The title, Brave New World, comes from Shakespeare's, Tempest.*


To Orwell Today:


I could really use some help. I am working on a high school project and I had to read the book Brave New World. After reading this book I was told to find as many quotes made by William Shakespeare and also name what plays the quotes were in. If you have any resources it would be a great help. I really don't know where else to look.

Thank You,

Dear Gina,

Shakespearean references come up several times in Brave New World but I have never gone back to the book looking for them specifically so you'll have to do that yourself, provided you know enough about Shakespeare to recognize them when you see them.

In Brave New World only the elite - and those not under their control - can concentrate long enough to read Shakespeare, let alone understand the human drama his works describe. In the World State society of Brave New World there is no drama, just day to day ignorant bliss and sexual promiscuity starting at babyhood. The people are genetically modified before artificial conception and then for the rest of their lives they're drugged into apathy, mindlessness and addiction with Soma (similar to Ritalin, Prozak, etc).

Here's a typical citizen of Brave New World talking:

"..'I don't understand anything', she said with decision, determined to preserve her incomprehension intact. ...'Why you don't take soma when you have these dreadful ideas of yours. You'd forget all about them. And instead of feeling miserable, you'd be jolly. So jolly'..."

And here's an elite glorifying in the total mindlessness of the average citizen of the World State. Notice the Shakespearean references, which I've bolded and underlined as an example for your assignment:

"...'Our world is not the same as Othello's world... You can't make tragedies without social instability. The world's stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can't get. They're well off; they're safe; they're never ill; they're not afraid of death; they're blissfully ignorant of passion and old age; they're plagued with no mothers or fathers; they've got no wives, or children, or lovers to feel strongly about; they're so conditioned that they practically can't help behaving as they ought to behave. And if anything should go wrong, there's soma. Which you go and chuck out of the window in the name of liberty, Mr. Savage. Liberty!' He laughed. 'Expecting Deltas to know what liberty is! And now expecting them to understand Othello! My good boy!..."

In the society of Brave New World the people know nothing about Shakespeare, and even if they did they'd be incapable of reading and understanding it. Orwell explains it well in 1984 where he mentions Shakespeare in this passage:

"...By the year 2050 - earlier probably - all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron - they'll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually changed into something contradictory of what they used to be. Even the literature of The Party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like "freedom is slavery" when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking - not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness..."

And here's what Orwell's wife wrote in her poem entitled, END OF THE CENTURY - 1984, which she wrote in 1934 after reading Huxley's Brave New World:

"...Shakespeare's bones are quiet at last,
...No book disturbs the lucid line,
For sun-bronzed scholars tune their thought
To telepathic Station 9
From where they know just what they ought,
...mental cremation that should banish
Relics, philosophies and colds..."

I suggest that in completing your assignment you get a volume of THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE and scan the titles of the Tragedies and Comedies and when you recognize one of those names in Brave New World then tick it off. That should get you a few marks at least. And hopefully you will appreciate the opportunity to read and study Shakespeare while you still can.

~ Jackie Jura

* BRAVE NEW WORLD: SOMA, SHAKESPEARE, AND SUICIDE: THE TERRORS OF TECHNO UTOPIA (The title, Brave New World comes from Shakespeare's, Tempest. As voiced by the character Miranda, "Oh wonder, how many goodly creatures are there here, how beautious mankind is, oh Brave New World that has such people in it." Now that particular phrase in the Tempest is repeated by the main character, the Savage or John, three times throughout the book....


Et tu, KC, can enjoy Bard's best (Heart of America Shakespeare Festival). KansasCityNews Jun 16, 2004
One of the best things Kansas City has going for it in summertime — especially when the Royals are tanking — is the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival. It begins this week in Southmoreland Park and runs until July 11. And no, I'm not plugging it, as some might assume, because my employer is a festival sponsor and I some lackey for management. What does being a lackey have to do with anything, anyway? And as far as me shamelessly trying to ingratiate myself with the big bosses who have the power to give me a big office and an impressive new title to go with it, let me just say this. I've tried it before. Doesn't work. No, the reason I am plugging the Shakespeare festival is that many of you do not know what you're missing. Some 25,000 to 30,000 will turn out to see “Julius Caesar” this year, if 2003 attendance is any guide. That's great, yes. However, that means 1.7 million area folks are not taking advantage of this special opportunity. Wise up. It's great entertainment and it's free.

My wife and I have been almost every year since the festival started in 1993, and we always have a great time. We are very much into free at our house. We like free. However, we're not so fond of free that we're unwilling to give a donation at the Shakespeare festival's gate. It doesn't break us. Once inside, we usually find ourselves a spot to spread out a blanket. We uncork a bottle of wine, assemble our picnic supper and then sit waiting for darkness to fall and sweating actors to appear and commence clanking swords beneath the moonlight. They don't always have swordfights in these plays. Sometimes the actors must make do with knives. Did you know “Julius Caesar” concerns a murder? I should have mentioned this at the poker party the other night. Because not one hand went up when I asked my beer-swilling card buddies whether any of them had ever been to the Shakespeare festival in Kansas City. They seem to think Shakespeare was stuffy. Had they only known the truth. And I might have closed the deal by mentioning that sometimes Shakespeare in the park can cause one to feel as if he's stepped into an episode of “Cops,” what with sirens blaring in the distance and police helicopters flying overhead. Take the year the offering was “Romeo and Juliet.” Non-poker players: Do you remember the part where the grief-stricken Juliet is about to commit suicide over the supposed death of Romeo, who has not actually bought the farm just yet, but will when he learns she has killed herself over his death, which, as I mentioned, hadn't actually happened but…? Anyway, during the big Juliet death scene, the whup-whup-whup of chopper blades got so close it almost drowned out the actors on stage there in the park just across from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Who knows what the police helicopter was looking for? But the copter's spotlight shone on the leading lady, as if the KCPD was saying, “Don't you do it, miss — you've got so much to live for.” Another year, someone crashed a car through a nearby barricade blocking off the street serving as prestige parking lot. Still, I cannot guarantee you or my poker pals that every night will have such thrills. Sometimes the action on stage has to do. My suggestion, should you attend: Keep an eye on Brutus. The dude's up to no good. ~ Mike Hendricks

Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~