In this article you will learn about the archetypes in Brave New World, the novel by Aldous Huxley, which contains examples of various archetypes commonly seen in literature throughout the ages.
What are the Archetypes in Brave New World?
John as a character fits both the archetype of outcast and seeker.
Initially when we meet him he has been shunned by the society he is brought up in and, despite his celebrity in the World State, he continues to be treated as an outsider to be observed and noted for his difference rather than embraced as part of the new society he has joined.
He acts as a seeker, on an archetypal journey to find the truth and discover a new world about which he has heard and wants to learn. He seeks knowledge, truth and companionship in the world around him.
Bernard is similarly an outcast from society but can also be seen as an archetypal orphan. He has no familial ties due to his creation in an artificial womb and, despite his high caste, he is treated as if he does not belong in the same way orphans often are in literature.
He carries this sense of not belonging and longing for connection with him throughout the novel, and this is seen in his relationships with John and Hemholtz.
Lenina is an archetypal innocent, naive and easily manipulated by others to believe what they want her to. She does not question the world order in the way that the other characters do, her innocent naivete allowing her to be comfortable with the status quo.
However, she also acts as an archetypal temptress, using her beauty and allure in her attempts to seduce John and tempt him to betray both his friend Bernard and the things he believes in.
Hemholtz is an archetypal sidekick for Bernard but also acts as a mentor to John in particular.
He helps John to navigate the new world he finds himself in, helping him to see the it with perspective and doing his best to help rescue him when he makes mistakes which could cost him dear.
Brave New World Book Summary
- The World State city of London – citizens are created in artificial wombs then indoctrinated into classes based on intelligence and labour.
- Lenina is popular and desirable. Bernard is not and has an inferiority complex.
- He disapproves of society’s methods of keeping the peace, including the drug ‘soma’, and is an outspoken critic. His only friend, Helmholtz, is a creatively stifled writer.
- Bernard holidays with Lenina on a New Mexico reservation, encountering normal people, sickness, ageing, different languages, religions and lifestyles for the first time.
- They encounter Linda, originally from the World State and living on the reservation with son John, having holidayed there and been left behind.
- Despite always living in the reservation, John has been treated as an outcast. Linda has taught John to read from just two books she owns, a scientific manual and the complete works of Shakespeare.
- As a result, John can only communicate his feelings in terms of Shakespearean drama.
- They return to London so John can see this “brave new world”.
- “Savage” John is treated as a celebrity, enjoying the attention.
- Bernard’s popularity as his custodian though is short lived. Linda, shunned and outcast, uses soma, while John refuses to attend Bernard’s social events, becoming appalled by the society.
- Lenina and John are attracted to each other, but John’s Shakespearean view of romance is incompatible with Lenina’s liberality.
- When she tries to seduce him he attacks her.
- Rushing to Linda’s deathbed causes a scandal, as this is not the “correct” attitude to death. John attacks a child who comes to the ward for “death-conditioning”, believing them disrespectful.
- He then tries to stop distribution of soma, causing a riot which the police put down by spraying vapor on the crowd.
- Bernard, Helmholtz, and John are brought before Mond, who tells Bernard and Helmholtz they are to be exiled to the islands.
- Mond claims that exile is a reward, with the islands full of the most interesting people who don’t fit society’s model.
- John rejects Mond’s arguments for social control but he refuses John’s request to go to the islands too.
- John moves to an abandoned hilltop, planning a solitary life. However, reporters and sightseers come to witness his self-flagellation, including Lenina.
- John attacks her, arousing the crows into a soma fuelled frenzy which he is caught up in. Remorseful about the events, he commits suicide.
Brave New World Archetype Examples
Want more literary archetypes?
Go check out our extensive list of archetypes in literature to find out more about the characters seen in literature throughout the ages.