Brave New World

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Bernard Marx Character Analysis

An Alpha male who by some chance is physically much smaller than Alphas are supposed to be. Bernard's small stature has given him an inferiority complex. As a result, he feels like an outsider to World State society for that reason is more self-conscious and more of an individual than other citizens of the World State. This outsider status and individuality allows Bernard both to recognize and criticize the flaws of the World State. But his inferiority complex also makes him defensive, resentful, jealous, cowardly, and quick to boast.

Bernard Marx Quotes in Brave New World

The Brave New World quotes below are all either spoken by Bernard Marx or refer to Bernard Marx. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harper Perennial edition of Brave New World published in 2006.
Chapter 8 Quotes
"O brave new world," he repeated. "O brave new world that has such people in it. Let's start at once."
Related Characters: John (the Savage) (speaker), Bernard Marx, Helmholtz Watson, Lenina Crowne
Related Symbols: Shakespeare
Page Number: 139
Explanation and Analysis:

Bernard and Lenina have travelled to the Savage Reservation, where they have witnessed a man be whipped and met John, a white man dressed as a savage. John has told Bernard what he can remember of his life story, and Bernard promises to take John and his mother, Linda, back with him to the World State. When Bernard tells John he is not married to Lenina, John joyfully exclaims, "O brave new world that has such people in it," a line from Shakespeare's play The Tempest. Because he has been raised on the Savage Reservation, John's only knowledge of the outside world comes through the works of Shakespeare, and it is fitting that he quotes from The Tempest, a play that explores the themes of exploration, colonization, and civilization.

John's love for Lenina and excitement at his initial impressions of the World State highlight the superficial appeal of the society depicted in the novel. However, as Bernard points out when he responds that John should wait to see the "brave new world" before he gets too excited, beneath this superficial appeal lies a dystopian reality. Indeed, it will take the perspective of John––an outsider––to expose the "brave new world" for what it really is. 

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Chapter 10 Quotes
The greater a man's talents, the greater his power to lead astray. It is better that one should suffer than that many should be corrupted. Consider the matter dispassionately, Mr. Foster, and you will see that no offence is so heinous as unorthodoxy of behavior. Murder kills only the individual-and, after all, what is an individual?
Related Characters: The Director (Thomas) (speaker), Bernard Marx
Page Number: 148
Explanation and Analysis:

Bernard has taken Linda and John back to the World State, having received permission from Mustapha Mond on the basis that bringing them would be of scientific value. Unbeknownst to Bernard, however, the Director of the Hatchery has decided to exile him to Iceland, and in this passage the Director confides this plan to Henry Foster. The Director reasons that an intelligent, unsatisfied man like Bernard poses a threat to society, and that this easily justifies making an example of him to ward others away from deviance. The Director claims that there is "no offence so heinous as unorthodoxy of behavior," and that even murder is relatively defensible. Such reasoning, while strange and alarming to conventional wisdom, makes sense in a world in which there is no value placed on individual human life. 

Indeed, individuality is not merely undervalued by the World State, but crushed at every opportunity. While framing this rejection of individuality in the context of the "greater good" can make it seem like a positive, noble goal, the Director's words highlight the dark side of such ideology. When individual identity and unconventional behavior are seen as worthless and even dangerous, it becomes easy to justify even crimes as severe as murder. Furthermore, the Director's speech emphasizes the delicate balance of the caste system and its corresponding control over people's talent and intelligence. While smart, hard-working Alphas serve a useful role in society, the Director indicates that their "talents" must be tightly restricted in order to prevent them becoming aware of their own repression and rebelling. 

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Bernard Marx Character Timeline in Brave New World

