by George Orwell and Eric Blair and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury are dystopian fictions. The two fictions have a number of glaring similarities in the plot and character development. Evidently, protagonists in the two novels lead meaningless and bland lives, but the appearance of a woman in their lives changes their lives for good. Dystopian literature usually illustrates a society and makes the audience aware of troubles that are likely to occur in future. Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 were published at different times, but both comprehensively reflect dangers there common in their age and are relevant even nowadays.
Political Ideas and Themes
The first dystopianism is majorly reflected in both books. Fahrenheit 451 is set in a dystopian future. The public is banned from viewing the books. Severe punishment is enforced to anyone who dared go against the ban. Analytically, the books are a physical symbol of a person’s individuality and independence of decision making. Subsequently, banning people from viewing the books is substantially similar to forbidding individualism and free-thinking. “He had a fireman Guy Montag, who saved a book from the flames instead of burning it…if you destroy all the physical books, how can you still save them?” (Bradbury ). Similarly, 1984 is set in a dystopian atmosphere. The province of Airstrip One is managed by a political party, English Socialism. Seemingly, the book portrays the future as locked into permanent wars and troubles. The omnipresent government surveillance dictates the mind of the public. Basic human rights such as independence thought, and individualism is taken as an offense by the ruling party. Free-thinkers are persecuted for ‘thoughtcrimes’ offenses. ‘The Thought Police’ were mandated with apprehending ‘thoughtcrimes’ offenders. “ Two weeks ago I thought seriously of smashing your head…If you really want to know, I imagined that you had something to do with the Thought Police” (Orwell p115).
Additionally, a government that changes history is reflected in both books. However, it is clear that alteration of history is more evident in 1984 than Fahrenheit 451. The changes made to history indicates the type of regime in power. In 1984, Orwell transitions from a war with Eurasia, transforming to war with Eastasia:, "Oceania was at war with Eurasia; Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia” (Orwell p275).
The idea of exceedingly desensitized society is evident in both books. In Fahrenheit 451, even a group in society that is unlikely to be violent such as children are so desensitized to the extent of running people over and shooting one another for enjoyment. On the hand, in 1984, footage of a ship carrying refugees mercilessly being bombed and a child's arm being shot to emerge. Thought inhuman, the desensitivty of the society is reflected as the footages are used for fun. The characters play along with those in power. For instance, the part that Smith in 1984 plays in the huge machine of the party is similar to that of Guy Montag in Fahrenheit 451 who regularly alters the writing. There is an alteration of content through incineration to suit the demands of the ruling party.
Inasmuch as the two novels revolve around a war in the background, the nature of the wars in slightly differs. In Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury view of war is an all-out decimation which is contrary to Orwell’s idea of war. Orwell reflects war as an item for elongating scarcity and perpetuating paranoia. Besides, in Fahrenheit 451, all those who are deviant to the majority are checked, but the ruling party does not care so much about the thought of defiance. The minds of the citizens are dulled through television and opposition burnt, as long as government’s goals are at stake. Total dictatorship is reflected in the way opposition of any kind is treated; books and people that are opposed to the government's rule are inhumanly burnt. On the contrary, Orwell government depends on indoctrination of citizens and application of totalitarian policies that include wide and intensive surveillance through the use of spies: Spies and the Youth League. “You’re a traitor! Yelled the boy…” (Orwell, p23).
There is some sense of satirical romance in 1984 with Julia’s relationship being an act of rebellion.
Political perspective of main characters
In 1984, Winston Smith was the protagonist. Smith is an epitome of humanity and utopian thinking in the novel. Orwell represents Smith as a kind of innocent person in a world full of troubles and vices. Most likely, most readers identify with Smith as through him, the audience is able to comprehend and feel the troubles that innocent citizens undergo in a dystopian society of Oceania. Right from the onset of the story, Smith is opposed to the totalitarianism rule, fights but finally fails and is brainwashed. “Winston Smith is a man in grave danger for the simple reason that his memory still functions…Winston finds the courage to a secret revolutionary organization called the Brotherhood”(Orwell).
