Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (1932)
- THOMAS / 'TOMAKIN', 'THE DIRECTOR'
administrator in the year 632AF of the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. The Director runs a futuristic baby-factory where the assembly-line production of genetic castes is streamlined and controlled, and maturing youngsters are brainwashed via neo-Pavlovian conditioning and hypnopaedia ["sleep-learning"] into being happy with their state-allotted roles in life. The Director is an intelligent but orthodox-minded Alpha; he frowns on Bernard's individualism. His manner is charmless, self-important and didactic. The Director is disgraced after a sordid sex-scandal in his past is revealed. It transpires he is father of John the Savage, conceived after he impregnated Linda on a trip to the New Mexico Savage Reservation.
- BERNARD MARX
a sleep-learning specialist at the Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. Bernard is a misfit. He is unusually short for an Alpha; an accident with alcohol in Bernard's blood-surrogate before his decanting has left him slightly stunted. Bernard's independence of mind stems more from his inferiority-complex and depressive nature than any depth of philosophical conviction. Unlike his fellow utopians, Bernard is often angry, resentful and jealous. At times, he is also cowardly and hypocritical. His conditioning is clearly incomplete. He doesn't enjoy communal sports, solidarity services, or promiscuous sex. He doesn't even get much joy out of soma. Bernard is in love with the highly beddable Lenina. He doesn't like her sleeping with other men, though in BNW "everyone belongs to everyone else". Bernard's triumphant return to utopian civilisation with John the Savage from the Reservation precipitates the downfall of the Director, who had been planning to exile him. Bernard's triumph is short-lived. Success goes to his head. Despite his tearful pleas, he is ultimately banished to an Island for his non-conformist behaviour.
- JOHN THE SAVAGE
the illicit son of the Director and Linda. He was born and reared on the Savage Reservation ("Malpais") after Linda was unwittingly left behind by her errant lover. John the Savage is an outsider both on the Reservation - where the ignorant natives still practise marriage, natural birth, family life and religion - and the ostensibly civilised Brave New World: a totalitarian welfare-state based on principles of stability and happiness, albeit happiness of a shallow and insipid nature. The Savage has read nothing but The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. He quotes them extensively and, for the most part, aptly, though his allusion to "Brave New World" [Miranda's words in The Tempest] takes on a darker and bitterly ironic resonance as the novel unfolds. John the Savage is intensely moral. He is also somewhat naïve. In defiance of BNW's social norms, he falls romantically in love with Lenina, but spurns her premature sexual advances. After his mother Linda's death, the Savage becomes ever more disillusioned with utopian society. Its technological wonders and soulless consumerism are no substitute for individual freedom, human dignity and personal integrity. He debates passionately and eruditely with World Controller Mustapha Mond on the competing merits of primitivism versus the World State. After his spontaneous bid to stir revolt among the lower castes has failed, the Savage retreats to an old abandoned lighthouse, whips himself in remorse for his sins, and gloomily cultivates his garden. But he is hounded by reporters and hordes of intrusive brave new worlders. Guilt-ridden, the Savage finally hangs himself after - we are given to infer - he has taken the soma he so despises and succumbed to an orgiastic debauch.
ageing mother of John the Savage. Linda is a Beta-minus left behind for dead after a storm on the Reservation while she was pregnant with the Director's child. Linda had been too ashamed to go back on her own initiative to the Other Place with her illegitimate son; but she misses soma and the comforts of civilisation. She ages and grows fat in the medically primitive conditions of the Reservation. After returning home with Bernard and her now grown-up child to the world she had lost, Linda ends up in Park Lane Hospital for the Dying after overdoing her permanent "soma-holiday". Linda's undignified death leads her son John the Savage to disrupt the "death-conditioning" of a visiting party of Delta clones. The children fail to show his dying mother the respect he feels she deserves. John causes a riot by trying to deprive the Deltas of their soma rations; he has come to view the ideal pleasure-drug as nothing but a poisonous narcotic.
