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Fahrenhiet 451 Essay, Research Paper
One such author, Ray Bradbury, utilized this concept in his work,
Fahrenheit 451, a futuristic look of a man and his role in society.
Bradbury utilizes the luxuries of life in America today, in addition
to various occupations and technological advances, to show what life
could be like if the future takes a drastic turn for the worse. He
turns man’s best friend, the dog, against man, changes the role of
public servants and changes the value of a person.
In Fahrenheit 451 Guy Montag, the main character, is able to see
through the government and the official policies of his society. He
does so by gradually beginning to question certain aspect of society
which most simply accept as fact. Montag’s job as a fireman serves as
a setting to show how many people passively accept the absurdity of
their society. Instead of rushing to put out fires, as firemen today
do, Montag rushes to start fires, burning the books and homes of
people reported to have books. This was considered by most people to
be a respectable profession. But on different occasions Montag took a
book out of burning homes and would from time to time read them. From
this, he begins to to question the values of his society.
Montag’s marriage also serves a setting to contrast passive
acceptance versus questioning of society’s values. His marriage is
not the happy kind that couples today experience but more like a
coexistence. He and his wife live together and he supports her, though
he apparently neither loves her a great deal or expects her to love
This relationship and living arrangement, with its lack of love,
is Bradbury’s way of showing what life could be like if people not
only stop communicating but stop thinking and choosing, thus loosing
control over their lives. Montag and his wife continue to live
together though people in that situation today would not hesitate to
terminate such a relationship. Montag’s wife apparently accepts this
relationship because it is normal for the society in which she lives.
Montag’s wife, and many other characters, escape through
watching a sophisticated form of television. This television system
covers three of the walls of the Montag’s TV room (they can’t afford
to buy the screen to cover the fourth wall), has a control unit that
allows the watchers to interact with the characters on the program and
another unit that inserts Mrs. Montag’s name into specific places,
thus creating the image they the characters are actually conversing
with them. Montag’s wife, having only a few friends and ones she
rarely sees, spends much of her day in this room, watching a program
called “The Family”, a government sponsored program that shows
the viewers what life at home should be like.
The problem with this is that Montag’s wife takes the program as a
substitute for reality. She is almost addicted to the program, much as
people were with soma in Brave New World. Bradbury uses this
television and it’s programs as a way of showing the escape he is
worried people will look for in the future. Without actively
questioning society’s values, he is concerned that people will look
for ways to idly spend their time.
But like Marx, Montag chooses not to take part in this addiction.
By abstaining, he can see the affects it’s use has on the people
around him, much as Marx and more importantly John the Savage saw in
their culture. Both authors try to show that with life made easier by
strong government control and a lack of personal involvement people
will no longer spend their time thinking, questioning or developing
their own ideas.
Through these various diversions from normal behavior in society,
Marx, John the Savage and Guy Montag are able to see the truths behind
the societies they live in and are able to learn about themselves. And
though their discoveries meant that their lives would be changed
forever, the authors succeeded in showing that the key to humanity
lies in thinking and questioning. These men found themselves through
their own discoveries, much as Bradbury and Huxley hope others will
Allen, Walter The Modern Novel. Dutton, 1964
May, Keith M. Aldous Huxley. Paul Elek Books Ltd., 1972
Wolfheim, Donald The Universe Makers. Harper and Row, 1971
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