Guy Montag, the main character in Fahrenheit 451, is a man with uncontainable loathing for sadistic, escapist society. Guy Montag takes pride in his work as a ‘fireman’ and is an indicator of the 24th-century professionalism. As time goes by, Montag expresses his growing discontent and cannot explicitly explain the reason behind his emptiness and lack of affection. His friendship with Clarisse McClellan unravels the harshness of the society as opposed to the way he perceived it as the joy of nature in which he rarely dines in.
Montag discovers his intense hatred for the sadistic rule when Beatty prepares to arrest him. Though hesitant due to the uncertainty of his action, the hatred overcomes his worry, and ignites Beatty and watch him burn. “Beatty flicked his fingers to spark the kerosene. He was too late. Montag gasped. The woman on the porch reached out with contempt to them all, and struck the kitchen against railing…” (Bradbury). Unlike Winston Smith who fails in his quest for a better society, Guy Montag perspective and fight prevails and ultimately triumphs. He successfully ducks the government and gets peace, and avoids nuclear war. On the contrary, a character like Beatty supports the cruel regime.
Incidents challenging characters’ perspectives
The incidents challenging characters perspectives in the books are mainly meted out by antagonists against protagonists. In the two books, for instance, O’Brien and Beatty, in 1984 and Fahrenheit 451, respectively, are a reflection of the dystopian society. Additionally, Mildred, Montag’s wife, is part of the consumerism and is opposed to the transformation of the current society. She is contented with the status quo. Through the books, the fight between antagonists as agents of doom and protagonists as an agent of good in society ensue hence providing incidents that challenge political aspects of various characters. For instance, in Fahrenheit 451, when Beatty attempts to arrest Montag and burn him, Montag’s hatred for the sadistic society overcomes and eventually, he burns Beatty. Similarly, in 1984, Winston Smith spirit and humanity is challenged when the party relentlessly oppresses people. “He felt as though he were wandering in the forests of the sea bottom, lost in a monstrous world where he himself was the monster. He was alone. The past was dead; the future was unimaginable" (Orwell, p26). Towards the end of 1984, Smith loses spirit and humanity, the invaluable characteristics he had always fought. He gives in to the challenge and brainwashed by the government.
Effects of the incidents on the development of the story
The challenges to the main characters’ political perspectives facilitate authors’ achievement in driving lessons in the minds of the readers. In Fahrenheit 451, the incidents that challenge Guy Montag’s hatred towards sadistic society do not triumph. His fights to bring down dystopian culture helps him join a community of likeminded people and eventually assists him escape the nuclear destruction. The incidents that Montag's faces enable Bradbury, the author, build on individual incidents to illustrate the negative effects of the dystopian society. Arguably, going by the Montag’s struggles and the eventual escape, Bradbury is able to developmentally create a story reflecting the struggles that society go through as a result of bad leadership. On the hand, the reader is able to draw insights on effects of bad leadership, and the suffering one has to endure to liberate a society from cruel governance.
On the contrary, the challenges that Smith's face overcomes him at the end. However, it can be argued that the failure of the Smith is a twist in the plot of the story that enables it delivers its final lesson to the readers. Orwell allows Smith to be destroyed at the end of the story. The destruction of Smith plays a major role in the development of the story as enables readers to comprehend the dangers of allowing the 1984 society in leadership.
Seemingly, the incidents in the story enabled the authors of the two books to develop the theme of dystopian society and allow readers draw lessons from the two books.
Two major insights can be gained from reading 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. First, liberating society form bad governance is costly and has causalities. Throughout the two books, those who dared challenge the ruling party are severely punished. Besides, Captain Beatty is killed by Montag in the process of expressing his hatred for the cruel society and defending himself. However, there is hope at the end as Montag survives and remains a symbol of rebuilding a nation destroyed by a nuclear bomb.
Secondly, bad leadership is infectious if not relentlessly fought. The resignation of Smith to bad leadership is a warning to those who avoid being involved in the fight against bad leadership. Being indifferent to the ills that affect society allow evil to spread and may eventually spread throughout the society. Smith, who is an epitome of ‘good’ in society is finally brainwashed.
1984 and Fahrenheit 451 may have been written a long time ago. However, it is incontestable that the two books are still relevant in our contemporary society and warn us of the problems we face every day in our society.
Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. New York: Simon " Schuster, 2012. Print.
Orwell, George. 1984. New York: Signet Classic, 1961. Print.