Henry Foster bumps into Lenina Crowne and he wonders if she is in good
health. If not, she perhaps needs a pregnancy substitute.
She tells him to mind his own business. She is concerned that John has not tried to have sex with her, and her friend Fanny gives no support spouting off about the ills of monogamy.
John’s feelings for Lenina are purely romantic. Lenina decides to take
matters into her own hands and she goes to see John.
He tells her that he loves her, and she takes this as a cue for them to have sex, and she whips her clothes off before John has a chance to react. He is instantly repelled by her lust, and flashes a Shakespearean quote at her, “Was this most goodly book made to write whore upon?” and he threatens her with physical violence.
However, just then he receives a summons to go to the hospital where his
mother is very ill.
John’s dialogue in this chapter is rich in Shakespearean quotes.
Up until now, these have been mainly from Romeo and Juliet, but when Lenina tries to seduce John, he quotes from Othello’s epithet for Desdemona, “impudent strumpet” yet of course Othello is tragically mistaken about his innocent wife’s infidelity, just as John has misconstrued Lenina’s behavior. The way she acts has been imprinted on her, but she does have some feeling for John, feelings that she has felt for nobody else.
Huxley clearly views the words of Shakespeare as John’s conscience, and
whenever John has a dilemma, he falls back on Shakespearean quotes. Huxley’s use of Shakespeare indicates one of the main themes of Brave New World, he considers Shakespeare to be the greatest writer in the
English language, but in Utopia his works are banned because they undermine the system, and this is the price to be paid in order to have stability.
It is interesting to note that Mustapha Mond is one of the very few allowed
to read Shakespeare.
Some scholars consider this chapter to be the key part of the whole novel,
and the entire credibility of the story depends on the reader’s reaction to it. Students should, therefore, study it in depth.