- LENINA CROWNE
a young, beautiful and sexually liberated Beta. Lenina is a popular and promiscuous vaccination-worker at the Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. Somewhat quirky - she normally dates only one person at a time - Lenina is basically happy and well-conditioned. She uses soma to suppress unwelcome emotions. Lenina has a date with Bernard, to whom she feels ambivalently attracted; and she goes to the Reservation with him. On returning with relief to civilisation, she tries and fails to seduce John the Savage. The Savage loves and desires Lenina; but owing to his quixotic nature, he is repelled by her forwardness and the prospect of pre-marital sex. So he casts her aside as an "impudent strumpet".
- MUSTAPHA MOND
Resident World Controller of Western Europe. He presides over one of the ten zones of the World State, the global government set up after the cataclysmic Nine Years' War and great Economic Collapse. Sophisticated and good-natured, His Fordship is an urbane and hyperintelligent apologist for Brave New World and its velvet-gloved totalitarianism. Mond defends BNW's ethos of "Community, Identity, Stability" by comparing his harmonious post-Fordist civilisation with the horrors of the suppressed historical past. In his youth, Mond had himself flirted with doing illicit scientific research and heterodox belief. He still keeps a small library of forbidden books in his safe. Yet he opted for training as a future world leader rather than exile. The Controller argues that art, literature and scientific freedom must be sacrificed in order to secure the ultimate utilitarian goal of maximising societal happiness. He defends the genetic caste system, behavioural conditioning and the lack of personal freedom in the World State as a price worth paying for achieving social stability. Stability is the highest social virtue because it leads to lasting happiness.
- HELMHOLTZ WATSON
handsome and successful Alpha-plus lecturer at the College of Emotional Engineering. Helmholtz is a friend of Bernard. He is restive at the stifling conformism and philistinism of the World State. Not least, he feels unfulfilled writing endless propaganda doggerel. Helmholtz is ultimately exiled to an Island - a cold asylum for disaffected Alpha-plus non-conformists - after reading a heretical poem to his students on the virtues of solitude.
- HENRY FOSTER
a young, cheerful, conventional Alpha male. Henry is a scientist, a statistician, and assistant to the Director at the Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. He is one of Lenina's ex-lovers.
- ASSISTANT PREDESTINATOR
an Alpha employed at the Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. All decisions on creating new humans - whether Alphas, Betas, Deltas, Gammas or Epsilons - are taken by Predestinators: the family and sexual reproduction have been abolished.
- ARCH-COMMUNITY SONGSTER OF CANTERBURY
secular counterpart of an archbishop; traditional religion has been abandoned.
- BENITO HOOVER
happy, hairy, sex-hormone gum-chewing ex-lover of Lenina, a conventional Alpha male.
- DR SHAW
Linda's doctor and supplier of soma.
- FANNY CROWNE
Lenina's friend, a mouthpiece for the values of her caste and society.
- GEORGE EDZEL
an Alpha, ex-lover of Lenina.
- FIFI BRADLAUGH, JOANNA DIESEL, MORGANA ROTHSCHILD, CLARA DETERDING, SAROJINI ENGELS, JIM BOKANOVSKY, HERBERT BAKUNIN and TOM KAWAGUCHI
members of Bernard's Solidarity Group. In BNW, Solidarity Services typically culminate in a soma-driven orgy.
- MISS KEATE
Headmistress of Eton.
an Alpha, the Warden is the talkative chief administrator of the New Mexico Savage Reservation.
Linda's lover on the Reservation.
Indian elder on the Reservation who teaches John pottery.
girl from a pueblo on the Reservation.
- DARWIN BONAPARTE
Entertainment industry celebrity and big-game hunter famous for capturing a gorilla's wedding on film. Bonaparte's violation of the John the Savage's temporary sanctuary leads to an invasion of prying tourists. The intrusive visitors throw peanuts to the Savage "as if to an Ape". The Savage regresses to the posture of an animal "at bay"; takes soma to escape his tormentors; and awakes in the morning, mortified. The Savage chooses to take his own life as the only dignified exit after the shame of what he has done.
The Search for Soma
Aldous Huxley's Island
Aldous Huxley Photogallery
Brave New World Study Aid
Aldous Huxley: Bibliography
MDMA: Utopian Pharmacology
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Critique of Huxley's Brave New World
Aldous Huxley's Brave New World Revisited
"Soma" in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World
Brave New World (movie; 1980 BBC TV adaptation)
"There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution."