Writing Portfolio: Critical Review of Fahrenheit 451

The novel Fahrenheit 451 written by Ray Bradbury is an example of a dystopia. A dystopia is an imagined place or state where things have been degraded or are bad. These novels are usually set in the future from when they were written and are quite often a warning to society. Fahrenheit 451 was written in around 1953, the novel is set in the future where times are very different from what they were in the 1950’s but these times are not to far away from what we are living today. The novel is set in America where Montag lives with his wife, Mildred. It illustrates their life living in this time. I believe that the content of Fahrenheit 451 is a warning to society about the greed and need for control by the government, this greed in the novel lead to the lack of freedom for the citizens of America without them knowing what is actually happening. Fahrenheit 451 talks about the use of technology leading to the lack of freedom throughout the world which is commonly seen in dystopian novels.

The first example of the government limiting the freedom of citizens is the ‘firemen’ burning books. In this novel firemen aren’t like they are today in fact they start fires instead of putting fires out. In this time books are illegal and if anyone is found to have books their house will be lit on fire, burning all of the contents of it. The books are described in this novel to only bring pain and worry to people so they must be burnt. Firemen burning houses and books is shown through out the whole novel, an example of this is in the first paragraph of the novel with Montag at work starting a fire in someones house who is suspected to be holding books. Ray Bradbury uses the opening paragraph to describe what Montag’s actions are. “the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in is head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history” This shows the emotionless work that is done by the firemen. I believe that the government has made this law because they are afraid of what the books contain and what they could cause people to find out, in other words the government is controlling media in order to have complete control over citizens. This is shown in the novel with this quote “So now do you see why books are so hated and feared? They show the pores in the face of life” This quote shows that the books go deeper into life and expose more than what the government want to portray life to be. This has actually happened in real life and is still happening today. For example today in North Korea Kim Jong-Un controls what is published and accessible on all media from, books to newspapers and even the internet. This is a use of control so that the citizens of North Korea don’t know what is actually happening in the real world and its stops them from asking questions they only know everything from Kim Jong-Un’s perspective, this way Kim Jong-Un is able to continue having complete control over North Korea.

Another aspect throughout the film that limits the citizens freedom is fear. Fear is used in order for people to be scared into obeying the law. For example the mechanical hound, he is used to sniff out anyone who has books. The fear of the mechanical hound and of burning houses of people who have been have books. This hound is described by Montag as “The Mechanical Hound slept but did not sleep, lived but did not live in its gently humming, gently vibrating softly illuminated kennel back in a dark corner of the firehouse.” Ray Bradbury gave the impression that the mechanical hounds are very intimidating. By using this technique of fear of what the hierarchy people are going to do to the citizens it makes them less likely to commit crimes. This is shown throughout the novel with things such as the mechanical dog and burning houses. An example of this is with Faber who is an old professor, he is afraid of everyone and he doesn’t know who to trust. Montag met Faber a year ago in the book and he remembers him talking about books so Montag journeys across town to Faber’s house to talk to him about books. Faber shows this aspect of fear when Montag knocks at the door and he explains that he is alone.
Faber “who is it?”
Montag “Montag out here”
Faber “what do you want”
Montag “Let me in”
Faber “I haven’t done anything”
Montag “Im alone dammit”
Faber “you swear it?”
Montag “I swear!”
This shows that Faber is withdrawaled and worried about people knocking on his door and what their intent is.

In Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury wrote about how in this time where the book is that they have a virtual reality, this is called the parlour in the novel. People spend hours in the parlour building a life. Mildred and Montag have three parlour walls and Mildred wants another one but they are very expensive. In the story it is evident that Mildred spends the majority of her time in the parlour and that she is addicted to this virtual reality. I believe that the government in this novel use the parlour as a “distraction”. This distracts the people from what is really happening the world and stops them from interacting socially. It also stops the citizens from asking questions. If they ask questions this can be a major threat and could arise things that the government wants to keep under covers.

This aspect of distraction also ties in with Another aspect that is briefly discussed in the novel Fahrenheit 451. Citizens in the novel in this time become very bored and disconnected from their lives without really realising it. I believe that this is because it stops them from interacting socially and they rarely get to think for themselves, citizens never really get to enjoy their lives. This is shown when Montag comes home and he finds Mildred and she has overdosed in an attempt to take her life. He calls the emergency services and two men arrive at his house. Ray Bradbury describes them as impersonal like robots or machines and its as if they do this all the time. This is shown in the paragraph where Montag discovers Mildred “operated by an equally impersonal fellow in non stainable reddish-brown coveralls” This shows how the citizens are so disconnected from their life and how they are uninterested in their lives due to the limitations put on their life. Mildred uses the parlour as a distraction not only to distract her from what isn’t known but to distract her from what is really going on in her mind. This is quite often happening in life today, people use social media to distract or create a image of what their life is but this is all just to distract people from what may actually be happening in this persons life.

The dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451, written by Ray Bradbury is a warning to society about the abuse of power that the government is cape able of. He has illustrated this throughout the novel from the burning of books to more subtle things such as using the virtual reality to distract citizens. Even though Ray Bradbury’s ideas about life in the future they aren’t exactly the same as what we are living today but they aren’t far off. Such as Kim Jong-Un and his input into media, and the ways social media is used today to create an image of what life should be and how it isn’t always what the person is always living. I think that this state of life can be avoided by listening to Ray’s warnings and we should not be oblivious to what the government is trying to do and not let them abuse their power.

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