Fahrenheit 451

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Bradbury depicted a society in which people had no influence on their opinions and were not permitted to infer from scriptures for enlightenment. The author envisioned a world in which there was no elegance and the government dominated all structures. Books were not tolerated in society to the point of being burned. This paper would investigate why books have little merit in his novel Fahrenheit 451.
In the world depicted in Fahrenheit 451, knowledge was withheld from the inhabitants, creating mental illness (McGiveron 245). Beatty says, “We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the constitution says, but everyone made equal. . . A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it” (Bradbury 65). Take the shot from the weapon. Breach man’s mind.In the conversation between Beatty and Montag, it is revealed that the people initiated the censorship. Beatty said that advancement in technology brought chaos among people because they never bothered about education and the truth. They cared about their social life. In the novel, the educated people caused pressurized some people; hence inferiority against schooling was created among the people (Aggelis 2). Intellectualism became a weapon when the fear began to grow among people. They believed that by hiding knowledge, censorship would bring joy. Suppression brought discounted among people and did not fix the problems that existed in the society (Eller 204). The restriction of books is associated with many tragedies, For instance, Mildred attempts suicide by overdosing herself with sleeping pills.Besides, Mildred’s friend Mrs.Phelps pretends that she was happy with the situation, but when Montag reads a poem to her, she cried (Bradbury 66). Her response reflected the agony of many people who thought that they would be happy without reading materials and it would be a good life while on the other hand, they missed the knowledge and wisdom from the books.

Beatty was good in literature, but was disturbed and continuously told Montag to kill her with the flamethrower. Mrs. Phelps, Beatty and Mildred all believed that their lives were full of happiness, however; looking closely at their lives censorship did not bring joy to them. For instance, the media gave false information that Montag died, but the reality was that he had escaped from the government forces (Conor 409). People were ignorant, and they accepted wrong information from the media and the government. Citizens became manipulated by the government because they lacked knowledge. Mildred’s friend, Mrs. Bowles having voted for the president because he was good looking also showed the naivety and ignorance of most of the people in the society (Milburn 4). Since she did not have enough information about the politics of the country, she decided to vote for a candidate with a good appearance.

Bradbury also intended to illustrate to the modern world how the pursuit of happiness could lead to poor decision making, ignorance and empty living. In the society that Montag lived in, people were driven by the desire to look for entertainment and amusement to escape from reality through censorship and technology (Bradbury 67). For example, in the novel, Mildred was addicted to the television show, which made her feel as if she was in her world. Furthermore, Mildred liked listening to a seashell, the iPod of the modern world (Eller, 205). Her actions showed that she desired to escape from her reality. Mildred tried to do so by keeping her mind on the television from where she got happiness and entertainment. She later suffers from a severe effect that she did not acknowledge. At the beginning of the novel, Mildred to commit suicide several times. It was revealed that she had a mental illness. Several other people went through a suicidal dilemma as stated by the hospital operator (Aggelis 4). He said that the hospital had received nine or ten times a night. It was an evidence of how profligate and sedentary lifestyle of people deteriorated their health.


The most prominent theme in the novel was technology, and it was the ultimate cause of corruption. Technology was responsible for the replacement of literature, intellectualism, and curiosity in the society. It was the main reason why the government burned books. Beatty told Montag in their conversation that technology made the people lazy and inactive because they wanted to obtain information in the shortest time through reading digests, short versions of novels, and watched a movie (Bradbury 69). Books lost value, and people did not care when the books were being burnt (McGiveron 246). Besides, the novel showed how technology had destroyed family relationships. For example, Montag asked Mildred to turn off the television so that they could have a conversation, but she replied by saying that the show she was watching was her family (Zipes 5).She became obsessed with the television show, considering the characters in the show as her family.The television show captured her mind, hence Mildred found her husband boring and annoying. Mildred’s friend, Mrs. Bowles is also similarly affected because she did not care about her children. She was happy only seeing them for just three days a month, the period in which her children had a holiday (Conor 409). The technology had messed up the mother-to-child relationship. Mrs. Bowles liked the television more than her son.She compared her children to laundry as if they were only duties to be carried out within the house. A more violent and destructive side of technology was shown in the novel when the government used a mechanical hound as a killing machine to capture people who were not loyal and not abiding by the law (Eller 205). The device scared Montagmany times and almost killed him. It was also dangerous because its memory could be set and used to kill someone.Bradbury was trying to open the minds of people because he envisioned a situation where technology would come to rule over people (Aggelis 6). Another destructive instance of technology being embraced in the society was shown by the introduction of nuclear war.

