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When Helmholtz meets John the Savage, they quickly befriend each other. Bernard feels displaced while with them, and he continually does things to annoy them. After Helmholtz reads his poetry to the Savage, John pulls out his volume of Shakespeare and reads passages. The beauty of the writing stuns Helmholtz, but Bernard makes stupid jokes in order to disrupt the reading.
Everything goes well until John reads Romeo and Juliet. Since John still loves Lenina, he identifies with Romeo and puts a great deal of passion into the story. However, the idea of forbidden love is so alien to society that Helmholtz finally bursts out laughing. At this point, John angrily locks away his book. Helmholtz recognizes Shakespeare's genius, but admits that such foreign notions of romantic love could never cause his desire disruption of society. Per his actions, we can infer that Helmholtz is no true friend.