A Critique of Fahrenheit 451
Fahrenheit 451, first published in 1953, is a novel by Ray Bradbury. It describes a futuristic society in which books are outlawed. The main theme of the novel is censorship and forced conformity on the people living in the society. Books are forbidden. In any case a book is found in the society, it is burned and its owner arrested. The title of the book symbolizes the temperature at which the paper of a book catches fire. The book was transcribed in the era of McCarthyism. During this period, Americans were wrongly accused of destabilizing the government of the United States of America. It was also a period of cold war and television was the major form of mass communication. The book tackles the leveling effect of consumerism and reductionism. It portrayed how political deals and advertising industry destroyed human individuality and creativity. The book is a work of fiction. The poetic distinction of the author as well as his application of an alien world and visionary technology is clearly portrayed in this piece of literature. This essay makes a critical analysis of Fahrenheit 451.
Summary of Fahrenheit 451
Fahrenheit 451 highlights a series of events in a fictitious futuristic society. The story focuses on the spiritual and emotional development of Guy Montag, who is a fireman of the 24th century. Contrary to the normal fireman, the fireman in Fahrenheit 451 plays the responsibility of starting a fire instead of extinguishing it. The government carries out the mandate of seeking out, and eradicating books since it is against the law of the land to possess a book. The book portrays a world where owning a book is a capital crime that can only be punished by death. Montag together with his colleagues have been mandated to enforce the government regulation of eradicating books. This team has the authority to burn homes that are suspected of having books. These brutal acts together with other unfortunate events make Montag to become disillusioned, and he quits his profession (Bloom 7).
Surprisingly, Montag reforms, though he was the main player in the burning of books. One specific incident that had a great effect on changing the character of Montag is his interaction with a teenage girl called Clarisse McClellan, whose childlike mannerism initiates a state of consciousness in Montag. The suicide attempt of Montag’s wife as well as a reflection on their sterile relationship and the molestation of a woman who refused to surrender her books also contributed to the sudden change in the life of Montag. The chief of the firemen, Beaty, clearly explains the role of the burning mission in the society after it was apparent that Montag was in extreme despair following the violent death of Clarisse (Bradbury 163).
Fahrenheit 451 clearly brings out the concept of censorship. According to this book, it was illegal to read and own a book. Books were openly burned, and their owners condemned to death. The books showcase a future society that uses firemen to destroy the book with the aim of discouraging the society from reading books. Censorship is the main theme presented in Fahrenheit 451. The impact of censorship is demonstrated by behavior, thought and submission. Since people often tend to act as their peers in various ways, censorship in appearance has become a dominant form of submission in the current world. In the novel, the firemen have a slogan to go along with their routine of burning books (Bradbury 8). It was against the law in the society to read books. Although Montag had read the books that he burnt, he told Clarisse that it was against the law to read the books. Just like Montag, many people often try to conform to the standards of the society. The novel portrays behavior as a negative form of submission in the current society. Talented and gifted people are prevented from excelling since they are not allowed to express their abilities.
The novel clearly shows how the government can prevent the success of its people by limiting their access to information that might be important for their development. Preventing people from reading is a way of preventing them from thinking. When people are allowed to read books they would start to question the way the government is governing them and prevent it from controlling them like puppets (Bloom 13).
The novel shows a futuristic society where submission of thought is highly valued. There is a battle of having personal freedom. The book portrays the impact of denying men the opportunity to express their thoughts or remember their past. Although Clarisse was an intelligen