Carl Jung’s Concept of Mind in "Brave New World" By Aldous Huxley

“Man needs difficulties; they are necessary for health.” This statement was made by a well-known man, Carl Gustav Jung. Jung was a Swiss psychoanalyst who developed concepts of mind known as the shadow, anima, and persona. According to Jung’s concept of mind, the shadow is considered one’s dark side; it is one’s uncivilized instincts. The persona is the social image that an individual presents themselves as to others; it’s the side they want society to view. Lastly, the anima or animus is one’s soul image. One’s anima or animus is the opposite of their given gender: a male has an anima, a female, an animus. The anima and animus are the “feminine” or “masculine” stereotypes within a person. In the novel, Brave New World, Aldous Huxley demonstrates the ideas presented by Carl Jung. Lenina masks her true self from the rest of society and only shows her conditioned persona, Bernard embraces his anima and ‘feministic’ qualities, and finally, John becomes overwhelmed by his shadow, which is what eventually leads him to commit suicide. Out of these three Jungian concepts, the shadow, persona, and anima/animus, the author favors the persona, for he shows Lenina deviating from her conditioned persona and reaching towards individuality, whereas the others, John and Bernard, fail to succeed at individualization.

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In the novel, Brave New World, Aldous Huxley presents a society where all individuals are conditioned to mask their true persona and conform to what society sees as “socially correct.” All individuals living in the World State are conditioned to have the same social mask that has been imposed upon them even before birth. Everyone is conditioned to be satisfied with their physical appearance as well as their social caste. In the World State, conformity is the main social normality, and any behavior that deviates from conformity is strongly discouraged. Lenina’s behavior shows that her conditioning is powerful: because she is a Beta, she loves beautiful clothes, such as the jacket “made of bottle-green acetate with green viscose fur at the cuffs and collar,” and the “silver-mounted green morocco-surrogate cartridge belt” (Huxley 50). Lenina portrays the persona that is imposed on her and taught to her by the authorities of the World State at a young age. Like others in her caste, she is a beautiful, smart, and friendly woman. Also true to her conditioned persona, Lenina has slept with many different men.

Although Lenina is supposed to follow the way of society, “everyone belongs to everyone else”, Lenina distances herself from her conditioned persona and starts following her true desires when she exclusively starts seeing only one man, Henry Foster, for four months. Lenina’s best friend, Fanny, becomes worried due to this situation, and therefore heeds Lenina to behave more sensibly. Fanny wants Lenina to avoid displaying her true self and only show her acceptable persona. Lenina listens to Fanny’s advice and decides to follow the society’s conditioned ways, masking her true self, but the readers can still see cracks in her mask. Another example of when Lenina shifts away from her conditioned persona is evident when she starts falling in love with John. John is considered the “savage” man who has been brought from the Savage Reservation by Bernard to live in the World State to be a part of Mustapha Mond’s experiment. Lenina is supposed to belong to everybody else, but once again, she is unable to behave exclusively according to the conditioned desires imposed upon her, and this is shown when she falls madly in love with John. Lenina distancing herself from her conditioned persona shows the dawning of her individuality; she has moved away from society’s expectations of her and seems to be becoming her own individual.

One character who represents another aspect of the Jungian concept of mind is Bernard, who portrays and embraces his anima’s “feminine” qualities. The World State society displayed by Huxley contains gender stereotypes, and the author portrays the typical feminine stereotypes by illustrating Bernard as a character with a strong anima that he embraces. According to Carl Jung, the anima includes “vague feelings and moods, receptiveness to the irrational, capacity for personal love, and feeling for nature”. Bernard displays Jung’s definition of the anima through various events in the novel. For instance, when Bernard takes Lenina out on their first date, he spends time admiring the sea. “Bernard insisted on stopping his propeller and hovering on his helicopter screws within a hundred feet of waves” (Huxley 90), which shows Bernard’s “feeling for nature” (Jung). Another example of Bernard embracing his anima is when he shows receptiveness by going into the Savage Reservation even though it is populated with “uncivilized beings.” This is when Bernard first meets John, “the savage.” During their first interaction, Bernard is astounded by the reservation’s society since it is different from his normal, “civilized,” environment. He requests John to fly with him back to London and give an explanation about the type of life in John’s primitive society, showing Bernard’s anima’s receptive characteristics.

Furthermore, another trait of the Jungian concept of the anima is “in its individual manifestation the character of a man’s anima is by rule shaped by his mother. If he feels that his mother has a negative influence on him, his anima will often express itself in irritable, depressed moods, uncertainty, insecurity and touchiness”. Bernard further embodies the anima through his acknowledgement of these facts; although there are no parents in Huxley’s World State society, the mother figure of the anima can be seen as the World State society itself . Since Bernard is constantly tormented by his peers, the other Alphas, for looking different, it can be assumed that Bernard’s anima would be put into a negative state. This could also explain why Bernard is insecure and afraid of making mistakes. This is shown when he becomes nervous due to the threats about being sent to Iceland and when Mustapha Mond tells Bernard that he will be sent to an island towards the end of the novel.

Lastly, John represents the Jungian concept of the shadow; John is overwhelmed by his shadow and he realizes his destructive and impulsive capabilities towards the end of the novel. Throughout the novel, the author portrays the World State as a “civilized” society, where everything is filled with happiness and fun, while all the bad aspects of the shadow are shielded from the citizens of the World State. John, coming into the World State from the Savage Reservation, is considered different. He is accustomed to a life seen as “uncivilized” and “savage” by the standards of the World State society. For example, John lives in a society where there are mothers who give birth to children whereas in the World State, the concept of child bearing is considered appalling. John represents the shadow for the citizens of the World State because he has experienced the horrors of the uncivilized world and is not conditioned or kept blind to them. For example, John is the only one who knows the harshness of death and what mourning is. When Linda, John’s mother, dies in the hospital, John is the only one who feels upset about the situation, whereas the others were conditioned to believe death was normal. Later in the novel, John’s impulsive shadow arises when he and Lenina meet at the lighthouse. When Lenina attempts to seduce John, he physically and verbally assaults her under his shadow’s presence. “She was suddenly silent. Terror made her forget the pain. Opening her eyes, she had seen his face – no, not his face, a ferocious stranger’s, pale, distorted, twitching with some insane, inexplicable fury”. This “stranger’s face” appears as John assaults Lenina with the whip. After whipping her once for betraying him in a sense, he then focuses the whip on himself as punishment for his actions. The next day, John realizes what he had done to Lenina the night before; he sees himself as a new conformed, shadow-driven, stranger. John is overwhelmed with guilt and regret, leading him to succumb to his shadow. His feelings towards his shadow are essentially what leads him to commit suicide.

In the novel, Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, Lenina, Bernard and John each represent a different aspect of the Jungian concept of mind. Lenina portrays the persona; she masks her true identity and only shows her conditioned persona to conform with society. Bernard represents the anima and embraces his “feminine” qualities such as his feeling for nature as well as receptiveness towards the unknown, and John portrays the shadow for he is different than the others. John is the shadow for the rest of society because he is the only one who understands the bitterness of the “uncivilized” world, while the others are conditioned to live a life of happiness and play. Out of the three characters, Lenina is the most successful at individualization because she is able to find her true self within her conditioned persona.

14 May 2021

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