About Fahrenheit 451

The stunning work Fahrenheit 451 aims to show how humankind has a strong need to deny what it knows. The story takes place during the Cold War era and reveals a number of timeless truths about censorship and how it relates to how the media affects society. The book, which was written in 1953, extrapolates that time period's emerging infatuation with television and running away from reality. The book's themes—misperception, betrayal, and media consumption—are connected to the reality of our society as it is today (Scott 2). In spite of the world being bombarded with amazing information, the society chooses to isolate itself from it, which has devastating effects. Don’t look to be saved in any one thing, person, machine or library, do your bit of saving and if you drown, at least die knowing you were headed for shore (Bradbury 68).

Guy Montag, the lead character in the book, is described by the author to work as a fireman with a service number of 451. “With his symbolic helmet numbered 451 on his stolid head”. Ironically, he is portrayed to start out fires “he flicked the igniter and the house jumped up in a gorging fire,” rather than putting them out by burning the last few books remaining in the society based on the misconception that reading is dangerous (12).

He wanted above all, like the old joke, to shove a marshmallow on a stick furnace while flapping pigeon-winged books that went up in sparkling whirls with a fiery smile still gripped by his face muscles (2).

Throughout the novel, Montag struggles with his existence that eventually makes him flee his oppressive censored society and join the revolution of underground intellectuals (Hammel 1). Seeing the atomic destruction of his city, Montag is more than ever dedicated to rebuilding the cultural and literate society. “The first bomb struck, perhaps who would ever know” (42). However, after his wife half-heartedly attempts suicide and one of their neighbors is killed, Montag finally starts to question all that he had done during his lifetime and begins to question ways of the world. “My wife, my wife poor Millie, what is wrong with the earth.” (41) He realized later on that he was taking huge peril to save what he had destroyed before and the impending power that lies in books which were perceived to be dangerous. “But even when we had the books we didn’t use what we got out of them” (68).

Media consumption, which is an underlying message portrayed by the author is most definitely alluding to the reader. The books burning, symbolically represent the control of information towards the society described by the fireman’s mantra. Fahrenheit 451 retains a spark of creativity, courage, and curiosity with the author portraying the human characteristics as the seeds of hope to which one can eventually rise from misconception and from the civilization’ ashes to become aware of their true surrounding. Bradbury intends to nurture these characteristics to the reader, the community and most importantly, the children. Montag’s boss captain Beatty states, “Chock them so damned full of facts that they feel stuffed but absolutely brilliant with information” (65). Bradbury proves to be a prognosticator of our own times where we can easily associate with regulated media and TV programs rather than engaging in a culture of reading.

Works Cited

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. New York: Balantine Books, 1953.

Hammel, Heidi. Fahrenheit 451. 29 December 2015. Accessed 27 October 2017.

Scott, Robert. "Fahrenheit 451." Journal of Media Studies (2010): 1-3.

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