Brave New World

Shakespeare Symbol Analysis

Shakespeare Symbol Icon

In Brave New World, Shakespeare represents two things. First, he symbolizes the art that has been rejected and destroyed by the World State in the interest of maintaining stability. Second, the powerful emotion, passion, love, and beauty on display in Shakespeare's plays stand for all the noble aspects of humanity that have been sacrificed by the World State in its effort to make sure its citizens are always happy and therefore productive. The character who quotes Shakespeare most is John (the Savage), who is given a copy of Shakespeare’s plays while living on the Savage Reservation; his speech and outlook are accordingly shaped by the language and emotional passion found in Shakespeare. Hence, “brave new world,” a phrase taken from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, becomes John’s awestruck, albeit increasingly disillusioned, epithet for the World State as well as the title of Huxley’s novel. Mustapha Mond has also read and enjoyed Shakespeare, but believes that such beautiful, old literature is useless and even destructive for happy, stable citizens, so he suppresses it.

Shakespeare Quotes in Brave New World

The Brave New World quotes below all refer to the symbol of Shakespeare. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer 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, Lenina Crowne
Related Symbols: Shakespeare
Page Number: 139
Explanation and Analysis:
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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:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Chapter 16 Quotes

You've got to choose between happiness and what people used to call high art.

Related Characters: Mustapha Mond (speaker), John (the Savage)
Related Symbols: Shakespeare
Page Number: 220
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Chapter 17 Quotes

"In fact,” said Mustapha Mond, “you're claiming the right to be unhappy.”

“All right then,” said the Savage defiantly, “I'm claiming the right to be unhappy.”

Related Characters: John (the Savage) (speaker), Mustapha Mond (speaker)
Related Symbols: Shakespeare
Page Number: 240
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Shakespeare Symbol Timeline in Brave New World

The timeline below shows where the symbol Shakespeare appears in Brave New World. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
...and Lenina meet a pale-skinned, blue-eyed young man in Indian dress. He says in peculiar (Shakespearean) English that he wishes he were the one who had been whipped—for the sake of... (full context)
Chapter 8
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
...her work in the Hatcheries. Popé brings him a book, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, and John becomes obsessed with the magic of the words. Inspired by Hamlet, he tries... (full context)
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
...disgust that the Director will be even more embarrassed. At this news, John exultantly quotes Shakespeare’s The Tempest: “O brave new world that has such people in it.” Bernard suggests that... (full context)
Chapter 11
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
...a film about Indian religious rituals. He also learns that World State children never read Shakespeare and that they’re conditioned to accept death as something unremarkable and painless. (full context)
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Technology and Control Theme Icon
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
...her apartment with her, John bids Lenina a restrained goodnight and goes home. John reads Shakespeare’s Othello to calm himself, and Lenina takes soma to console herself. (full context)
Chapter 12
Individuality Theme Icon
...ends up leaving with the Songster, while a weeping Bernard takes soma and John reads Shakespeare. (full context)
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
...jealousy. When Helmholtz recites his rhymes to the Savage, the Savage reads him lines of Shakespeare in return, and Helmholtz is filled with new emotion. Bernard mocks the verses as “orgy-porgy,”... (full context)
Chapter 13
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
...stop her from embracing John, and they kiss. When she begins undressing, though, answering his Shakespeare quotes with a pop song called, “Hug me till you drug me,” he retreats against... (full context)
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Technology and Control Theme Icon
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
...slap with which John propelled her there. He paces up and down the room, reciting Shakespeare. He gives Lenina her clothes through the vent over the door, but before Lenina can... (full context)
Chapter 16
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Technology and Control Theme Icon
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
...all, addressing John. When John admits that he doesn’t much like civilization, Mond unexpectedly quotes Shakespeare. He explains that as the one who makes the laws, he’s allowed to break them,... (full context)
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Technology and Control Theme Icon
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
Mond further explains that, today, nobody could understand a tragedy like Shakespeare’s Othello, because the world is stable—people get what they want, they never want what they... (full context)