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Contrasting Characters in Brave New World Essay


Brave New World Essay

Sometimes seemingly similar people turn out to be vastly different. In his novel Brave New World, Aldous Huxley compares and contrasts various characters. Although raised in vastly different societies, John the Savage and Bernard Marx represent very similar things. As the novel progresses, the differences that make them stand out become more clear. In Brave New World, John the Savage and Bernard Marx both connect and separate through the common themes of reality, knowledge, and isolation.

To Bernard Marx and John the Savage, reality should be a world without soma and conditioning; without feelies and endless promiscuity. Throughout his life, Bernard Marx has a painful awareness of reality and feels the impact of difference in a conformist society. For his Alpha plus status, Marxs physical appearance is slightly stunted. Many members of the dystopian society joke of alcohol [mistakenly placed] into his blood-surrogate as an embryo (46). The fully grown Marx learns to prefer this bitter reality, rarely taking soma. In contrast, John the Savage does not understand reality until he is in civilization. He lives most of his life on the reservation, and his mother teaches him everything he knows. Before he experiences civilization, he knows nothing of conditioning, unlike Marx, and is not conditioned himself. For him, reality is isolation from other savages in the reservation. However, once he arrives at civilization, John the Savage begins to despise the conforming customs and traditions. Once again setting himself apart from Marx, John attempts to bring freedom to Delta workers. His actions are pointless, of course, because the Delta workers were too conditioned to be saved. John the Savages attempt to help others sets him further apart from Marx, who only wants to help himself and improve his own life. In the end, John, by claiming the right to be unhappy, truly picks and prefers reality over fantasy, not Marx (240).

Knowledge is also a large part of both Bernard Marx and John the Savages somewhat shaky connection. While both want to learn, Marx prefers fact and science, whereas John prefers literature and the unknown. Knowledge shapes both characters in more ways than one. Throughout Bernards life, he is aware of his abilities as an Alpha plus, although many people do not give him the respect due to him. He is the one who initiates the experiment on the Savage in order to improve science. However, Marxs knowledge seems limited to comfortable, known subjects. In contrast, John the Savage values knowledge more than anything, often following his head over his heart. After learning to read from his mothers job manual, John craves more, and eventually finds himself in Shakespeare. Through reading and in mere thought itself, John seems to grow intellectually. From an outsiders perspective, this so called brave new world lives in mental slavery; he believes everyone should live in freedom (210). In the end, it is John the Savage who sticks with knowledge. It is knowledge that makes him keep talking to the controller; it is knowledge that makes him force Lenina away; and it is knowledge that eventually leads to his suicide.

The isolation from society also both connects and separates Marx and John the Savage; both are isolated because of their differences. In Brave New World, independence is considered an unnatural state (232). Both Bernard Marx and John the Savage are somewhat independent, mainly through their flaws that separate them from society. However, Bernard Marx grows depressed and upset with his predicament. Marxs dream of popularity and comfort often leads him to accuse others of wrongdoing and race for the top. When Marx discovers he is moving to Iceland, he blames the soma incident on others in order to save himself (226). Again differing from Bernard Marx, John the Savage works with what he has, often conducting very important tasks alone. After his part in the savage experiment, John is completely fed up with society. Instead of bending to the controllers wishes, he decides to go anywhere, [as long as he can] be alone (243). In the end, the isolation for both men is more extreme than what proceeded it; Bernard is sent to Iceland, and John tragically ends his own death.

In the end, the common themes that often connected Bernard Marx and John the Savage separated them. Reality, knowledge, and isolation brought down both individuals, but their endings differ vastly.

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