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Isolation is a tricky bird in Brave New World—even trickier than that time Big Bird counted to 17 on Sesame Street. On the one hand, it's a painful experience for the "unique" characters like John and Bernard, who find themselves at odds with the rest of society. On the other hand, it's a means to self-discovery and spirituality. Because of the latter, solitude is essentially outlawed in the novel's futuristic, highly controlled totalitarian setting. Imagine that—never being allowed to be alone. What about when you have to go to the bathroom?
Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.
John only "falls in love" with Lenina because she is the first white woman he's seen aside from his mother. He thinks she is the way out of a life of solitude and loneliness.
Bernard Marx in Brave New World as an OutcastGet Your
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Bernard Marx is the Brave New World’s favorite outcast. He doesn’t “fit in” because of his “smallness”. He’s isolated by his status as an outcast, and his alienation leads him to be a critic of the Brave New World rather than a proponent of it. He wishes he could fit in and be “happy. ” Bernard’s critique of society stems from his frustrated desire to “fit in” and not from any logical or rational problem he has with it. We learn that he has a “reputation” for being “anti-social” and that he’s an outcast who’s tolerated because he’s good at his job.
The only reason Bernard is anti-social is that society has rejected him as a substandard specimen. He’s too short, his voice lacks authority and he’s insecure. People gossip mercilessly about him, and he knows it. Because he’s rejected, he prefers to spend time alone-which causes even more gossip. But his aloneness has led him to develop a taste for the beauty of nature, his only real companion. The only person who understands Bernard is Helmholtz Watson. It seems that the people ostracize Bernard for being different in order to protect their precious status quo. Bernard hates everyone, but it’s really only because he’s jealous.
He’s an outsider who desperately wants in. That makes him pretty pathetic, which is why his friend Helmholtz Watson has so much compassion for him. But it seems that Helmholtz can only have this kind of compassion because he himself is so different. Helmholtz Watson, another minor character, is an interesting foil for Bernard; his character is Bernard’s exact opposite. Whereas Bernard is impotent, paralyzed, and cowardly, Helmholtz is a popular man of action, almost heroic in his bravery. Bernard is miserable because he doesn’t fit in; he’s alienated, envious, unhappy.
But Helmholtz is happy feeling like an outsider, comfortable with his alienation, experimenting with it, even. He’s increasingly aware of his uniqueness, his individual powers, and his self-awareness thrills rather than torments him. Helmholtz is in the position of rejecting the very kind of popularity that Bernard craves. Whereas Bernard is small-minded, Helmholtz is admirable and big-hearted. The two men are friends because they have their misfit status in common, and can confide in one another, but also because they are both searching for beauty-Bernard in nature, in solitude, and Helmholtz in art.
Author: Royce Ballin
Bernard Marx in Brave New World as an Outcast
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