Literature Study GuidesBrave New WorldThe Historical Significance Of Character Names

Brave New World

Aldous Huxley

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Brave New World | The Historical Significance of Character Names


Huxley created names for all of his major and most of his minor characters by selecting first and last names, or both, from people who had impacted the world in politics, religion, society, or business and industry. Most of these individuals were headliners during his lifetime, but others had influence in previous centuries.

John the Savage: Huxley very likely based this character's name on John the Baptist from the Bible's New Testament because of their similar life choices and beliefs. Like the biblical character, John the Savage wears clothes made from animal skins and eats food produced from nature. He is horrified by the World State inhabitants' immorality, dependence on drugs, and pursuit of superficial lives over spiritual beliefs. The author refers to his main character as Savage to satirize his gentle and selfless nature compared to the self-centered and artificial lives of the people he encounters in London.

Mustapha Mond: This leader of the London World State earns his first name from Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who transformed his homeland of Turkey from the ashes left after WWI into a vital nation by modernizing its political, economic, and educational infrastructures. The character's last name, Mond, is based on Alfred Mond, 1st Baron Melchett, a British scientist (like the character Mustapha Mond) and liberal politician who joined the Conservative Party in 1926 after a falling-out with socialist Lloyd George the previous October.

Henry Foster: This character is a genetic engineer in the Central London Hatchery. He is a fervent disciple of his namesake, Henry Ford—the American industrialist who changed the world of production with his assembly line. Huxley might have selected his surname because it begins with the same letter as the automotive pioneer, or because he continues to advance, or foster, the assembly line process.

Bernard Marx: Although this World State psychologist and hypnopaedia expert's first name is the same as the middle name of Irish playwright and socialist George Bernard Shaw, he tries to conquer his society's hypocrisy and shallowness from a different perspective. Huxley's character takes a serious stance regarding the World State's ills, where Shaw often viewed English society with a comic eye. The conditioning expert gets his surname from Karl Marx, a German socialist whose book The Communist Manifesto (1848) became the bible of those who sought a classless society.

Lenina Crowne: Lenina's first name is a derivative of the leader of the 1917 Russian Revolution, Vladimir Ilich Lenin. This shows Huxley's sense of humor, as Ms. Crowne is a complete conformist who would never rebel against the World State. Her surname is probably a reference to John Crowne, a 17th-century British writer of romantic plays. This fits Lenina since she happily accepts the World State's views on multiple loving relationships.

Fanny Crowne: Considering the author's affinity for names tied to socialism and communism, Huxley most likely took Crowne's first name from Fanny Kaplan, a Russian Socialist Revolutionary Party member who shot but didn't succeed in assassinating Vladimir Lenin. It is no coincidence that Fanny and Lenina are good friends. Her surname also comes from the dramatist John Crowne, since she loves the dating scene.

Helmholtz Watson: Huxley chose his propagandist's first name from a German scientist and philosophic writer, Hermann von Helmholtz. Both the World State's Helmholtz and his name predecessor share the belief that writing with substance evolved from the senses. Brave New World's writing professor's surname is another example of Huxley's ironic nature as his namesake is John B. Watson, an American behaviorist who was a staunch believer in conditioning. Helmholtz Watson is affronted by conditioning. He believes people should be permitted to speak from their hearts.

Popé: This Indian is Linda's lover for the 20 years she lives on the Reservation. He is named for a Pueblo Indian rebel who led a successful revolt against the Spaniards in 1680 and restored the tribes' customs and traditions.

Arch-Community-Songster of Canterbury: This World State leader's name is a satiric reference to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Church of England. In 1930 at the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican leaders accepted limited use of contraception. In the World State contraception is required. Canterbury Cathedral, one of the oldest churches in England, is the site of St. Thomas Becket's murder, and the destination for Geoffrey Chaucer's pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales.

Herbert Bakunin: This man's name combines the first name of a philosopher and the last name of an anarchist. Herbert Spencer, a 19th-century British theorist, believed that science dominates religion and that evolution is the explanation for life. Mikhail Bakunin was the leader of an anarchist group who split from Karl Marx's socialists in 1868.

Darwin Bonaparte: This man, who films John the Savage flogging himself, gets his name from Charles Darwin, the evolutionist who believed in the survival of the fittest, and Napoleon Bonaparte, the Emperor of France from 1804 to 1814/15 and a brilliant military strategist.

Fifi Bradlaugh: Fifi inherits her last name from Charles Bradlaugh, a British atheist. This is fitting considering her enthusiasm for the Solidarity Service. Her first name, Fifi, is a popular name for French poodles. It fits her tendency to accept mob mentality and not think for herself.

Clara Deterding: Clara Deterding, another member of Bernard's Solidarity Service group, is named after Clara Ford, the wife of Henry Ford, and Sir Henri Deterding, the founder of the Royal Dutch Shell Group. Deterding was knighted by the British for his help during WWI and was a supporter of the Nazi Party's fight against the communists in the 1930s.

Joanna Diesel: Huxley gave Joanna the surname of Diesel for Rudolf Diesel, the man who invented the internal combustion engine, more widely known as the diesel engine, in 1890.

Dr. Shaw: Most likely Huxley named the doctor who kept Linda in a perpetual soma state after George Bernard Shaw, the playwright whose middle name he also used for Bernard Marx.

George Edzel: George's last name is from Edsel Bryant Ford, Henry's son. Unfortunately, the 1958 Ford Edsel car was named one of the 50 worst cars of all time due to engineering flaws. It was panned because the emblem on the front grill looked like a commode seat! Edzel's first name may be for George Bernard Shaw.

Sarojini Engels: Her surname comes from Karl Marx's philosophic and writing partner, Friedrich Engels. Ms. Engels's first name is adopted from Sarojini Naidu, an Indian politician, poet, and suffragette; more importantly, she was the first woman to lead the Indian National Conference.

Jean-Jacques Habibullah: Huxley gave this man the first name of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a French philosopher who believed that societies created unhappiness and much of the problems they then have to resolve, and that nature holds the key to contentment. This character's last name comes from Habibullah Khan, the Emir of Afghanistan for the first 18 years of the 20th century.

Benito Hoover: This chewing-gum fan is named after Benito Mussolini, nicknamed Il Duce, who was the Fascist Italian Premier from 1922 to 1943. Huxley gave his character the last name of the U.S. President from 1929 to 1933, Herbert Hoover.

Jim Bokanovsky: His last name is from the Bokanovsky Process, the cloning method Huxley contrived for Brave New World. Although this inventor lived only in the author's imagination, Huxley named Bernard's Solidarity Service member for his fictional scientist.

Tom Kawaguchi: Ekai Kawaguchi, a Buddhist monk, was a frequent explorer of Tibet and Nepal between 1899 and 1912.

Miss Keate: The head of the private children's school in the London World State is named after Dr. John Keate, headmaster from 1809 to 1834 of Eton College, the prestigious English boys school where Huxley once taught.

Primo Mellon: Huxley named this character after Miguel Primo de Rivera, a dictator who ruled Spain from 1923 to 1930. His surname comes from Andrew Mellon, a financier from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the Secretary of the Treasury from 1921 to 1932.

Morgana Rothschild: This character is named after two world famous financial giants, John Pierpoint Morgan and a leading European banking family since 1744, the Rothschilds.

Polly Trotsky: Polly Trotsky is named after Leon Trotsky, who was part of the 1917 Russian Revolution. After Lenin died in 1924, he vied for the leadership position against Joseph Stalin, but lost. In 1929 he was exiled from Russia, and in 1940 he was assassinated.

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