"Societies disintegrate from within more frequently than they are broken up by external pressures. There is disintegration when no common morality is observed and history shows that the loosening of moral bonds is often the first stage of disintegration, so that society is justified in taking the same steps to preserve its moral code as it does to preserve its government... the suppression of vice is as much the law's business as the suppression of subversive activities."
The characters’ names in Brave New World tend to carry special meaning. Many derive from prominent political leaders, dictators and philosophers.
The name Marx is taken from Karl Marx, a philosopher and political theorist who believed strongly in socialism and played an important role in developing modern communism. ‘Lenina’ comes from Vladimir Lenin, the Bolshevik leader during the Russian Revolution. Benito Hoover comes from Benito Mussolini, dictator of Italy, and Herbert Hoover, a US president.
Odysseus was a Greek hero who famously took ten years to find his way home from the Trojan War, fighting through many adventures along the way before finally returning to his beloved wife and son. His exploits formed the epic poem The Odyssey, composed by the ancient Greek bard Homer. Read more about The Odyssey on Book Drum. Jupiter was the king of the Roman pantheon of gods, the equivalent of the ancient Greek god Zeus.
Job is an important figure from Hebrew scriptures, and the central character of the Book of Job. Satan destroys Job’s wealth, children and health in order to tempt him into cursing God. However, despite his difficulties, Job never loses faith. God rewards Job by restoring his wealth and happiness, and allowing him to live for another 140 years.
Gotama Buddha was a spiritual leader in India and the founder of Buddhism.
The Pregnancy Substitute that Fanny must take is described as including Syrup of Corpeus Luteum, Ovarin, Mammary Gland Extract, and 5cc of Placentin.
Mammary glands are the glands in mammals that produce milk for their young. Placentin may refer to the placenta or to the hormones or proteins produced by it. The placenta is the organ that connects the developing foetus to the uterus, allowing nutrients to pass through to it and waste to pass out. The corpeus luteum is a temporary system of glands that develops in the ovary. If the egg is fertilised it releases hormones that will thicken the lining of the uterus, which is essential for maintaining pregnancy.
These are all natural to a woman's birth cycle. In Brave New World, women will never become pregnant and give birth, so must take these substitutes in order to 'fool' the body into feeling that it is carrying out its natural functions.
This ties in with Huxley's philosophy that for the state to be stable, the individual must be stable. Plato's Republic follows similar themes: individuals are chaotic and violent because they do not know what is good for them, and so are damaging to the state. The philosopher ruler must take over, teach people of the Good, and so create a state with more stable, moral men.
Huxley's new world can be seen as such a state, in which its citizens have been conditioned to know what is Good. As such, the individual is stable, making possible a stable state.
Anthrax is a lethal disease that can be used as a biological weapon.
For pages 40-48, an interesting narrative technique is used: shifting quickly between characters. The characters involved are Mond and his students, Henry Foster and the Assistant Predestinator, Lenina and Fanny Crowne, and Bernard Marx.
Here, Huxley is demonstrating different aspects of and arguments concerning the new world. With Mond and his students, he shows the education they receive; Henry and the Assistant Predestinator tell of the benefits; Lenina and Fanny show what daily life in the new world is like, and Bernard Marx is the cynic, who argues why the state is bad.
Soma is the narcotic yet innocuous dream-inducing drug taken by citizens of the new world to relieve bad feelings or to take a break from life. It is the government's way of controlling individuals through pleasure. Soma is consumed in various situations: for confidence, to relieve bad feelings and thoughts, for sex, and for a soma-holiday (in which the consumer is unconsciously transported to an imaginary holiday).
Soma originates from 'sauma': the ritual drink taken by the early Indo-Iranians and the later Vedic and Persian cultures. Worshippers believed that taking soma would make them immortal:
- a ápāma sómam amŕtā abhūmâganma jyótir ávidāma devân
- c kíṃ nūnám asmân kṛṇavad árātiḥ kím u dhūrtír amṛta mártyasya
- We have drunk Soma and become immortal; we have attained the light, the Gods discovered.
- Now what may foeman's malice do to harm us? What, O Immortal, mortal man's deception?