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Henry Foster: The real Henry Foster was an officer in the British Navy and a scientist whose discoveries were in subjects related to sea travel, such as magnetism and pendulum measurements. If Huxley's character is a nod to this historical Henry Foster, then it might have to do with the fictional Foster's preoccupation with numbers and measurements. The other contender for this reference is John Foster, a British essayist who was a die-hard supporter of regimented education. Since Foster knows all about engineering and conditioning the embryos, this is a great representation of what "education" has become in this brave new world. The first name "Henry" also gets "Henry Ford" into the mix again.
In 1958, Huxley published an essay called Brave New World Revisited, in which he basically says, “I was right” and predicts that his horrifying vision of the future will sooner rather than later. Is the future so bright we have to wear shades? Or is it so dark that we should thank our lucky stars Huxley's predictions haven't quite come true? …Yet.
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Since everyone is obsessed with material goods in Brave New World, clothing is a good measure of character. On one level, clothing will tell you to what caste an individual belongs. Gammas wear green, Deltas wear khaki, Epsilons wear black, etc. But the way women talk about clothes is particularly revealing as well. Fanny and Lenina, as good, "healthy," conditioned members of society, are very into attire—just look at the way Fanny admires Lenina's Malthusian belt (itself a tool of characterization, since wearing contraceptives on your belt is a good indication of your sexual habits). Linda, too, talks a lot about clothing, evidence that she, or at least her priorities, haven't really changed at all in the last twenty years. The anecdote of John wearing rags because Linda didn't know how to mend worn-out garments reminds us that she seems woefully ill-suited to live on the Savage Reservation. We were also a fan of Lenina's sleeping attire—a "onesey," as a nod to her infantile behavior.
Helmholtz Watson: Hermann von Helmholtz was a famous German physicist. Let's just say that, if we were physicists, we would know an equation or two named after him. John Broadus Watson was an American psychologist who sort of started behaviorism (the theory that you can alter behavior with conditioning, and also that changing behavior is the best way to effect psychological change). He's also the guy responsible for the "Little Albert" experiment in which an infant was given a rat to play with. They became good friends, which went just fine until a bunch of scientists started making loud scary noises when the rat was around. Even when they took away the noises, Albert was scared of the rat. This is basically a less-cruel version of the electrocuting-babies practice we see in Brave New World.
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