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

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John, the Savage

Though he does not appear until chapter seven of the novel, John is the protagonist and the symbol of the old world order. The physical description of the Savage reveals the conflict within him; he is dressed like an Indian, but his straw-colored hair, pale blue eyes, and light-colored skin betray his origin. He was born on the Savage Reservation to Linda, who had lived in the new world and been abandoned on the reservation by Tomakin, who does not even know of his existence until John appears in London as an adult. His life on the reservation is miserable, because he is not accepted by the other savages and cannot understand the way of his own mothers; as a result, he is isolated and longs for something better.

Fed on Shakespeare, Linda's description of the brave new world, and his own hyper-active imagination, John the Savage longs to escape the reservation and go to a better life in London; he has visions of everything being perfect there. When he is actually taken to London by Bernard, he is sadly disappointed. He is repulsed by the sterility and rigidity of the new world that is anything but "brave" and "beauteous." He is shocked that the people choose to live a soma-induced life of mediocrity. He is horrified that he is an object of curiosity for the Alphas and Betas, who clamor to see him. The Savage again longs to escape, this time to the peace and solitude of nature, away from the conformist totalitarian society. He finds an isolated lighthouse where he goes to live, but the crowds discover his presence there and will not leave him alone. Unable to find a place for himself anywhere, John the Savage commits suicide.

John becomes a symbol of the primitive pitted against utopia, the old pitted against the new. A product of the old world order where he is not accepted, he still values human emotions, art, literature, and family ties. Unable to accept the cold conformity and promiscuity of the new world, John really has no place. In spite of his frustration and confusion, Huxley uses the Savage as a spokesperson for his own views about art, literature, culture, human relationships, and individualism. Unfortunately, John cannot find a place where he is allowed to express his own views about these things and be heard. It is warning on Huxley's part about the dangers of a brave new world that refuses to acknowledge individualism.

Mustapha Mond, the Controller

Mustapha Mond is the perfect symbol of the brave new world and the Savage's chief antagonist. He is a man of middle-height, with black hair, a hooked nose, full red lips and very piercing dark eyes. Intelligent and learned, Mond has an acute sense of irony and even a certain sense of humor. A physicist by training, he understands and accepts the principles of the new conformist totalitarian society. Although he knows the limits of the brave new world, he accepts them for the benefit of social stability. Mond and the Savage are the only two truly complex characters in the novel, for they know both the old world and new world. Since both of them can read, they have been exposed to outside thoughts, especially those of Shakespeare; both of them find the playwright fascinating. The Savage, however, accepts the human emotions expressed in the Shakespearean plays as worthy, while Mond denies them on the basis of science and world order. Ironically, the Controller also represents Huxley; he expresses the author's view about science and philosophy.

Bernard Marx

Bernard Marx is an important character in the novel and is present from the very beginning until almost the end. Amongst the Alphas of the new world, he is thought to be different because of his small size, caused by an error in his decanting process; unfortunately for him, in this upper caste largeness is valued and smallness is ridiculed. As a result, he has an inferiority complex, which leads him to pose behind a superior air. As a result, he is not popular, his only friend being Helmholtz Watson.

Bernard is individualistic enough to defy some of the rules, though not too blatantly. The Director of the Hatcheries, however, knows of the infractions and threatens to exile him to Iceland. Bernard is, therefore, delighted to discover Linda and John on the Savage Reservation and learn that John is Tomakin's illegitimate son. In order to assure that the Director will not deal unfairly with him, Bernard arranges to take John and Linda back to London with him. When Tomakin again threatens Bernard with exile, he produces the two people from the reservation, totally humiliating the Director.

For a while, Bernard serves as John's guardian and basks in the limelight that he receives from this position. Having a false sense of superiority because of John, he begins to openly criticize some of the things in the brave new world; but he lacks the courage of his convictions and when put to the test, he always fails. In the end, Bernard chooses to leave the mainstream of the brave new world and go with Helmholtz to an isolated rebel island in search of greater individual freedom.

Helmholtz Watson

Helmholtz is mostly distinguished in the novel as Bernard's only friend. He is a powerfully built man, who is deep-chested, broad-shouldered, huge, yet agile; in sharp contrast to Bernard, Huxley says that physically he is "every centimeter an Alpha-plus." Throughout the novel, Helmholtz proves his loyalty to Bernard. Even when Bernard deserts him for awhile, Helmholtz eagerly renews the friendship when Bernard is ready. He sees in Bernard a fellow Alpha who questions the brave new world. In truth, he is much more of a rebel than Bernard. That is why he is finally banished to an island of his choice.

Helmholtz is attracted to the Savage and befriends him. Bernard is clearly jealous of their easy relationship, but Helmholtz is a much more trusting and intelligent individual than Bernard. Because of his knowledge, Helmholtz has no fear of the Controller and even dares to question him, just like the Savage.

Lenina Crowne

Lenina is important in the novel because of the affect that she has on Bernard and the Savage. She has bought into philosophies of the brave new world; although intelligent, she prefers to submit to her conditioning and not cause waves. There are moments of non-conformity in her, but she resolutely curbs such tendencies, preferring to be a silent member of the social stability. When her friend Fanny suggests that she is seeing too much of Foster and is destined to get herself in trouble for it, Lenina heeds the advice and turns her attention to Bernard. She travels with him to the Savage Reservation, where she meets John and is immediately attracted to him.

Since she is a true product of the brave new world, she shuns traditional human emotions and sees sex as only a casual involvement. As a result, she cannot understand why the Savage shows no interest in her physically. Frustrated by the fact that John has not seduced her, she decides she will attack him. Finding him alone in his apartment, she undresses and tries to embrace him. The Savage, who condemns the promiscuity of the brave new world, is horrified at her forwardness and strikes out at her. Later in the novel, when John is being accosted by the crowds at the lighthouse, Lenina comes to try and help him. Misunderstanding her purpose, he is enraged by her presence and whips her. Although John is very attracted to her, he punishes himself for thinking "evil" thoughts about her. The conflict he has over Lenina contributes to his misery that leads to his suicide.


Linda was created in the new world and abandoned in the old, carrying John, her illegitimate son. Because of the duality of her nature, she is more recognizably "human" than most of the other characters of the novel. Created to become a Beta-minus, she is unable to overcome the early years of hypnop'dia and conditioning. When abandoned on the reservation by Tomakin, she is miserable, because she cannot escape the philosophies of her past; therefore, she is ridiculed and used on the reservation because of her promiscuity and lack of emotion. Like her son, she dreams of escaping the reservation and returning to the new world. Her passionate, intense, and sometimes incoherent narration to Bernard and Lenina captures vividly and effectively her plight amongst the Savages. Bernard sees in her the opportunity to "save" himself and gains permission from the Controller to take her back to the new world for scientific study.

When Linda returns to London, life does not improve for her. She is now rejected in the brave new world and ridiculed for her flabbiness and slovenliness, acquired during her long stay on the reservation. Unable to show emotion, she cannot even turn to her son, John, for comfort, even though he longs for a closeness with his mother. As a result, she lives in a soma stupor in order to tolerate her existence. Her overdosing leads to ill health, and she dies an old woman before her time. By the time of her death, she has aroused the reader's sympathy and understanding, probably more than any other character in the novel, for she is clearly a victim of both worlds.

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