeare's classic play Antony and Cleopatra. John responds to Dr. Shaw's comment by murmuring, "Eternity was in our lips and eyes."

John continually quotes Shakespeare throughout the novel while analyzing the modern world, which helps him make sense of the strange, foreign culture. By quoting Cleopatra, John is making a connection between his concept of eternity and Fordian society's view of eternity. John is recognizing that eternity is not an absolute concept and relies upon one's personal experience and perception. In Fordian society, eternity is not a defined period of time—and he is realizing that the concept depends on one's perception, which is in their "lips and eyes."

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