First, it is important to note Bernard’s physical appearance; he is described as having a “small, thin body” and a “melancholy face.” These physical markers set him apart from the other Alphas in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. However, Bernard isn’t just set apart by physical markers. His intellectual capacity for individuality, particularly near the opening of the novel, is remarkable. For instance, Bernard refuses to drink the soma, which would help him overcome his melancholy and irritability. All the other characters in the novel, including Lenina (Bernard’s love interest), take soma on a regular basis. Unlike the other characters, Bernard prefers isolation over social settings. For instance, on his first date with Lenina, Bernard reluctantly agrees to a social outing, although he makes it quite clear that he would prefer to be alone with Lenina. Later, Bernard and Lenina go on a helicopter journey over the sea and Bernard tries to explain that humans are individuals that can have original thoughts, rather than just cells within the body. Lenina, who represents the majority of the population, fails to understand and cannot overcome years of social conditioning.
Bernard’s opposition to the other men in the novel is, perhaps, best noted through his interaction with Benito. Bernard becomes outraged when Benito brags he enjoys having intercourse with Lenina and she is a “fun” sexual partner. Benito’s claim is highly conventional and an accepted norm in the community. In wanting something more than intercourse from a relationship, Bernard labels himself as a social outcast.
Although Bernard despises the other men in the novel, he desires social acceptance. Later in the novel, readers witness Bernard’s desire for acceptance within the social group. Tired of being a social outcast, Bernard hopes to use John the Savage to bring about his own fame within the community. Although Bernard’s plan works at first and the community is drawn to the spectacle of John, who appears as a “freak” and an outsider to the community, John rebels and Bernard’s pseudo-celebrity status quickly dissipates. Ultimately, Bernard is exiled to Iceland because he cannot assimilate properly into the community.