John – the illicit son of the Director and Linda, born and reared on the Savage Reservation ("Malpais") after Linda was unwittingly left behind by her errant lover. John ("the Savage," as he is often called) is an outsider both on the Reservation – where the natives still practice marriage, natural birth, family life and religion – and the ostensibly civilised World State, based on principles of stability and shallow happiness. He has read nothing but The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, which he quotes extensively, and, for the most part, aptly, though his allusion to "Brave New World" [Miranda's words in The Tempest] takes on a darker and bitterly ironic resonance as the novel unfolds. John is intensely moral according to a code that he has been taught by Shakespeare and life in Malpais but is also naïve: his views are as imported into his own consciousness as are the hypnopedic messages of World State citizens, and he is incapable of grasping that the men of Malpais whose admonishments taught him to regard his mother as a whore were the same men who continually sought her out despite their supposedly sacred pledges of monogamy. Because he is unwanted in Malpais, he accepts the invitation to travel back to London and is initially astonished by the comforts of the World State. However, he remains committed to values that exist only in his poetry, first spurning Lenina for failing to live up to his Shakespearean ideal and then the entire utopian society, asserting that its technological wonders and consumerism are poor substitutes for individual freedom, human dignity and personal integrity. He then ostracizes himself from society and attempts to purify himself of "sin" (desire), but is finally unable to do so and hangs himself in despair.
Bernard Marx – an Alpha-Plus sleep-learning specialist at the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. Bernard is a misfit. He is unusually short for an Alpha; an alleged accident with alcohol in Bernard's blood-surrogate before his decanting has left him slightly stunted. Bernard's independence of mind stems more from his inferiority-complex and depressive nature than any depth of philosophical conviction. Unlike his fellow utopians, Bernard is often angry, resentful, and jealous. At times, he is also cowardly and hypocritical. His conditioning is clearly incomplete. He doesn't enjoy communal sports, solidarity services, or promiscuous sex. He doesn't even get much joy out of soma. Bernard is in love with Lenina but he doesn't like her sleeping with other men even though "everyone belongs to everyone else". Bernard's triumphant return to utopian civilisation with John the Savage from the Reservation precipitates the downfall of the Director, who had been planning to exile him. Bernard's triumph is short-lived. Success goes to his head. Despite his tearful pleas, he is ultimately banished to an island for his non-conformist behaviour.
Helmholtz Watson – handsome and successful Alpha-Plus lecturer at the College of Emotional Engineering and a friend of Bernard. He feels unfulfilled writing endless propaganda doggerel and is restive to the stifling conformism and philistinism of the World State. Helmholtz is ultimately exiled to the Falkland Islands – a cold asylum for disaffected Alpha-Plus non-conformists – after reading a heretical poem to his students on the virtues of solitude and for helping John destroy some Delta's rations of soma after Linda's death. Unlike Bernard, he takes his exile in stride and comes to view it as an opportunity for inspiration in his writing.
Lenina Crowne – a young, beautiful nurse at the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. Lenina is promiscuous and popular but somewhat quirky in their society: she normally dates only one person at a time. She is basically happy and well-conditioned but will use soma to suppress unwelcome emotions. Lenina has a date with Bernard, to whom she feels ambivalently attracted, and she goes to the Reservation with him. On returning to civilisation, she tries and fails to seduce John the Savage. John loves and desires Lenina but he is repelled by her forwardness and the prospect of pre-marital sex, rejecting her as an "impudent strumpet". Lenina visits John at the lighthouse but he attacks her, unwittingly inciting onlookers to do the same. Her exact fate is left unspecified.
Mustapha Mond – Resident World Controller of Western Europe, "His Fordship" Mustafa Mond presides over one of the ten zones of the World State, the global government set up after the cataclysmic Nine Years' War and great Economic Collapse. Sophisticated and good-natured, Mond is an urbane and hyperintelligent advocate of the World State and its ethos of "Community, Identity, Stability," being uniquely aware among the characters of the novel of the precise nature of the society he oversees and what it has given up to accomplish its gains. Mond argues that art, literature, and scientific freedom must be sacrificed to secure the ultimate utilitarian goal of maximising societal happiness and defends the genetic caste system, behavioural conditioning, and the lack of personal freedom in the World State; these, he says, are a price worth paying for achieving social stability, the highest social virtue because it leads to lasting happiness.
