Brave New World

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Helmholtz Watson Character Analysis

Helmholtz is the opposite of Bernard: he is the perfect embodiment of an Alpha male. But just as Bernard's imperfections make him an individual, Helmholtz's perfection makes him individual. Everything in life comes so easily to Helmholtz—from women, to physical prowess, to professional achievement—that he comes to believe there is more to life. In looking for ways to challenge himself, he realizes the limitations that the World State imposes on its citizens. Unlike Bernard, who often seems to be compensating for his insecurities, Helmholtz is generous, kind, and fun-loving.

Helmholtz Watson Quotes in Brave New World

The Brave New World quotes below are all either spoken by Helmholtz Watson or refer to Helmholtz Watson. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harper Perennial edition of Brave New World published in 2006.
Chapter 8 Quotes
"O brave new world," he repeated. "O brave new world that has such people in it. Let's start at once."
Related Characters: John (the Savage) (speaker), Bernard Marx, Helmholtz Watson, Lenina Crowne
Related Symbols: Shakespeare
Page Number: 139
Explanation and Analysis:

Bernard and Lenina have travelled to the Savage Reservation, where they have witnessed a man be whipped and met John, a white man dressed as a savage. John has told Bernard what he can remember of his life story, and Bernard promises to take John and his mother, Linda, back with him to the World State. When Bernard tells John he is not married to Lenina, John joyfully exclaims, "O brave new world that has such people in it," a line from Shakespeare's play The Tempest. Because he has been raised on the Savage Reservation, John's only knowledge of the outside world comes through the works of Shakespeare, and it is fitting that he quotes from The Tempest, a play that explores the themes of exploration, colonization, and civilization.

John's love for Lenina and excitement at his initial impressions of the World State highlight the superficial appeal of the society depicted in the novel. However, as Bernard points out when he responds that John should wait to see the "brave new world" before he gets too excited, beneath this superficial appeal lies a dystopian reality. Indeed, it will take the perspective of John––an outsider––to expose the "brave new world" for what it really is. 

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Chapter 12 Quotes
Why was [Shakespeare] such a marvellous propaganda technician? Because he had so many insane, excruciating things to get excited about. You've got to be hurt and upset; otherwise you can't think of the really good, penetrating X-rayish phrases.
Related Characters: Helmholtz Watson (speaker)
Related Symbols: Shakespeare
Page Number: 185
Explanation and Analysis:

Bernard has unsuccessfully tried to throw a party to show off John the Savage, but John refused to leave his room and appear at the event. Meanwhile, Helmholtz's students have reported him to the government for writing a poem about being alone. In this passage, during the party, John and Helmholtz discuss Shakespeare; at first, Helmholtz is unable to get over how ridiculous he finds Romeo and Juliet, but then undergoes a moment of realization during which his evaluation of the play changes. While it seems strange to Helmholtz for anyone to be as "hurt and upset" as the characters in Romeo and Juliet, he begins to trace the connection between these painful feelings and the existence of great works of art. Indeed, he realizes, if people remain in a state of constance satisfaction and emotional satiety, they cannot create anything of real value. 

Note that even as Helmholtz arrives at this subversive realization, he cannot help but frame it in terms particular to his conditioned mindset; Shakespeare is not a playwright but a "propaganda technician," and his writing is not insightful but "X-rayish." Huxley once again explores the boundary of just how far human thought can be controlled, and to what extent people are able to remain critical of the world into which they are born. 

Chapter 15 Quotes
"Free, free!" the Savage shouted, and with one hand continued to throw the soma into the area while, with the other, he punched the indistinguishable faces of his assailants. "Free!" And suddenly there was Helmholtz at his side–"Good old Helmholtz!"—also punching—"Men at last!"—and in the interval also throwing the poison out by handfuls through the open window. "Yes, men! men!" and there was no more poison left. He picked up the cash-box and showed them its black emptiness. "You're free!"
Howling, the Deltas charged with a redoubled fury.
Related Characters: John (the Savage) (speaker), Helmholtz Watson
Page Number: 213
Explanation and Analysis:

John the Savage's mother, Linda, has died, and the Savage is distraught. At the hospital where he had come to see his mother, the Savage has encountered Delta twins being given soma. Convinced that soma caused his mother's death (his mother, on returning from the reservation, did just basically drug herself into a constant stupor), the Savage shouts at the Deltas not to take the soma, and throws the drug out of the window. This causes a riot, and when Helmholtz arrives, he and the Savage fight off the enraged Deltas, all while gleefully exclaiming that they are finally "free" and "men at last." Once again, the Savage's actions call into question the binary between civilized and uncivilized behavior. While physically attacking others at random would conventionally be considered a wild, animalistic act, in this case it makes the Savage and Helmholtz "men." 

The implication of this is that what truly makes a person human is the possession of free will and individual identity. Although Helmholtz and the Savage are engaging in a riot, at least they are doing so through their own agency, rebelling against the conditioning and expectations of the World State. Similarly, they claim that discarding the soma makes the Deltas "free," meaning free from the paralyzing grip of addiction. However, as the Delta's "redoubled fury" shows, the World State's conditioning is so powerful that not all people embrace this "freedom" with the same enthusiasm as Helmholtz and the Savage. 

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Helmholtz Watson Character Timeline in Brave New World

The timeline below shows where the character Helmholtz Watson appears in Brave New World. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
Individuality Theme Icon
Bernard flies off to see his friend Helmholtz Watson. Helmholtz is the perfect Alpha-plus. He's stellar at his job, desired by women, and... (full context)
Individuality Theme Icon
Helmholtz and Bernard discuss the dilemma of their individuality (though Bernard doesn't mention his jealousy of... (full context)
Chapter 6
Individuality Theme Icon
...by an electric fence so no one can escape. Just before they enter, Bernard calls Helmholtz, and learns to his horror and astonishment that the Director actually is planning to transfer... (full context)
Chapter 11
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Technology and Control Theme Icon
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
...him popular and important. He takes full advantage, sleeping with many women. He also thinks Helmholtz is jealous, when really Helmholtz is dismayed because behind Bernard's back, the people being friendly... (full context)
Chapter 12
Individuality Theme Icon
...party, Bernard goes back to being his old self: nervous, alone, melancholy. The Savage and Helmholtz accept his apologies (Bernard is a little jealous that they can be so forgiving). Meanwhile,... (full context)
Technology and Control Theme Icon
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
Helmholtz and the Savage like each other immensely, and Helmholtz is mesmerized by Shakespeare. Romeo and... (full context)
Chapter 15
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
Bernard and Helmholtz get a phone call telling them what the Savage is doing. They hurry to the... (full context)
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Technology and Control Theme Icon
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
...arrive, they spray soma vapor into the air to quiet the Deltas. The police take Helmholtz and the Savage into custody. Bernard tries to slip away, but the police take him... (full context)
Chapter 16
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Technology and Control Theme Icon
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
Helmholtz, John, and Bernard are brought to Mustapha Mond's study. Helmholtz is cheerful. Bernard is nervous... (full context)
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
...people who are too individual to be satisfied with life in the World State live. Helmholtz wonders why Mond didn't go to an island. Mond says he chose to become a... (full context)
Individuality Theme Icon
Mond asks Helmholtz what sort of island he'd like to live on. Helmholtz decides on an island with... (full context)
Chapter 18
Individuality Theme Icon
Helmholtz and Bernard return. Mond is gone. They hear the Savage retching in the bathroom. He... (full context)