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In his admiration of Helmholtz, Bernard Marx, in Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, desires to be a maverick but lacks the fortitude to be one. As an indication of his character, his physical defect symbolizes his inner nature as well. In Chapter 3, Henry Foster and the Assistant Director of Predestination
rather pointedly turned their backs on Bernard Marx from the Psychology Bureau: averted themselves from that unsavoury reputation....Those who feel themselves despised do well to look despising. The smile on Bernard Mrx's face was contemptuous.
Clearly, Bernard has an inferiority complex, and he tries to compensate for his hairy body and shorter stature--attributed as a mistake of adding alcohol into his blood-surrogate--by being intellectually independent:
One hundred repetitions three nights a week for four years, thought Bernard Marx, who was a specialist on hypnopaedia. Sixty-two thousand four hundred repetitions make one truth. Idiots!
In his resentment for being considered physically inferior, Bernard asserts himself in small rebellious acts that mimic one of America's great individualists: Henry David Thoreau. Bernard takes trips out to see nature, he seeks solitude, and he attempts "to march to the beat of a different drummer" by conscientious objection in returning to culture. His taking Lenina to the Reservation is such an act.
However, Bernard's complex about having a baser appearance prevents him from following Thoreau's path other than in theory. When he discovers Linda and John on the reservation, Bernard demonstrates his petty nature as he makes a move to attain the power he has pretended to scorn: he offers to take Linda and John back with him. And, after he becomes popular for having brought back John the Savage to the New World, Bernard flaunts his unorthodoxy for attention, proving himself a hypocrite. For, he reneges on his promises to John and simply exploits him and Linda for his own ends of popularity and revenge against the Director.
In contrast to Helmholtz and John, Bernard remains shallow and uninteresting, despite his loneliness and anguish. When the riot occurs in Chapter 15, Bernard is indecisive and craven.
urged by a sudden impulse, [Bernard] ran forward to help them [the Deltas]; then thought better of it and halted; then, ashamed, stepped forward agains; then again thought better of it, and was standing in an agony of humiliated indecision--thinking that they might be killed if he didn't help them, and that hemight be killed if he did--when (Ford be praised!) goggle-eyed and swine-snouted in their gas-masks, in ran the police....He shouted, 'Help!'
Unlike Helmholtz, an authentic man who anticipates eagerly the experience of cold and deprivation in his exile, Bernard whines about his sentence, trying to deflect any blame onto others:
Send me to an island?....You can't send me. I haven't done anything. It was the others. I swear it was the others.
In "a paroxysm of abjection," Bernard throws himself upon his knees before the Controller: Oh please, your forship, please...." Bernard persists in his grovelling, so the Controller has him vaporized with soma.
Nevertheless, Bernard, in his genuine unhappiness, does go the Falkland Islands more of a real human being than he has been before.
To me, Bernard Marx is a very selfish person who does not really have the courage to stand up for his beliefs. This is in contrast to Helmholtz Watson and John the Savage.
Bernard seems like he is something of a rebel. He disapproves of the society's attitude towards sex. He likes to be alone when that is not really acceptable. He doesn't really like sports.
But when it comes down to taking the consequences of these actions, he has no courage. He will not accept his exile the way that Watson does. Instead, he falls apart emotionally.
You can see his selfishness in how he tries to use people to advance his own career and popularity. This is especially clear in how he uses Linda to discredit the Director and how he uses John to make himself more popular.
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