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Huxley and Shakespeare

“Do they read Shakespeare? ” asked the Savage as they walked, on their way to the Bio-chemical Laboratories, past the School Library. “Certainly not,” said the Head Mistress, blushing. In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World”, allusions to William Shakespeare and his works emphasize the contrast between the “”Brave New World”” and the world in Shakespeare’s time and even the current time period. Enhancing the work’s meaning, the allusions and character’s reactions to the allusions reveal the positive and negative aspects of our society today.

The main characters in “Brave New World”, Lenina Crowne, Henry Foster, and Bernard Marx, live in a futuristic world where babies are mass produced in laboratories and raised to perform various functions in society. In order to assure community, stability, and identity, the basis of their world, these functions must be met and solitary amusements are discouraged. Inferring that reading Shakespeare is entertaining, people in the “”Brave New World”” have “feelies” to amuse themselves instead.

To demonstrate the differences between the two worlds, Huxley alludes to Shakespeare’s works which the characters consider distracting and uncivilized. With little knowledge of the past, the characters only have heard vague information about worship of God, respect for Shakespeare, and psychology of Freud. Instead of God, they worship Ford partially because of his T-model and its influence on the future of technology and his existence as the spark for their world. They cannot fathom the events in Shakespeare’s works. For example, in Romeo and Juliet, Capulet and Lady Capulet plan Juliet’s marriage to Paris even though Juliet loves Romeo.

Since the characters in “Brave New World” live in a self-satisfying world where they are promiscuous and rely on drugs like soma and mescal, they cannot relate to Shakespeare. Enhancing the meaning of the work, Huxley chooses Shakespeare–an author and playwright so well-known and influential for many centuries. Shakespeare seems so normal to us, disregarding certain details. Divided into groups including comedies, tragedies, and histories, his works touch on conflicts and romances. They address morals, values, and beliefs of the time. While many of these beliefs still hold true to people today, the world is changing.

People are changing, but are scientific advances causing this change? Aldous Huxley asks his readers this as they concentrate on the descriptions in “Brave New World”. Are science and technology actually harming society instead of helping? Huxley forecasts the future from the experiences in his lifetime. In his writing, he reflects how society today is in between Shakespeare’s time and the “”Brave New World”. ” He shows that society is moving towards the “”Brave New World”” and if readers dislike the society he portrays, then they had better do something to change it by looking at the cause of the problem.

Overall, in his brilliant novel, Aldous Huxley presents the reader with awkward situations and forces them to think about the changing world they live in. The allusions to Shakespeare create a timeline of contrast to support the idea of the changing world. Not only do the allusions help show what the characters believe about their society and society today, but the allusions enhance the overall meaning of the work which forces readers to carefully examine their lives and the lives of people in the future.

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