Fanny Crowne – Lenina Crowne's friend (they have the same last name because only ten thousand last names are in use in the World State). Fanny's role is mainly to voice the conventional values of her caste and society, particularly the importance of promiscuity: she warns Lenina that she should have more men in her life because it looks bad to concentrate on one man for too long, then warns her away from a new lover whom she considers undeserving, yet is ultimately supportive of Lenina's attraction to the savage John.
Henry Foster – One of Lenina's many lovers, he is a perfectly conventional Alpha male, casually discussing Lenina's body with his coworkers. His success with Lenina, and his casual attitude about it, infuriates the jealous Bernard. Henry ultimately proves himself every bit the ideal World State citizen, finding no courage to defend Lenina from John's assaults despite having maintained an uncommonly longstanding sexual relationship with her.
The Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning (DHC) a.k.a. Thomas "Tomakin" – The Director administrates the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, where he is a threatening figure who intends to exile Bernard to Iceland. His plans take an unexpected turn, however, when Bernard returns from the Reservation with Linda (see below) and John, a child they both realize is actually his. This fact, scandalous and obscene in the World State not because it was extramarital (which all sexual acts are) but because it was procreative, leads the Director to resign his post in shame.
Linda – John's mother, decanted as a Beta-Minus in the World State and subsequently lost during a storm while visiting the New Mexico Savage Reservation with the Director many years before the events of the novel. Despite following her usual precautions, Linda became pregnant with the Director's son during their time together and was therefore unable to return to the World State by the time that she found her way to Malpais. Having been conditioned to the promiscuous social norms of the World State, Linda finds herself at once popular with every man in the pueblo (because she is open to all sexual advances) and also reviled for the same reason, seen as a whore by the wives of the men who visit her and by the men themselves (who come to her nonetheless). Linda is desperate to return to the World State and to soma, wanting nothing more from her remaining life than comfort until death.
The Arch-Community-Songster – The Arch-Community-Songster is the secular equivalent of the Archbishop of Canterbury in the World State society.
The Warden – The Warden, an Alpha-Minus, is the talkative chief administrator for the New Mexico Savage Reservation. He is blond, short, broad-shouldered, and has a booming voice.
Darwin Bonaparte – a "big game photographer" (i.e., film maker) who films John flogging himself. Darwin Bonaparte is known for two other works: "feely of the gorillas' wedding", and "Sperm Whale's Love-life". He has already made a name for himself but still seeks more. He renews his fame by filming the savage, John, in his newest release "The Savage of Surrey". His name alludes to Charles Darwin and Napoleon Bonaparte.
- Freemartins: These women have been deliberately made sterile by exposure to hormones during fetal development. In the book, government policy requires freemartins to form 70% of the female population.
- Popé, a native of Malpais. Although he reinforces the behaviour that causes hatred for Linda in Malpais by sleeping with her and bringing her mescal, he still holds the traditional beliefs of his tribe. John also attempts to kill him, in his early years. He gave Linda a copy of the Complete Works of Shakespeare.
- Mitsima, an elder tribe shaman who also teaches John survival skills such as rudimentary ceramics (specifically coil pots, which were traditional to Native American tribes) and bow-making.
These are non-fictional and factual characters who lived before the events in this book, but are of note in the novel:
- Henry Ford, who has become a messianic figure to The World State. "Our Ford" is used in place of "Our Lord", as a credit to popularising the use of the assembly line. Huxley's description of Ford as a central figure in the emergence of the Brave New World might also be a reference to the utopian industrial city of Fordlândia commissioned by Ford in 1927.
- Sigmund Freud, "Our Freud" is sometimes said in place of "Our Ford" due to the link between Freud's psychoanalysis and the conditioning of humans, and Freud's popularisation of the idea that sexual activity is essential to human happiness and need not be limited to procreation. It is also strongly implied that citizens of the World State believe Freud and Ford to be the same person.
