Brave New World Point of View

Instructor: Christina Boggs

Chrissy has taught secondary English and history and writes online curriculum. She has an M.S.Ed. in Social Studies Education.

One of the biggest questions readers should ask themselves is, 'Who is telling the story?' This lesson explores the point of view of Aldous Huxley's ''Brave New World'', and explains the significance of the author's choice of narrator.

Look Who's Talking

Read the following quotes from Aldous Huxley's Brave New World listed below. Can you figure out what each of them has in common?

  • A squat grey building of only thirty-four stories. Over the main entrance the words, CENTRAL LONDON HATCHERY AND CONDITIONING CENTRE, and, in a shield, the World State's motto, COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY.
  • Still leaning against the incubators he gave them, while the pencils scurried illegibly across the pages, a brief description of the modern fertilizing process...
  • Yes, I thought it was wonderful, he lied and looked away; the sight of her transfigured face was at once an accusation and an ironical reminder of his own separateness.
  • Odd, odd, odd, was Lenina's verdict on Bernard Marx. So odd, indeed, that in the course of the succeeding weeks she had wondered more than once whether she shouldn't change her mind about the New Mexico holiday...

What makes each of these seemingly different quotes alike? If you're struggling to find the answer, take a moment to think about the question, 'Who is doing the talking?'

Third Person Omniscient

You may have noticed that the narrator, or person sharing the information, does not reference himself. There are no 'I' statements or 'me' statements. There are no descriptions of 'us' or 'we'. Instead, the narrator shares information with the reader from the third person point of view. This means the narrator shares as an observer, a person completely removed from the story.

Notice how in the quotes from Brave New World below, the narrator uses third person pronouns like 'they', 'he', and 'she' to describe what's happening in the story:

  • And he (Helmholtz) held resolutely on his course. The girls trailed after him. It was not till he had actually climbed into Bernard's plane and slammed the door that they gave up pursuit.
  • Round they went, a circular procession of dancers, each with hands on the hips of the dancer preceding, round and round, shouting in unison, stamping to the rhythm of the music with their feet, beating it...
  • She looked at Bernard with an expression of rapture, but of rapture in which there was no trace of agitation or excitement--for to be excited is still to be unsatisfied. Hers was the calm ecstasy of achieved consummation...

In addition to just being a third person observer, the narrator is also omniscient, or all-knowing. As a result, the reader is given all sorts of juicy tidbits into the lives and minds of characters like Bernard Marx, Lenina Crowne, John the Savage, and even Mustapha Mond, the Resident World Controller of Western Europe.

Significance of the Third Person Omniscient in Brave New World

Telling a story in the third person omniscient is very common in literature. For Brave New World, however, this point of view is especially important. The book's author, Aldous Huxley, uses the third person omniscient to not only let us know what characters are thinking, feeling, and doing, he also uses it to create a critical juxtaposition between characters. In other words, he uses point of view to contrast key characters and highlight how and where they fit into the futuristic society they live in.

Take, for example, Lenina Crowne. Lenina is the perfect citizen. She was conditioned properly to be highly promiscuous, she takes soma (a drug) to escape from her feelings, and she enjoys all of the distractions that a proper person should:

Swallowing half an hour before closing time, that second dose of soma had raised a quite impenetrable wall between the actual universe and their minds. Bottled, they crossed the street; bottled they took the lift up to Henry's room on the twenty-eighth floor. And yet, bottled as she was, and in spite of that second gramme of soma, Lenina did not forget to take all the contraceptive precautions prescribed by the regulations.

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