Brave New World: Lenina vs Bernard
Aldous Huxley’s novel, Brave New World, is a horrible fantasy that predicts the future. Human beings are cloned in groups of 96. Mothers and Fathers no longer exist because children are raised in centers where they are brainwashed and conditioned to do as they are told. Free will is extinct but the people are brainwashed into thinking they are happy.
Many characters are present in this story. Each character has a specific role in helping the reader understand the concept of the novel. Early in the book, the reader will come across two characters that are very opposite. Bernard Marx, at one end of the spectrum, grows disgusted by the society of the world. He realizes that he is a prisoner even though everyone around him says that he is free. Bernard sees through the brainwashing, the lies, and the illusions. This is most evident after he over hears another group of males talking about a female as though she were a piece of meat rather than a human being:
“Talking about her as though she were a bit of meat.” Bernard ground his teeth. “Have her here, have her there. Like mutton. Degrading her to so much mutton.” He would have liked to go up to them and hit them in the face – hard, again and again…(Page 45-46)
Bernard is able to distinguish between implanted, brainwashed feelings and real feelings from the heart. He knows that the world is wrong, he knows that women are more than just creatures or meat, but because he is the only one who feels that way he has a hard time proving his opinion.
On the other end of the spectrum there’s Lenina Crowne. She’s over-enthusiastic about the way she conforms to the rules. She is easily conditioned by the brainwashing and is rather happy about it. Lenina is ignorant because she acts and feels the way she does without knowing any different and without caring. She cannot see through the illusions like Bernard can. Once or twice, Bernard even tries explaining to her that she is being tricked, but because the lies have affected her so deeply she thinks that something is wrong with Bernard. She thinks that he is mental.
Bernard asks Lenina Crowne out on a date. During the date, Lenina wants to go play a game and then have sex because that is how she was brainwashed and conditioned but Bernard has a different idea. He wants to talk and then go for a walk in the Lake District. This is when we see brainwashing effect on Lenina come out:
Lenina asks, “Talking? But what about?” Walking and talking – that seemed a very odd way of spending an afternoon… (Page 91)
“All the same,” Lenina insisted. “I do like him. He has such awfully nice hands. And the way he moves his shoulders – that’s very attractive. “But I wish he weren’t so odd.” (Page 94)
These characters sharply contrast to show both ends of the fantasy world. Bernard is intellectual and passionate while Lenina is ignorant and cares only about the worldly things in life. Bernard is used to show the reader that human life is actually valuable despite the blurring identities created by the society. Lenina also shows this but in a different way. She shows us how absurd it would be to act the way she does. Lenina’s ignorance strengthens the readers view against the fantasy world. The fantasy world is disgusting and should never be allowed to come true.
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