- H. G. Wells, "Dr. Wells", British writer and utopian socialist, whose book Men Like Gods was an incentive for Brave New World. "All's well that ends Wells" wrote Huxley in his letters, criticising Wells for anthropological assumptions Huxley found unrealistic.
- Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, whose conditioning techniques are used to train infants.
- William Shakespeare, whose banned works are quoted throughout the novel by John, "the Savage". The plays quoted include Macbeth, The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, King Lear, Troilus and Cressida, Measure for Measure and Othello. Mustapha Mond also knows them because he, as a World Controller, has access to a selection of books from throughout history, including the Bible.
- Thomas Robert Malthus, whose name is used to describe the contraceptive techniques (Malthusian belt) practised by women of the World State.
- Reuben Rabinovitch, the character in whom the effects of sleep-learning, hypnopædia, are first noted.
- John Henry Newman, Mustapha Mond discussed Cardinal Newman with the Savage after reading a quote from his book
Sources of names and references
The limited number of names that the World State assigned to its bottle-grown citizens can be traced to political and cultural figures who contributed to the bureaucratic, economic, and technological systems of Huxley's age, and presumably those systems in Brave New World:
- Bernard Marx, from George Bernard Shaw (or possibly Bernard of Clairvaux or possibly Claude Bernard) and Karl Marx.
- Henry Foster, from Henry Ford American industrialist, see above.
- Lenina Crowne, from Vladimir Lenin, the Bolshevik leader during the Russian Revolution.
- Fanny Crowne, from Fanny Kaplan, famous for an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Lenin. Ironically, in the novel, Lenina and Fanny are friends.
- George Edzel, from Edsel Ford, son of Henry Ford.
- Polly Trotsky, from Leon Trotsky, the Russian revolutionary leader.
- Benito Hoover, from Benito Mussolini, dictator of Italy; and Herbert Hoover, then-President of the United States.
- Helmholtz Watson, from the German physician and physicist Hermann von Helmholtz and the American behaviorist John B. Watson.
- Darwin Bonaparte, from Napoleon I, the leader of the First French Empire, and Charles Darwin, author of The Origin of Species.
- Herbert Bakunin, from Herbert Spencer, the English philosopher and Classical liberal, and Mikhail Bakunin, a Russian philosopher and anarchist.
- Mustapha Mond, from Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of Turkey after World War I, who pulled his country into modernisation and official secularism; and Sir Alfred Mond, an industrialist and founder of the Imperial Chemical Industries conglomerate.
- Primo Mellon, from Miguel Primo de Rivera, prime minister and dictator of Spain (1923–1930), and Andrew Mellon, an American banker and Secretary of the Treasury (1921–1932).
- Sarojini Engels, from Friedrich Engels, co-author of The Communist Manifesto along with Karl Marx: and Sarojini Naidu, an Indian politician.
- Morgana Rothschild, from J. P. Morgan, US banking tycoon, and the Rothschild family, famous for its European banking operations.
- Fifi Bradlaugh, from the British political activist and atheist Charles Bradlaugh.
- Joanna Diesel, from Rudolf Diesel, the German engineer who invented the diesel engine.
- Clara Deterding, from Henri Deterding, one of the founders of the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company, and Clara Ford, wife of Henry Ford.
- Tom Kawaguchi, from the Japanese Buddhist monk Ekai Kawaguchi, the first recorded Japanese traveller to Tibet and Nepal.
- Jean-Jacques Habibullah, from the French political philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Habibullah Khan, who served as Emir of Afghanistan in the early 20th century.
- Miss Keate, the Eton headmistress, from nineteenth-century headmaster John Keate.
- Arch-Community Singster of Canterbury, a parody of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Church's decision in August 1930 to approve limited use of contraception.
- Popé, from Popé, the Native American rebel who was one of the instigators of the conflict now known as the Pueblo Revolt.
- John the Savage, after the term "noble savage" originally used in the verse drama The Conquest of Granada by John Dryden, and later erroneously associated with Rousseau. Furthermore, from the prophet John the Baptist.