Brave New World is a dystopian novel written by Aldous Huxley which has a society that is heavily controlled by its government and leader Mustapha Mond. Mustapha Mond has a process where he creates his people from and it basically forces everyone who isn’t an Alpha or a Beta to just be placeholders in the society. He also separates his people into different social classes known as the Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons and the people in Brave New World are content with the class they are in and do not question it. They do this in a variety of ways such as Hypnopaedia, separating them into different classes and forcing them to be complacent with their class. But when a character like Bernard shows up to the society he causes problems because he is a runt when compared to other alpha pluses and others see him and question how they aren’t alpha pluses. Bernard is then exiled by the others in the society because he does not fit in the same mold as all the other Alphas. Bernard although seen as a weirdo and exiled does end up making a couple of friends that enrich his experience along the way.
Edward Said is a Palestinian American critic and his article titled “Reflections on Exile” is about exile, and what it does to people who have been exiled or are exiled. Said talks about how we are curious and might want to explore what it would be like to be exiled, but we must also see how much of a bad experience it would be. Especially because Said describes it as an unhealable rift forced between someone and something or someone and someone else. He believes it would be a sad experience as you have been cut off from your home, or special place. Without this special place you might become extremely saddened and changed, but Said also believes that being exiled is an enriching experience. By writing this in his article Said states that if a person is exiled they will be at one of their lowest points ever and therefore if they are allowed back into their special place they will be enriched by the experience because they will know that they do not want to go back to that same place.
Bernard Marx is one of Brave New World’s main protagonist and he is an Alpha plus which are the most elected people in the novel. Alphas, and Betas only interact with each other because if they interacted with the people below them others in their social class would basically exile them. Although Bernard Marx is an alpha plus which the best of the best he is still directly exiled by others because he about 8 centimeters smaller than the rest of the alphas, and he also acts weirder than most. “But whereas the physically defective Bernard had suffered all his life from the consciousness of being separate” . (Huxley 45) His entire life Bernard has been outcast and thrown to the side, isolated because he was different from everyone else. Although the society didn’t throw him out their place they practically stripped away his home the “World State” which is what Said believes to be a form of exile. He is allowed to live in the society but he does so alone, isolated, and when others see him they know not to talk to him or they too will be cut off from the “World State Society”. “In the lift, on their way up to the changing rooms, Henry Foster and the Assistant Director of Predestination rather pointedly turned their backs on Bernard Marx from the Psychology Bureau: averted themselves from that unsavoury reputation.” (Huxley 25) This quote is a clear example of how Bernard Marx is exiled, because while in an elevator with Bernard Marx these two people decided to completely ignore Bernard and act almost as if he wasn’t there. In the beginning of Brave New World Bernard’s exile showed how alienated he was from the others in the “World State” as they just acted as if he was invisible and didn’t exist. “It is the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home: its essential sadness can never be surmounted” (Said 173). Everything that Said says is exile in this quote is everything that happened to Bernard in the beginning of the book.
Bernard isn’t completely exiled throughout the book though as he meets characters like John, Helmholtz, and Lenina whom do not cast him aside like the rest in the “World State” do. John does not cast Bernard aside because he does not know any better seeing that he himself has already been an outcast of the “World State”. John accepts Bernard as he is because he does not see the baggage that comes with him because he is ignorant to the fact that Bernard is a runt and a weirdo. Ultimately John and Helmholtz come to the realization that Bernard was only a weirdo because of his conditioning gone wrong. He wouldn’t be such a weirdo if he had been able to better connect with the condition he went through as a child, he might still be exiled due to his height but at least he wouldn’t be socially awkward. Lenina truly meets Bernard when they went to the Savage Reservations and even after this she acknowledges his presence when asked if she knew him.
“Do you know Bernard Marx?” she asked in a tone whose excessive casualness was evidently forced.
Fanny looked startled. “You don’t mean to say .?”
“Why not? Bernard’s an Alpha Plus. Besides, he asked me to go to one of the Savage Reservations with him. I’ve always wanted to see a Savage Reservation.”
“But his reputation?”
“What do I care about his reputation?”
“They say he doesn’t like Obstacle Golf.”
“They say, they say,” mocked Lenina.
“And then he spends most of his time by himself-alone.” There was horror in Fanny’s voice. (Huxley 32). This quote is the biggest piece of evidence of how badly Bernard is exiled because Fanny is desperately trying to understand how someone could befriend Bernard, she even tries to make points about why she probably shouldn’t be around Bernard and how he has a “reputation”. Lenina even mocks Fanny because she doesn’t even know Bernard but still talks about his reputation. Here Lenina further reinforces that she doesn’t see Bernard as weird and doesn’t exile him like the other members of the “World State” do. The other members even reinforce that the only reason they exile him is because of his “reputation” they have no reason other than not wanted to be exiled themselves by speaking to Bernard. This is probably one of the only enriching experiences from his exile because he’s been exiled his whole life so finally being accepted by someone, and being spoken about by someone boosted Bernard and he rode his rise to popularity for as long as he could.
Bernard in the end is unable to heal up from the rift of being exiled as he never was about to get over the sadness of being exiled. Although Bernard had a couple of uplifting moments through his exile mostly due to him meeting and befriending Lenina, John, and Helmholtz he was never able to stay popular like then and in turn was exiled yet again but this time from his friends as well. He exiling was extremely alienating but that is not to say that it was not slightly enriching. It was slightly enriching because he was able to make friends with Lenina , John, and Helmholtz and he was also popular for a little bit but his exile was ultimately too alienating and drove Bernard to want to be accepted so he became his own worst nightmare.
Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. United Kingdom, Chatto & Windus, 1932
Said, Edward. Reflections on exile and other essays. Grants Books, 2012
...(download the rest of the essay above)