What do Bernard Marx and Helmholtz Watson have in common in Brave New World by Aldous Huxley?

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Bernard Marx and Helmholtz Watson of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World are both intelligent men who are discontent with the New World. While Bernard finds the required consumerism insipid, he wants to enjoy nature, and is criticized for his actions since the residents of the New World have been conditioned to hate the outdoors.  Bernard is repulsed by the emptiness of the Solidarity Service, as well.  But, instead of pursuing something worthwhile to occupy his time, after Bernard travels to the Reservation with Lenina, Bernard realizes that he can wreak revenge on the Director who is the savage's father.  So, even though he is not a consumer, Bernard becomes petty and selfish, eventually destroying himself.  Helmholtz Watson, on the other hand, is a very intelligent man, who like Bernard hopes that something more meaningful is in his future.  As he writes slogans for the residents, Helmholtz realizes that there must be better uses for his writings. After learning that he is to be exiled, he hopes to write something more meaningful.  Yet, both men are products of their society, for they cannot understand  truly what they lack.  When John Savage tries to share Shakespeare with the two men, they cannot understand the meanings in the play. Both are limited by their conditioning.

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

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Let's start by stating some simple, surface level similarities.  Both characters are male, and both are bred Alpha males.  That means both men have been designed and conditioned to be top tier members of society.  They are both engineered to be intelligent men as well.  Probably their most important similarity is the fact that both men are unhappy with the world/society that they are a part of.  While both men should be happy based on their status, they are both discontented with what they see around them.  Unfortunately, the reason for each man's discontent is very different from the other man's reason.  

Bernard is unhappy with society because he just can't seem to crack his way into it.  While he has been born and bred an Alpha, he isn't as tall and handsome as he is supposed to be.  Consequently, Bernard isn't the popular guy that he longs to be.  His unhappiness is based on superficial insecurities.  On the other hand, Helmholtz is unhappy because he feels that he is being stifled by the society around him.  He has popularity in spades because he's more or less the most attractive man in the world; however, he is unhappy with the restrictions that his society has placed on his thoughts and his expressions.  

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