An Archetypal Perspective of Brave New World

Ali Mozaffaripour        ENG 4UV

Brave New World, a story about a utopia (dystopia) called World State, taking place in a futuristic society where people are grown as nearly identical embryos in bottles. People are conditioned to take away any strong desires, passions, and the need for long-drawn human relationships. Citizens are “happy” and take a drug called Soma to send them into “holidays”, consume a lot of goods and have sex with one another. There are five social classes: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Epsilons (based mainly on intelligence). Bernard, an Alpha Plus (highest class) and Lenina (second highest class) take a vacation to the Savage Reservation, an area isolated from the rest of the world. Inhabited by native people living in primitive conditions, Bernard and Lenina meet John, a man raised at the Reservation by his mother Linda, who was abandoned at the reservation by the World State Director on a trip similar to Bernard and Lenina’s. Bernard takes John and Linda back to World State and the remainder of the story is about John and the struggles he has fighting against the restrictions on the people of World State to experience true happiness.

As stated by Carl Jung, archetypes are “primitive mental images inherited from the earliest human ancestors” (McLeod). There are common basic characters, symbols, and journeys shared in all types of literature, seen novel after novel and they all are parts of core human instincts. Over the past week of summer school, I have read my CCT book, and in this blog, I will be explaining the archetypal roles that characters fit in as well as some major archetype symbols and situations.


Characters and their Archetypal Roles


John the Savage

John fits three archetypal roles, the Outcast, the Rebel, and the Seeker. The Outcast is defined as a character who is “banished from a community for some crime (real or imagined)” (Archetype). John is a miserable man who has been shunned by his tribe and companions because of his differences. As an outcast, the Indians treat him poorly. “‘Not for the son of the she-dog, […] go!'” (Huxley 148) shout the men of his tribe who shun him. “One of them bent down, took a stone, threw it. There was a shower of stones. Bleeding, he ran away into the darkness. […] He was all alone” (148). The tribe men exclude John from rituals and ceremonies, and he has no choice but to perform the ritual on his own. He is desperate to escape the Savage Reserve, a place where a tribe has been separated from the civilized world, living in primitive conditions and still follow faiths such as Christianity (religion is considered dead in World State). At this point, John fits as the archetypal role as the Seeker defined as a person who “searches for truth” (Golden). He is eager to escape and find a place where he thinks he belongs. With the offer of Bernard to leave for World State, he replies “O brave new world. Let’s start at once” (152). He jumps on the opportunity to leave with Bernard and hopefully live a better life.

John the Savage
John the Savage. This image illustrates his love of literature (Shakespeare), his physical features, and his background as a Savage (eagle).

His time at World State is a let down for John as he discovers that with his values, he cannot fit into World State. Citizens are manufactured and conditioned to find value in sex and soma. The citizens of World State don’t understand John’s reasoning, so, he is left completely alone. Rejected from both the Savage Reservation and World State, John once again fits the archetypal role as the Outcast.

The Rebel archetype is “known for breaking convention” (Barlow). This means that they don’t follow the rules and work against them. John fits this archetype when a tragic event happens to his mother, Linda, who consumes too much Soma. “Linda was dead. The Savage stood for a moment in frozen silence, then fell on his knees beside the bed [and] sobbed uncontrollably. […] In the chaos of grief and remorse that filled his mind [only one word came to his mind]. ‘God!'” (229). As she dies on the hospital bed, John is filled with sorrow. It’s natural for someone to feel sorrow over the death of a loved one; however, a twin replies “Whatever is he saying?” (229) as if though this is nothing important. These twins are conditioned to take death as a matter of course and not feel remorse. Once John understands that he has natural instincts that the people of World State do not, he decides to rebel to release the people from the structures and controls of World State. For this reason, John fits into the archetypal role of the Rebel (Barlow). “He picked up the cash-box and showed them its black emptiness [of soma]. ‘You’re free!’ Howling, the Deltas charged with fury” (237). His attempt to free the people fails, only causing an uproar among the less intelligent Deltas for disrespecting Soma. Knowing that his rebellion fails, he has no choice but to leave World State.

His inability to associate with a group leads him to occupies himself in the world of Shakespeare and his literature. Perhaps he becomes too occupied as he becomes a tragic hero, similar to the many characters of Shakespeare. He commits suicide to relieve himself from a world he can’t fit in. John’s mindset is similar to that of mine (as a reader), allowing me to more easily relate to him as a character.


Lenina Crowne

lenina_crowne
Lenina Crowne

Lenina can be categorized into two possible archetypal roles, the Innocent and the Seductress. One method that World State controls the minds of people is through hypnopaedia (teaching by listening to someone while asleep). “Sleep-teaching” is used to change the mentality of people to discourage monogamy (the practice of being married to one person at a time) and instead people are taught that “every one belongs to every one else” (50). Bernard, a hypnopaedia specialist, informs Lenina that she is being manipulated as she heard that statement “one hundred [times] three nights a week for four years, […] sixty-two thousand four hundred repetitions make one truth” (50). This “one truth” is the fact that having sex with everyone possible is okay. As a female, Lenina is a Seductress, defined as a “female fatale […] and is manipulative” (Melissa). Lenina uses her beautiful physical appearance seduces others and has sex with them.

Although these actions can be considered odd, the book illustrates the different values and morals that people have in a “utopia” that maintains social stability and the values of normal human life from the perspective of the reader. Bernard explains the deep reality of the people of World State, who are “adults intellectually and during working hours, [but] infants where feeling and desire are concerned” (99). This explains Lenina perfectly as she is conditioned to work for the benefit of society and then the rest of her life is to be a consumer of products, “have other people” and taking Soma. For these reasons, Lenina fits the archetypal role as Innocent, who is “often a woman or child [and] are pure in every way” (Golden). Even though from my perspective her actions are demeaning, she is, in fact, innocent for her actions, because in her mentality, she is doing nothing wrong.


