Brave New World

Bernard, John and Helmholtz compared

Why have we chosen to compare these three men?

Thought affects people's behavior, and people with different ideas will react differently in the same situation. The main characters in the novel have different personalities. We hope to find out the differences between their thoughts by comparing the differences between them, so as to better understand the conflict between the "civilized world" and the "barbaric world" and understand the connotation of the novel.


Due to his short stature, Marx is not as attractive to women as other Alpha, so he feels inferior psychologically, not very gregarious, and always has some weird ideas. For example, he said to the beautiful girl Lenina, "I would rather be myself. Although I am not very clever, I don't want to be someone else, even if it is very happy." The saying that "I would rather be myself" indicates that he has self-awareness and independence. Although Marx has produced self-consciousness and despised the value standard of the new world, he does not understand the meaning of self-consciousness. The root of his self-consciousness lies in physical defects and psychological inferiority. Marx does not understand the relationship between self-awareness and freedom and personal happiness. Once he has restored self-confidence through other means and overcomes the feeling of inferiority, he agrees with the value of the new world. Therefore, Marx is still a person who is constrained by the values of the new world. His departure from the value of the new world does not pose a serious threat to the new world. There are factors of resistance, but there is no courage to make a decision; when punished, he will ask for forgiveness. When he is alone, he will be self-sufficient.


As shown in chapter 15, Helmholtz already knows enough to identify what is wrong with the new world. Unlike Bernard, whose thoughts are probably influenced by his ulterior motives, Helmholtz can sympathize with John's cause despite his different cultural upbringing. Thus, he shows a stark difference from Bernard when John throws away the soma as he seeks the same ideal. In the world where instant gratification is the norm, he certainly is in the right direction to see what is wrong with their new world. This is quite evident when Helmholtz is reading Shakespeare's works. While he can appreciate the beauty of his work, certain notions like parents and other words feel ridiculous to him. Regardless, Helmholtz understands the new world can't provide the experience of genuine emotions and his decision at the end when he decides to be exiled to an island with a harsh weather reflects this. He certainly is different from the rest of the people in the new world, despite everything he had offered from the new world, he is still letting to part with them for the pursuit of his true self.


John refuses to give up his thought of literature and love. He keeps conflicting to the way the new world let people express love - only with sexual and childish pleasure. He has a trauma to his mother, so he never compromises. At the end, he finally kills himself. The moral concepts he learned from the savage reservation society and the moral concepts he saw in Shakespeare's novels make John think everyone in the World State throws themselves away into a deep hole of immorality as if they were devils who only crave sex. Afterwards, John, fed up with people from the World State, refuses to meet with them. He becomes familiar with Helmholtz with poetry by medium and the two men shouts for freedom at the soma distribution scene. Even though they became friends, Helmholtz is deeply disappointed as he does not understand and laughs at the concept of parent-child relationships and love in Shakespeare's novels. Anyway, seeing his mother suddenly die of drug addiction and act like a machine by society, John becomes completely disgusted with the World State and misses where he lived.

About the situation they confronted

After his mother died, John’s emotions went out of control. John was dissatisfied with Delta's numbness, hoping that they could understand and pursue freedom, and then he angrily threw soma out of the window. Later, Helmholtz joined John, and the two threw away a lot of soma and eventually cause the police to intervene. When two good friends clashed with the police, Bernard was very scared. He chose to withdraw, or even escape, instead of helping friends.

-From Chapter 15

Similarities and Differences

① Three: Disagreed with the rules of the new world and became friends

② Bernard & Helmholtz :

  • Same cultural background and similar caste(Alpha)
  • Didn't treat John as a savage
  • Both were considered as outcasts

③ Bernard & John:

  • Refused soma, and didn't feel the honor and happiness brought to them by the group

④ Helmholtz & John :

  • They both cared what people really need, not the one that the new world suggests
  • They had self-awareness and pursued individuality
  • Fought against rules with actions

⑤ Helmholtz :

  • Can comprehend John's thoughts, but still limited by his upbringing
  • Took a risk for his friend

⑥ Bernard :

  • Risk adverse, self-centered, complacent (compared to the other two)
  • Passive and remained as spectator

⑦ John :

  • Free from the new world's constraints
  • Incites riot, fueled by recent loss of his mother

Recommended video for easier understanding

Brave New World(1980)-Full Length Movie