Brave New World

by: Aldous Huxley

Point of View

Brave New World is written from a third person omniscient point of view, but the perspective switches from Bernard’s to John’s around the middle of the novel, indicating the shift from Bernard to John as the moral center of the story. By initially emphasizing Bernard’s inner monologue, the narrator portrays him as flawed yet superior to his peers due to his nonconformity and free-thinking. He alone feels uncomfortable with the promiscuity of World State, and chafes against the way men treat women like “meat.” Because the reader has access to Bernard’s interior life, his perspective seems normal and the society strange, instead of the other way around. However, Bernard proves unlikeable and untrustworthy once he begins to experience power and popularity after he brings John back to London. The point of view shifts to John, who is even more morally opposed to the tactics World State government uses to keep citizens docile and compliant. While the narrator seems to pity Bernard, we are encouraged to admire John, who is described as physically appealing, emotionally sensitive, artistic, and uncorrupted by the temptations of World State. Because John’s values are most aligned with traditional morals the reader will recognize, such as monogamy, family, and piety, his outrage at World State is relatable.

The narrator of Brave New World guides the reader’s impressions of the story, but is not active as a voice telling the story. Instead, Huxley uses a technique called free indirect address, where he uses various characters’ interior monologues to comment on the action and suggest how the reader should interpret it. For example, at the Reservation, Lenina thinks, “The place was queer, so was the music, so were the clothes and the goitres and the skin diseases and the old people. But the performance itself – there seemed to be nothing specifically queer about that.” We’ve already seen that Lenina is small-minded and suspicious of anything foreign, so the fact that even she can appreciate the rain ritual suggests there is a universality to the performance that transcends cultural differences. By using free indirect address, Huxley deepens our understanding of the characters, while indicating that their reactions to experiences are similar to what the reader’s reaction might be.