Bradbury was right when he feared that one-day technology would take over books and people will never be interested in the knowledge that was contained in writings. Bradbury wondered about the happiness that people got from things like television and computers. The books were no longer valued because the information could be retrieved the shortest time possible from the internet and the media. Bradbury wondered whether people had more fun at home to the extent that they had forgotten what was happening in the world. He used the idea of books to create an impression that the ban indicated people did not accept the facts (Conor 412). It was a scary idea when Montag realized that most of the books had knowledge.

At the end of the novel, a bomb destroys the whole city and killed everyone leaving no trace of property. It was a great reminder to the modern society that technology was capable of destroying humankind and should be used carefully (Milburn, 4). Bradbury’s central message central message was that if the technology did not exist, it could result in Montag’s society. Through the novel, Bradbury was teaching and warning people of the modern nation (Zipes 5). The ignorance and the depressions that Mildred and other characters underwent demonstrated that censorship made life difficult and painful.

Power of Conformity in the Society

Bradbury’s story also reflected about the conformity society that people lived during that time. In the story, no one could be unique and original because the books did not exist to allow people to share what they had in mind for the rest of the people in the society (Eller 206). However, some characters thought differently, and this led to conflict. In the story, Bradbury showed how some people such as Mildred, Clarisse, and Montag thought differently. These characters had their disputes which reflected and illustrated the chaos that emerged in the society. Arguments from within showed the transformation that occurred within them. Clarisse was a curious seventeen-year-old girl who got chased from school. Clarisse acted differently from other characters because she believed in her opinions and wanted to be original in her way (McGiveron, 247). Clarisse asked Montag whether he always read the books he burns. Her questions revealed that she stood against the law and believed that texts must be understood and not ignored. Clarisse was of the opinion that if the society were reading the books instead of burning them, people would not have been fixed minded and ignorant (Aggelis 7). Society in her age would have been better, and people could not have killed themselves. She claimed chaos could not have existed if schools were not shorted and discipline was the key to most institutions. Clarisse was thoughtful, deliberate minded and was brave top act differently from other people. When compared to Mildred, Clarisse stands for the truth stood for justice and were hopeful that it would come a time when the society would be better (Bradbury 70). Mildred, on the other hand, focused on the destructive side of technology.

Montag served his society for ten years while doing some significant duties without questioning (Conor 410). He is one of the characters in the story who had a hard time because the government forces arrested him for not burning books. After speaking to Clarisse, Montag became more thoughtful about his society. His character developed gradually in the story up to a point where he developed a conflict within himself and began thinking about the books (Milburn 9). His view about the books changed after the conversation with Clarisse.Montag was of the opinion that it took a lot of effort for an author to write a book only to be burnt without good reason. He began to appreciate the knowledge that the books had reflected the chaos that was in the society because of his attitude towards the book (Eller 205). Montag believed that the books contained the solution to the corrupt minded community.

Mildred is another character that Bradbury used to bring out the theme of individuality and conformity. She was always in her world because most of the time used to sitting in the parlor and talking to them. She led a simple and easy routine life. Her attempt to commit suicide revealed how weak the society was at that time. Technology ruined life and Mildred was one of the victims because she became mentally ill as a result of being glued to the television most of the time and leasing a sedentary lifestyle (Conor 410). Her thinking skills were affected which resulted in her lacking conscience. For instance, she never regretted or cared about the old woman who burnt herself with the books and died. She thinks that the woman deserved to die. Mildred also refused to read the books that Montag recommended her. Mildred’s intentions were not to be selfish, but her ignorance and addiction to technology made her acting in that manner (Bradbury 72). Mildred left Montag in a difficult situation while in the real sense they were supposed to help each other because they were family.


