How do the characters in Brave New World develop throughout the book? Provide examples.
While there are many characters introduced in Brave New World, it is really a story of three outsiders: Bernard, Lenina, and John.
From the beginning of Brave New World, Bernard Marx is described as being different than others, specifically because of his small stature. In a society that celebrates stability and lack of individuality, Bernard is often mocked because of his size, and “the mockery made him feel an outsider; and feeling an outsider he behaved like one, which increased the prejudice against him” (Huxley 65). The prejudice that Bernard feels manifests itself as bitterness and discontent, especially with the rules of society. After he returns from the reservation, however, his connection to John brings about a newfound popularity. Briefly, Bernard feels a sense of importance, but once this wears off, Bernard is more unhappy than ever. In the end, he is exiled to a remote island because he is unable to go along with the standards of society.
Much like Bernard, Lenina Crowne stands out because of her physical appearance, but in this case, it is because she is more beautiful than the other women. She also shows other glimpses of nonconformity, such as maintaining an exclusive relationship with Henry Foster for several months. Her friend Fanny warns Lenina of the dangers of this relationship when she scolds, “I really do think you ought to be careful. It’s such horribly bad form to go on and on like this with one man” (Huxley 41). After a continued struggle, Lenina ultimately conforms to the expectations of the World State. She engages in meaningless sexual relationships, numbs herself with soma, and is unable to connect emotionally to John. Tragically, Lenina’s lack of humanity leads to her death at John's hands.
The ultimate outcast in Brave New World is John, the savage. He is an outsider at the Indian reservation, as well as when he returns to the World State. John is first introduced through the following description: “the dress of the young man who now stepped out on to the terrace was Indian; but his plaited hair was straw-colored, his eyes a pale blue, and his skin a white skin, bronzed” (Huxley 116). This demonstrates that John is stuck between the two cultures, unable to fit in completely in either one. Once John goes to the World State, he struggles even more to understand the society, which seems strange and even disgusting to him. He continues to feel ostracized and ridiculed. Finally, the customs of emotional detachment and promiscuity prove too much for John, and he commits suicide.
While the characters in this novel never change their fundamental outlooks on life, several develop as they adapt to circumstances. Bernard Marx, an Alpha plus who never quite fits in, is dissatisfied from the start with the limitations of his life in the World State. He engages in behaviors that his girlfriend, Lenina, considers odd and frightening, such as hovering their helicopter low over the churning seawater to experience being alone and being in nature. He later goes through a process of trying to fit in due to his newfound celebrity as the person who brought back the Savage. However, in the end, he accepts Mond's words that he will be happier in exile on a far-away island. While we never witness his complete transformation, we can imagine him growing and developing as he removes himself from the intense pressure for conformity that comes with living in the heart of his society.
John the Savage learns that the World State is not the paradise his mother, Linda, described. If anything, his time there reinforces his view that the value in life resides not in superficial pleasure and consumption, but in facing suffering and delving deeply into the great questions posed by religion, art, and philosophy. In the end, he chooses death as opposed to a continued tormented existence in the brave new world.
Most of the characters in Brave New World are static and flat: they are undeveloped and do not change because they are born into and conditioned to be in a caste system. This is especially true of the female characters, Lenina and Linda, who are superficial, addicted to pleasure, and have no real sense of identity or femininity. It is also true of the Director, Mustapha Mond, and Henry Foster, all of whom seek to protect their positions at the top of the caste system.
The only two characters who change and are self-aware are Bernard and John. Whereas Bernard rebels against the values of the "utopia" at the beginning, John rebels against them at the end of the novel. As the novel progresses, the two switch roles: Bernard loses his courage to rebel, and John succumbs to the pleasures of "orgy-porgy." Knowing that he is forever lost in this new world, John kills himself--becoming a kind of tragic-comic hero. Of course, Huxley exaggerates all the behaviors of his characters in order to show the effects of government mandated birth control, unbridled mass media, addiction to drugs and pleasure, and the remediation of books as the basis for education.