Sketch Bernard's character in Brave New World. Give examples.

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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  • Bernard Marx is the protagonist in the first half of Brave New World.
  • He named after Karl Marx, one of the founding fathers of the communist/socialist government in the USSR.
  • He is an Alpha plus, but he hates his status.  He also hates what happens at the hatcheries.  He says:

One hundred repetitions three nights a week for four years, thought Bernard Marx, who was a specialist on hypnopædia. Sixty-two thousand four hundred repetitions make one truth. Idiots!


Bernard hated them, hated them. But they were two, they were large, they were strong.

  • He is a rebel, a kind of thought criminal (like Winston in 1984).  He knows the utopia is a dystopia, but he is too weak to lead a rebellion.
  • He dates Lenina (named after Vladimir Lenin), which is forbidden.  Together, Bernard and Lenina are foils for John and Linda (the Savages) respectively.
  • Bernard is a protagonist in the first half of the novel, but he becomes an antagonist in the second half, as he exploits John and contributes to his death.
  • Bernard is threatened to be exiled to Iceland.  This negates all rebellious thoughts and motivations he might have had.  In the end, he is too weak to be heroic.
  • Bernard is a static character: he doesn't learn from John or the Savages that the Utopia is evil.  He accepts the dystopia in the end.

Enotes has this say:

Huxley presents us with Bernard’s thoughts, and his dilemma—he personifies everything the World State has supposedly suppressed in his lovesick, jealous, and angry inner tirade against anyone who would “have” Lenina, denying him his chance. Bernard is hardly a traditional hero figure, but that’s why he is so valuable to the story and to Huxley—he represents negative, perhaps even self-destructive, human values in a world that is growing increasingly less human.

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unique254 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

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Bernard Marx - An Alpha male who fails to fit in because of his inferior physical stature. He holds unorthodox beliefs about sexual relationships, sports, and community events. His insecurity about his size and status makes him discontented with the World State. Bernard’s surname recalls Karl Marx, the nineteenth-century German author best known for writing Capital, a monumental critique of capitalist society. Unlike his famous namesake, Bernard’s discontent stems from his frustrated desire to fit into his own society, rather than from a systematic or philosophical criticism of it. When threatened, Bernard can be petty and cruel.

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