What similarities and differences exist between Bernard Marx and John the Savage?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One similarity between Bernard and John is that they both represent anomalies that threaten the basis of the World State.  Bernard Marx is a product of the World State and is continually unsatisfied with his being in the world.  In contrast to the vision of emotional totality that the World State wishes to advance, Marx lies outside this appropriation, preferring to engage in self- destruction more than anything else.  John the Savage is another anomaly that exists outside of the World State.  John represents the force of consciousness in perhaps it purest form.  He is that "noble savage" in terms of existing outside of a realm of the World State's appropriation.  John lives in a world that the World State would prefer to not acknowledge.  In both characterizations, there is a condition of being that lives outside of the control and confines of the World state. Both Bernard and John embody the tendencies of human beings in a world that is becoming less human.

Yet, as human beings, both display some significant points of divergence.  Bernard outwardly criticizes elements of World State society, but secretly covets them.  Popularity, social acceptance, and sex are such attitudes that he critiques.  However, Bernard also demonstrates a need for these elements.  Bernard seems to be impotent towards taking action when it becomes clear that John faces difficulty in the "brave new world."  John lacks this inability to take action.  John truly believes in the passionate authenticity of his convictions.  Dumping the Soma out the window, outwardly rebelling against normative behavior, living on his own, and even his suicide are instances where John demonstrates how much he believes his ideals.  Bernard lacks this forceful nature of conviction and belief.  John's immersion and eventual imprisonment in the new world of London is far more intense than Bernard.  Accordingly, his reaction to this condition of being is far more reaching than Bernard's.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial