Brave New World


Chapter 16

Chapter 16 Summary

The police bring John, Helmholtz and Bernard to the office of Mustapha Mond. When Mond walks in, he addresses John, saying cordially, “So you don’t much like civilization, Mr. Savage.” John agrees that this is mostly true, but admits that he does like music, to which Mond replies with a quotation from Shakespeare. John is pleased to see that Mond is able to quote Shakespeare.

This leads to Mond’s explanation for why Shakespeare is banned, as well as our realization that Mond has access to banned materials. Using this as a jumping-off point, Mond explains to the three men at length why censorship is important for maintaining social stability. The reason, he says, that literature is forbidden is because it is beautiful, and therefore people tend to become attached to it. This means that they will cling to things which are old. A society such as this one, which is fundamentally centered around consumerism, must constantly be leaving room for the new. So, it must always be out with the old, in with the new.

Mond also explains that at this point it would be hopeless to expect the citizens of the World State to understand Shakespeare, because his poems and plays all revolve around emotions and experiences that simply do not exist for them. Mond challenges John as to whether he has tried to share his Shakespeare with members of the World State, and John admits that no, they were not able to understand it.

Mond says that the kinds of intense emotional struggles represented in Shakespeare have been replaced in the World State by “happiness,” which Mond defines as essentially the satisfaction of desires. John’s version of happiness is very different, and he argues that infantilizing people, reducing them to simply creatures motivated by desire and gratification, creates terrible people. He asks why not all of the citizens of the World State are Alphas, and Mond explains that the caste system is in place so that every citizen is happy performing his own specific function....

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