Brave New World
Freedom and Confinement Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"…what would it be like if I could, if I were free – not enslaved by my conditioning."
"But, Bernard, you're saying the most awful things."
"Don't you wish you were free, Lenina?"
"I don't know what you mean. I am free. Free to have the most wonderful time. Everybody's happy nowadays."
He laughed, "Yes, 'Everybody's happy nowadays.' We begin giving the children that at five. But wouldn't you like to be free to be happy in some other way, Lenina? In your own way, for example; not in everybody else's way."
"I don't know what you mean," she repeated. (6.1.27-32)
Lenina and Bernard can't understand each other here because they have different conceptions of the word "free." For Bernard, freedom is the freedom to be unhappy. Of course, Bernard isn't yet able to express this, so it is left to John to find the words in the second half of the novel. For Lenina, freedom is just another adjective she's been taught to apply to her life as it stands. She is free and happy because she's been told she is free and happy. The language has been corrupted and is as controlled by the State as citizens are.
Bernard felt extremely uncomfortable. A man so conventional, so scrupulously correct as the Director – and to commit so gross a solecism! lt made him want to hide his face, to run out of the room. Not that he himself saw anything intrinsically objectionable in people talking about the remote past; that was one of those hypnopædic prejudices he had (so he imagined) completely got rid of. (6.2.7)
This parenthetical is incredibly important for Bernard's character – and it may go some distance in getting him off the hook for being a total jerk in the second half of the novel. Try as he might, Bernard is still a product of is environment. He can imagine that if he is conscious of the control exerted over him (he is a hypnopaedic expert, after all), he can escape its confines. But, as Lenina's waking-in-the-middle-of-the-night story demonstrates, self-consciousness is not a tool against oppression.
This time I thought I'd give them one I'd just written myself. Pure madness, of course; but I couldn't resist it." He laughed. "I was curious to see what their reactions would be. Besides," he added more gravely, "I wanted to do a bit of propaganda; I was trying to engineer them into feeling as I'd felt when I wrote the rhymes. Ford!" He laughed again. "What an outcry there was! The Principal had me up and threatened to hand me the immediate sack. l'm a marked man." (12.51)
Helmholtz seems rather unperturbed at his predicament. On the contrary, when Bernard learned he was going to get deported, he flipped out. Helmholtz's freedom, then, is a state of mind.