Bernard Marx

 

bernard_marx_by_lukadron-d4n1bdu.png
Bernard Marx

Bernard also fits two archetypal roles, being the Outcast, and the Coward. Though to a lesser extent than John, the discrimination against Bernard is due to his physical deformities. Rumours say that John had alcohol spilled into his blood-surrogate in the midst of his decanting (production) and the result is that he has a weaker and less attractive body compared to others in his social class. His lack of physique is traded for a greater mind, one which understands that there is more to life than the simple superficial pleasures that people enjoy. “I’d rather be myself, myself and nasty. Not somebody else, however jolly” (94). He avoids soma to be himself and to live a pure life. Like John, but for different reasons, he wants to find meaning in life and understand himself better. People normally ignore and don’t bother to find any meaning, and for this reason, along with his physical differences, he is hated by some and avoided by others, making him an outcast from World State.

The Coward is defined as “one who lacks courage or is shamefully afraid” (Ure). Originally, I thought that Bernard is a character who I could relate to, but then later figure out that even though he hates the norm of World State, he would prefer to fit in it over having the true courage to pursue his beliefs. For this reason, he also falls into the archetype of the Coward. The Director of the Hatchery and Conditioning Centre doesn’t like Bernard and decides to fire him and send him to Iceland. Bernard replies, “Oh, please don’t send me to Iceland. I promise I’ll do what I ought to do. Give me another chance. […] I tell you it’s their fault,” (252).  Bernard cracks under the pressure of being sent to Iceland, as he still grasps the idea of wanting to fit in and would sabotage his friends (John and Helmholtz) to remain if he could. This is silly of him because he doesn’t want to leave the society that treated him so poorly.


Archetypal Symbols and Situations


Dystopian Archetype – Divided Population

A recurring plot device in Brave New World, as well as most dystopian literature, is the division of citizens. Dystopian stories are basically socio-political narratives, so it is expected that World State has a population structure and uses it to control the people (Kopievsky). Therefore, for a story like Brave New World, these structures and controls are very important to the story.

The ‘Divided Population’ archetype exists in Brave New World because of the philosophy of Self vs Others from a sociology or psychology viewpoint. This means that certain characters, such as Bernard and John have gained a mentality that is different from others. This mentality leads to “extreme separation, alienation, and exclusion of the person that is seen as different or unusual to the typical lens of one’s societal views” (Wikipedia). It is because of this exact mentality that Bernard and John do not fit into their societies and are excluded from some activities.

brave_new_world_social_classes_by_qbark-d4ujz5s.png
The division of the social classes (castes) of World State. From left to right (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon).

This also applies to the different social classes of World State, where the divide is biological. People are ‘hatched’ into the different classes and based on their social destiny, they are conditioned differently. The class determines the tasks specific to people (the lowest class does the hard, physical work and the highest class controls and conditions the lower classes). This hierarchy used by World State is their method to follow one of their motto’s, stability.


Good vs Evil

“Good vs Evil” is an archetype that is present in so many different types of books, movies, media, and much more (Kauffman). The concept of the “Good vs Evil” archetype exists in Brave New World. John represents the force of good against the evil which is World State. To be more specific the main evil force could be directly applied to Mustapha Mond, one of the ten world controllers, who has a major influence on how World State functions. Mustapha Mond represents all aspects of World State, some of which include the lack of families, the controlling of society to impulsively consume, have sex whenever possible, and take Soma when unhappy, as well as limit the topics that people can write about. The sad reality that Huxley tries to get through about Soma is that it restricts people from experiencing true emotions, and instead, they take satisfaction in a short-lived happiness. John is the exact opposite, he really values literature, from his obsessive love of Shakespeare, his desire to find his one true love and to live a free life with family and those he has close relationships with. As I mentioned before, John tries to release the people of World State so that they too can understand what it means to be free and understand true emotions. Unfortunately, evil succeeds, as Mustapha Mond stops John before he makes any big impact.

good_vs_evil_by_amvenom
A visual representation of the contrast between Good and Evil

 

Works Cited

Barlow, Susanna. “Understanding the Rebel Archetype.” Susanna Barlow, 15 Jan. 2017, susannabarlow.com/on-archetypes/understanding-the-rebel-archetype/.

“Discover the Outsider Archetype.” Archetypes, 21 Jan. 2015, http://www.archetypes.com/discover-outsider-archetype/.

Golden, Carl. “The 12 Common Archetypes.” The 12 Common Archetypes, http://www.soulcraft.co/essays/the_12_common_archetypes.html.

Kauffman, Mariah. “Battle of Good/Evil Situational Archetype.” Prezi.com, 25 Apr. 2016, prezi.com/evcpvtuefjg_/battle-of-goodevil-situational-archetype/.

Kopievsky, Mikhaeyla. “Dystopian Archetypes.” Mikhaeyla Kopievsky, 22 Mar. 2016, mikhaeylakopievsky.wordpress.com/tag/archetypes/.

McLeod, Saul. “Saul Mcleod.” Cognitive Approach \ Simply Psychology, Simply Psychology, 1 Jan. 1970, simplypsychology.org/carl-jung.html.

Melissa. “The Seductress Archetype.” Embers Igniting, 6 Sept. 2014, http://www.embersigniting.com/the-seductress/.

“Social Psychology (Sociology).” Wikipedia,  Wikimedia Foundation, 10 July 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_psychology_(sociology).

Ure, Carrie. “The Archetype of the Coward: Facing Fear Part I.” A Modern Mystic, 18 Mar. 2009, carrieure.org/2009/03/12/facing-fear-the-archetype-of-the-coward-par-i/.

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