Free Study Guide: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley - Free BookNotes

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BRAVE NEW WORLD: FREE LITERARY CRITICISM / ANALYSIS

CHAPTER 12

Summary

As anticipated, Bernard's good fortune does not last. One evening when he invites the Arch-Community Songster of Canterbury, along with some others, to meet the Savage, John refuses to oblige; he locks himself up in his room and refuses to emerge. He lapses into his native speech to express his anger. Bernard's guests are openly furious and scornful about the turn of events; however, they are maliciously gleeful to see Bernard so uncomfortable. Lenina, who had hoped to confess her attraction to John, is especially upset by his behavior and wonders if he is avoiding her specifically. When the guests depart, Bernard is more shaken, uncertain, and isolated than ever before.

Bernard has mixed feelings of anger and affection for the Savage and sometimes seeks to hurt him. He also has mixed emotions for Helmholtz. When he was glorying in the attention created by John, Bernard totally ignored his old friend. Now that he is no longer in the limelight, Bernard again turns to Helmholtz, who is ready once again to befriend him with no thought of personal gain. Such generosity shames Bernard, perversely annoying him. He is also annoyed at the ease with which the Savage and Helmholtz enter into a friendship. The two of them have a common bond in Shakespeare, which irritates Bernard; he never misses an opportunity to ridicule them about their affection for literature. Helmholtz, however, is never able to understand or appreciate John's emotional rendering of Romeo and Juliet; he even laughs at the Savage for his sensitivity to the play.

The Controller is seen in a new role in this chapter, as the chief censor and major guardian of Utopia. He rejects any attempt to publish theories on life that might upset the new world's careful conditioning. When he is given a new treatise to read, he appreciates its content but fears its novelty could endanger the artificially induced social stability of the new order; therefore, he plans to move the writer to a distant location. Too much knowledge is simply too dangerous.

Notes

Additional negative aspects of the new world are brought to light in this chapter. Like the old world that they wanted to escape, this new order is filled with petty rivalries and insincere relationships. Without any scruples, the alpha community turns against Bernard and makes him realize that he has been tolerated only for his possession of the novelty of the Savage. Bernard himself vacillates in his friendship for Helmholtz, ignoring him when he is in the limelight and turning to him when he feels lonely and isolated. Bernard even has mixed feelings for the Savage, caring for him one moment and despising him the next. He is particularly jealous of the easy friendship that develops between John and Helmholtz. Huxley, of course, is satirizing the upper class of his own society, exposing the pettiness beneath the polish.

Lenina continues to be miserable; she simply cannot understand John's attitude about sex and longs to have a relationship with him. John also continues to suffer in the new word. He is tired of being on display and one night refuses to emerge from his room when Bernard brings visitors to meet him. Bernard becomes the laughing stock of the upper crust and falls out of favor. The Controller is the only one in the chapter to be painted in a more positive light. Although he rejects a new treatise given to him for review, he comes across as a rather enlightened dictator; he is aware of the value of what he is rejecting but does so to preserve what he believes to be the common good.

The chapter is a face-paced one creating a montage filled with different voices and action. Each character and event, however, delivers the same underlying message: utopian existence is far from perfect.


CHAPTER 13

Summary

Lenina, obsessed with attracting John, is a classic picture of longing for the inaccessible. She grows absent-minded at work and refuses other dates. Fanny strongly advises her to go "take" John and get him out of her system. Following her friend's advice, Lenina surprises John alone at home. He tells her of his love for her and his chivalrous desire to exhibit proof of this love through some noble act. Lenina cannot understand what he means; neither does she understand his talk of marriage. To her, "love" means only one thing; therefore, she undresses herself and attempts to embrace John. Furious at this "whorish" behavior, he is almost demented in his disillusioned anger. In resisting her advance, he even physically hurts her. Lenina manages to escape into the bathroom, from where she recovers her clothes. Before Lenina can escape from John's apartment, there is a telephone call. He is told that his mother is seriously ill. John rushes out of the apartment with no thought of Lenina. She soon follows him out.

Notes

This chapter is really a seduction scene that goes awry. Following her friend Fanny's advice, Lenina goes to John's apartment with the sole purpose of "taking" him. Encouraged by his words of love that she does not really understand, Lenina undresses and tries to embrace John. The Savage is horrified to the point of irrationality. To him love means fidelity and marriage; in contrast, lust is vulgar and evil, as emphasized in Shakespeare. John speaks lines about chastity from his favorite author, while Lenina counters it with Utopian doggerel. Both are victims of their respective conditioning, and there seems no meeting-point between them even though they both care for the other.

Both of their reactions are surprising. Lenina reveals more emotion than expected and certainly more than is allowed in Utopia. John's reactions are uncharacteristically violent. Having witnessed Linda's promiscuity first hand, he seems overly shocked at Lenina's behavior. Perhaps, it is the memory of his mother's lust that whips up his anger.

John is literally rescued by a telephone call about the condition of his mother. When he hears that she is seriously ill, he rushes out of the apartment without one further thought of Lenina. The chapter, therefore, begins and ends with the demands of a woman. At first, it is Lenina demanding a sexual relationship with John; it ends with the demands of an ill and dying mother. Ironically, John responds negatively to the demands of Lenina and positively to the demands of Linda, proving that he rejects the values of the new world that he came to embrace and accepts the values of the old world from which he tried to flee. In fact, he is so repulsed by the new that he strikes out physically and violently against Lenina, a symbol of the brave new world.


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