Bradbury also used an analogy to inform the readers about a society lost in technology and its effects. The Hearth was used in the story to represent a home. It was a fireplace in the house that brought warmth during cold seasons. Due to the effects of technology on Montag’s relationship, he felt that his home was like a deserted mausoleum which was cold (Aggelis 8).The feeling he had was because of his wife, Mildred, who concentrated on the television, forgetting about their family life.The Salamander was an animal that was believed to live in fire, and they were vital for the existence of the world (Zipes 12). It was a symbol of the helmet of the firefighters. It meant that the city could not survive without them. The salamander also stood for maturity, transformation, and decay. Decay meant destruction in the novel. The fireman’s job was to destroy books, hence leaving the society which was not morally upright (Conor 412). The maturing aspect was associated with the case of Montag, who came to realize the beauty of having books in the society. If he were not working as a firefighter, he would not have learned that books had no harm to people and their existence was more important than the technology that people enjoyed (Eller 209). Destruction was another aspect that the salamander symbolized in connection with the duties of the firemen (McGiveron 249). Their work was to burn down houses and people’s belongings. Phoenix was a representation of divine presence. Bradbury used phoenix in the novel to describe rebirth. It symbolized a new beginning and that once something was born, it was to fall. It explained the situation when the city was bombed. The ashes that were formed after the town had burnt were considered the life of Phoenix (Milburn 10). Bradbury wanted the reader to understand that the city was reduced to ashes symbolizing a new beginning. Fire in the novel was a symbol of violence, jealousy, fear, and death. Mirror in the story stood for self-understanding of seeing self clearly (Zipes 15). It also meant a medium of alternative realities. At the end of the book, Granger said that they must factor for mirrors so that they could look at themselves. It meant that they were to look at themselves and discover their inner personalities. In the story, Montag looked at himself in the mirror of life so that he could reflect on himself. Montag did not realize that he was unhappy until he looked in the mirror and noticed that he lived a miserable life.Through the mirror, Montag began to understand his life and the surrounding. If all characters in the story reflected on their experiences as Montag did, they would have followed his actions. If Mildred had not seen herself in the mirror, she would not have seen a happily married woman. She would have seen a woman who is depressed and idolizes the television (McGiveron 253). The people in the novel did not take time to look at their lives; hence the society became a dystopia.

Bradbury also used sand as a symbol to represent truth and knowledge. It also described time and how it passed. It meant the remains of the former structures and buildings in the city after got bombed (Conor 414). It also represented the Jewish-Muslim beliefs in the creation of humanity. The sieve in the novel shows how the government retained information and misled people with lies. The strainer also showed how Montag did not grasp the meaning of books when he read them because there were so many gaps in his knowledge (Eller 245). Blood was also used in the novel to represent how lessons that the book taught got held from them. Symbolism was used to bring into the picture what happened in the society.


The government had imposed itself on people and ruled on tyrannical policies that burned the reading of the book. Therefore the society was full of people unable to act independently as the government had brought the culture of the people getting the information they needed without efforts. People were not operating from their will. Books were the only remedy for the society to restore its free-thinking state. The burning of the books by the firemen indicated the destruction that people underwent. Knowledge from the books taken away, leaving people with no guide to daily living other than the manipulative government.

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Works Cited

Aggelis, Steven Louis. "Conversations with Ray Bradbury." (2003).


Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451: A Novel. Simon and Schuster, 2012.


Connor, George. "Spelunking with Ray Bradbury: The Allegory of the Cave in Fahrenheit 451." Extrapolation 45.4 (2004): 408-418.


Eller, Jonathan R., and William F. Touponce. Ray Bradbury: The Life of Fiction. Kent State University Press, 2004.


Milburn, Morgan Grace. "The Good, the Bad and the Useless: The perception of books in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, and Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story." (2016).


McGiveron, Rafeeq O. "What “Carried the Trick”? Mass Exploitation and the Decline of Thought in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451." Extrapolation37.3 (1996): 245-256.


Zipes, Jack. "Mass degradation of humanity and massive contradictions in Bradbury’s vision of America in Fahrenheit 451." Bloom, Modern Critical Interpretations (2008): 3-18.


July 24, 2021



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