Book Censorship as Portrayed in Fahrenheit 451 by Bradbury

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Literature educates the world

Literature educates the world widely through books. We get to learn new ideas, about our environment and they show us integral part of our experiences. Best books normally deal with vital contemporary themes and controversial topics. Bradbury in his book, Farenheit 451 underscores this important role of books in our lives. He sensitizes people on the fore coming period when books shall be censored for various reasons. As seen in our society today, we can conquer that Bradbury was very right to pass his prophecy on book censorship. Some of the reasons may include; violence and drugs, sexual situations, religious blasphemy, political controversy, racial issues among others.

Book Censorship

First, Bradbury portrays a society that has been taken over by the government in terms of literature. People are denied the chance not only to read but also to own books. The book owners are severely punished. Their books plus houses are painfully burned down. This kind of society is first approaching and soon it is going to be here with us. The signs are clear and imminent. For instance, Of Mice and Men

by John Steinbeck

are currently under trial by parents of schools in Idoh and Carolina. The parents claim the book reviews dark themes. Besides, they say it contains coarse language (Stephen 42).

Consequences of Book Censorship

Further, in sending his warning, Bradbury showcases in his book dire consequences faced by citizens because of the book censorship. The bomb strikes and finds majority unaware just because they have been denied freedom to information by the government. The entire city is destroyed. Coincidentally, those who had memorized book including Montag survive. Fehrenheit 451 by Bradbury states, “Montag and the group are injured and dirtied, but manage to survive the shock wave.’’ Bradbury brings this coincidence in order to emphasize the need to conserve books. He equates book knowledge to life. He tries to stress the need for everyone to memorize books by coining characters who had memorized books to survive the bomb tragedy in the city.

Importance of Sustaining Pressure to Conserve Books

Looking at censorship more as a theme, Bradbury in his novel, Fahrenheit 451 portrays few likeminded citizens who are able to sustain pressure from the government or the society around us in order to conserve books. Through Faber in a conversation with Montag, "It's not books you need; it's some of the things that once were in books” (Bradbury 263). Faber also adds that, people need "The right to carry out actions based on what we learn [from books]. . . .” Through this conversation, we get an assertion that permits the exiled group to memorize various books with hope of a better society tomorrow, a society with freedom of reading and readership. Bradbury goes ahead amidst his warning to us to echo need for self-sacrifice in order to preserve the information contained in the books. Through the characters of the old woman who Montag comes across one night of their normal fireworks, she opts to burn herself down with the books if that is what may please the authorities (Bradbury 20).

Bradbury's Prophecy on Book Censorship

“The woman knelt among the books, touching the drenched leather and cardboard, reading the gilt titles with her fingers while her eyes accused Montag.

"You can't ever have my books," she said.

"You know the law," said Beatty. "Where's your common sense? None of those books agrees with each other (Bradbury 73).

Censorship of books is imminent in our times today. In his book, Fahreinheit 451,

Bradbury sends a clear warning

that books will be censored by authorities especially if we allow it. For instance, Montag accepts to work for Beatty who orders them around to houses that should be burned down. The alarm comes at night to summon them to their evil duty. Actually, the novelist uses darkness to symbolize this evil act. The drama continues until Montag finds himself ordered to burn down his own house. In Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury (26) asserts, "Any man's insane who thinks he can fool the government and us." Captain Beatty uses this illustration to show the abject oppression the government subjects her people to. It was deemed a great offence for one to read and keep books. This reveals gross agonic effects of ignorance imposed on people by the authority. The mind away from books becomes enslaved so that man cannot reason but to embrace blindly the ways of the authority. However, Bradbury tactfully makes Montag resists so that he begins to find knowledge about books. Actually, it is what leads him to hiding the bible from the old woman’s house thereby causing a tragic fate when his house is burnt down.

Fear of Authority and the Power of Knowledge

Close review of Fahrenheit 451 also reveals the fear of the authority on the influence contained in the power of knowledge. For example, in the character of Clarisse McClellan, we see an outpouring natural teenage who is run on by speeding car. The girl is disliked by both teachers and peers. She is knowledgeable and indifference about technology. Her death explains the radicalism with which some writers have been handled in the modern society. Besides, her dislike by the teachers further explains the contempt society renders to authors who give dissenting themes from what the authority expects. Bulwer-Lytton (32) says, “The pen is mightier than the sword...” This quote gives reasons why one may conclude that those who discriminated against her murdered McClellan. It is obvious that in this era of book censorship, any well-read person would be a threat to the government therefore leading to the credence of McClellan being murdered.

Indifference to Technology

It is also proper to observe her indifference to technology. In away the novelist portrays McClellan in this manner in order to pass a warning to the youths who tend to love literature in the media more compared to books. Indeed our modern world is in the edge of computer inventions and technology is the order of the day. Before this era back in 1953, Bradbury sent a warning to us that there is a need for man to love book and be prepared even to die for its knowledge. Therefore it is only proper that the youths should embrace McClellan’s attitude and defend it with blood and sword.

Dystopian Society Predicted

The utopian society provided in Fahrenheit 451 is just indeed a prediction of our future today. The government has become so concerned with the information passed through the media and books that it wants to control it bit by bit. It wants to ensure whatever information reaching the people is the kind of information that they want. Just like the government established a monitoring firehouse to oppress her citizens who read in the Fahrenheit 451 is the same way our society today has become oppressive of writers and readership. For instance, the literary writers like Ngugi wa Thiongo, an African writer who now resides in America was exiled from his home country because of his works that were deemed dissenting to the authority.

Traitors and Obstacles in the Fight for Change

We also see that in the need to embrace change and freedom, there are traitors and obstacles on the way. Looking at Bradbury’s portrayal of Montag’s wife who opts to betray him, we assert the validity of the statement here. She is an example of parents for example who would petition a literary book introduced in schools for study just because they claim the content of the book is not suitable to the learners. Contrary, such parents should know the fight for intellectual freedom begins at home, as a result should help advocate for the book freedom rather than help censor book. This assertion was also echoed by the words of John F. Kennedy, “If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all—except the censor. We must know all the facts, hear all the alternatives, and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors. For the Bill of Rights is the guardian of our security as well as our liberty” (Schauer 1256).

Government Propagates Censorship by Hiding the Truth

The government portrayed by Bradbury, propagates the state condition to the citizens as the books are censored. The government uses the media to hide the truth that the war is looming in the city. The nation is at war and the civilians live meaningless lives but the state does not let her citizens know this painful truth. In giving this society, Bradbury is concerned about the people’s welfare and sounds a warning to us that we should value knowledge from the books. According to him, we should not allow ourselves to be kept away from the reality but should make a choice to know the truth just like Montag finally decided to make a choice.

Government Control of Military and Economy

Bradbury also coins a society where the government has full control of the military and the economy. Faber for instance, urges the citizens to buy wall parlor televisions. People then end up spending their money in buy drinks and luxuries as the government is strengthened economically.


In conclusion, the novel sounds a real future warning of book censorship that every citizen should be prepared to fight. The consequences are gross just as has been illustrated by Bradbury in his novel, Fahrenheit 451. Based on the emerging issues like exiling of authors, killing and other injustices, we should all watch out to defend knowledge in books for knowledge is power.

Works Cited

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. , 2013. Print.

Bulwer-Lytton, Edward. Richelieu; Or, the Conspiracy: A Play in Five Acts. Harper and Brothers, 1839.

Stephen, Martin. Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck. Harlow: Longman, 2010. Print.

Schauer, Frederick. "Towards An Institutional First Amendment."Minn. L. Rev. 89 (2004): 1256.

November 24, 2023




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