The timeline below shows where the character Bernard Marx appears in Brave New World. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Technology and Control Theme Icon
...Foster for so long. Lenina decides to accept an offer to go on vacation with Bernard Marx, though she agrees with Fanny that Bernard is odd. (full context)
Individuality Theme Icon
In the men's changing room, Bernard listens as Henry and another man talk about "having" Lenina. Though this way of talking... (full context)
Chapter 4
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Technology and Control Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
Lenina gets into an elevator to go to the roof. She spots Bernard standing behind her former lover Benito Hoover. She accepts Bernard's invitation to go to the... (full context)
Individuality Theme Icon
Benito Hoover comes up to Bernard and remarks how pretty and "pneumatic" Lenina is. He offers the gloomy Bernard some soma.... (full context)
Individuality Theme Icon
Bernard is ashamed of his behavior. Because of his small size he feels like an outsider,... (full context)
Individuality Theme Icon
Bernard flies off to see his friend Helmholtz Watson. Helmholtz is the perfect Alpha-plus. He's stellar... (full context)
Individuality Theme Icon
Helmholtz and Bernard discuss the dilemma of their individuality (though Bernard doesn't mention his jealousy of Helmholtz's success... (full context)
Chapter 5
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
Bernard goes to his Solidarity Service. He's late and sits in the first empty chair he... (full context)
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Technology and Control Theme Icon
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
...do their work. The people call out in ecstasy to the coming "Great Being." Only Bernard hears nothing. He fakes his excitement. Loudspeakers start to chant "orgy-porgy," and an orgy starts. (full context)
Individuality Theme Icon
Later, the members of Bernard's solidarity group talk about how great the session was, how it had made them all... (full context)
Chapter 6
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Technology and Control Theme Icon
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
Lenina thinks about how strange Bernard is. For instance, he prefers talking in private to playing Electro-magnetic golf! She remembers one... (full context)
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Technology and Control Theme Icon
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
In the end they went back to Bernard's and slept together. But he said he wished they hadn't done it on their first... (full context)
Individuality Theme Icon
A few days later, Bernard asks the Director to sign the permit needed to visit the Savage Reservation. The Director... (full context)
Individuality Theme Icon
Bernard and Lenina travel to the Reservation, which is surrounded by an electric fence so no... (full context)
Chapter 7
Individuality Theme Icon
After the dance, Bernard and Lenina meet a young man who's dressed like an Indian, but has blond hair... (full context)
Individuality Theme Icon
Under Bernard's questioning, the man reveals that his mother was from the Other Place outside the reservation,... (full context)
Chapter 8
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
Outside Linda's house, Bernard and John talk. John recalls events in his life in a series of flashbacks: An... (full context)
Individuality Theme Icon
John tells Bernard he has always been terribly alone. Bernard says he has, too. John tells Bernard about... (full context)
Individuality Theme Icon
Bernard promises to take John back to the World State if he can get permission. Realizing... (full context)
Technology and Control Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
John asks if Bernard is married to Lenina. Bernard bursts out laughing. John is overjoyed, and quotes a line... (full context)
Chapter 9
Individuality Theme Icon
Bernard flies to Santa Fe and contacts Mustapha Mond, who agrees that there would be "scientific... (full context)
Individuality Theme Icon
Meanwhile, John goes to see Bernard and Lenina. There's no answer, and he's terrified they've left without him. He peeks through... (full context)
Chapter 10
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Technology and Control Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
...Hatchery, the Director discusses with Henry Foster his plan to make a public example of Bernard and send him to Iceland. Bernard enters the Fertilizing Room, where the Director had told... (full context)
Chapter 11
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Technology and Control Theme Icon
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
Bernard's connection to the Savage makes him popular and important. He takes full advantage, sleeping with... (full context)
Individuality Theme Icon
One night Bernard asks Lenina to take the Savage to the Feelies (movies where all the senses are... (full context)
Chapter 12
Individuality Theme Icon
At a party Bernard throws so people can meet the Savage, John refuses to leave his room. When it's... (full context)
Individuality Theme Icon
After the failure of his party, Bernard goes back to being his old self: nervous, alone, melancholy. The Savage and Helmholtz accept... (full context)
Chapter 15
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
Bernard and Helmholtz get a phone call telling them what the Savage is doing. They hurry... (full context)
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Technology and Control Theme Icon
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
...the air to quiet the Deltas. The police take Helmholtz and the Savage into custody. Bernard tries to slip away, but the police take him too. (full context)
Chapter 16
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Technology and Control Theme Icon
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
Helmholtz, John, and Bernard are brought to Mustapha Mond's study. Helmholtz is cheerful. Bernard is nervous and despairing. When... (full context)
Individuality Theme Icon
Bernard falls to his knees and begs not to be sent to an island. Mond summons... (full context)
Individuality Theme Icon
...island with bad weather—he thinks it will help him write. Helmholtz leaves to check on Bernard. (full context)
Chapter 18
Individuality Theme Icon
Helmholtz and Bernard return. Mond is gone. They hear the Savage retching in the bathroom. He tells them... (full context)