The son of the Director and Linda, John is the only major character to have grown up outside of the World State. The consummate outsider, he has spent his life alienated from his village on the New Mexico Savage Reservation, and he finds himself similarly unable to fit in to World State society. His entire worldview is based on his knowledge of Shakespeare’s plays, which he can quote with great facility.
Read an in-depth analysis of John.
An Alpha male who fails to fit in because of his inferior physical stature. He holds unorthodox beliefs about sexual relationships, sports, and community events. His insecurity about his size and status makes him discontented with the World State. Bernard’s surname recalls Karl Marx, the nineteenth-century German author best known for writing Capital, a monumental critique of capitalist society. Unlike his famous namesake, Bernard’s discontent stems from his frustrated desire to fit into his own society, rather than from a systematic or philosophical criticism of it. When threatened, Bernard can be petty and cruel.
An Alpha lecturer at the College of Emotional Engineering, Helmholtz is a prime example of his caste, but feels that his work is empty and meaningless and would like to use his writing abilities for something more meaningful. He and Bernard are friends because they find common ground in their discontent with the World State, but Helmholtz’s criticisms of the World State are more philosophical and intellectual than Bernard’s more petty complaints. As a result, Helmholtz often finds Bernard’s boastfulness and cowardice tedious.
A vaccination worker at the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. She is an object of desire for a number of major and minor characters, including Bernard Marx and John. Her behavior is sometimes intriguingly unorthodox, which makes her attractive to the reader. For example, she defies her culture’s conventions by dating one man exclusively for several months, she is attracted to Bernard—the misfit—and she develops a violent passion for John the Savage. Ultimately, her values are those of a conventional World State citizen: her primary means of relating to other people is through sex, and she is unable to share Bernard’s disaffection or to comprehend John’s alternate system of values.
The Resident World Controller of Western Europe, one of only ten World Controllers. He was once an ambitious, young scientist performing illicit research. When his work was discovered, he was given the choice of going into exile or training to become a World Controller. He chose to give up science, and now he censors scientific discoveries and exiles people for unorthodox beliefs. He also keeps a collection of forbidden literature in his safe, including Shakespeare and religious writings. The name Mond means “world,” and Mond is indeed the most powerful character in the world of this novel.
Lenina Crowne’s friend (they have the same last name because only about ten thousand last names are in use in the World State). Fanny’s role is mainly to voice the conventional values of her caste and society. Specifically, she warns Lenina that she should have more men in her life because it looks bad to concentrate on one man for too long.
One of Lenina’s many lovers, he is a perfectly conventional Alpha male, casually discussing Lenina’s body with his coworkers. His success with Lenina, and his casual attitude about it, infuriate the jealous Bernard.
John’s mother, and a Beta. While visiting the New Mexico Savage Reservation, she became pregnant with the Director’s son. During a storm, she got lost, suffered a head injury and was left behind. A group of Indians found her and brought her to their village. Linda could not get an abortion on the Reservation, and she was too ashamed to return to the World State with a baby. Her World State–conditioned promiscuity makes her a social outcast. She is desperate to return to the World State and to soma.
The Director administrates the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. He is a threatening figure, with the power to exile Bernard to Iceland. But he is secretly vulnerable because he fathered a child (John), a scandalous and obscene act in the World State.
The Arch-Community-Songster is the secular, shallow equivalent of an archbishop in the World State society.
Popé was Linda’s lover on the New Mexico Savage Reservation. He gave Linda a copy of The Complete Works of Shakespeare.
The Warden is the talkative chief administrator for the New Mexico Savage Reservation. He is an Alpha.