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July 16, 2013

Essay on Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel written by Ray Bradbury. It was initially published in a shorter with the title “The Fireman.” The novel depicts the future of American society in which the people are hedonistic with critical thought absolutely outlawed.
Guy Montag, the central character, works as a “fireman.” Inversely, he is a bookburner in future. The title of the book itself is very symbolic. It refers to the supposed temperature which the book attempts to combust.  Bradbury is believed to have thought "Fahrenheit" made for a better title; nevertheless, in an introduction to the 40th anniversary edition of the novel, Bradbury tells that a person he talked to at the local fire department said "Book-paper catches fire at 451 degrees Fahrenheit".(Micheal, 2006) The "firemen" burn them "for the good of humanity". Set in the early years of Cold War, the novel is highly critical of the burning issues in the American society of the era. The title refers to a temperature in Fahrenheit degrees, which according to Bradbury is when the paper catches fire and burns.(Nadin, 1997)
In an undefined future, Montag is a firefighter whose job is to burn all works written, without any exception. He and his arsonist squad run around town in search of all libraries illegal and are under strict orders to make a bonfire. Montag's world is a world where owning a book or simply read a written work, became crimes. Literature, repelled by the company no longer exists. Until then fully satisfied with his work, Montag will ever decide to remove books from destruction and promised to read them. He decides to hide his works, without anyone's knowledge.(Booker, 2001)
The year 1920/1950 marked the USA's first golden age of science fiction. The "movement" combines fiction, published in the form of episodes in magazines and movies which have often been remembered for their special effects.(Gearon, 2006)
Montag is unmasked and eventually burns Beatty, during a mission aimed Montag's own house. Indeed, his wife, Mildred, before leaving, warned the authorities of the presence of books at home. Montag becomes a dangerous criminal. He is then pursued by the Sleuth (a robotic machine programmed to hunt down, capture and kill all who dare touch the books. Sleuth robot is a machine that resembles a dog-bee with its eight legs and his trunk which lot a sting which injected massive doses of morphine and procaine). Thanks to an ingenious hocus-pocus and especially with an incredible opportunity, he managed to escape the city and is just drifting along the river to meet with members of a traveling community made up of old Harvard graduates who live roads along old railways rusty. They each learned a book by heart in order to save him from oblivion to which he was promised. Finally, war broke out and Montag sees the city destroyed, giving him a chance at a fresh start.
Bradbury also rejects the title of science-fiction writer: "Above all, I do not write science fiction. I just wrote a book of science fiction and it's Fahrenheit 451, based on reality. Science fiction is a description of reality. Fantasy is a depiction of the unreal. So the Martian chronicles are not science fiction, it's fantasy. "(Bradbury, 1983)
In 1952, America was at the heart of McCarthyism. This campaign unleashed by Senator Joseph McCarthy put an end to the careers of many writers and filmmakers, often friends of Bradbury. The climate of paranoia is even heavier than the facts are deliberately distorted and made available to the public.
Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopia. It is a cons-utopia, a narrative that runs the pessimistic view of a bleak future, often totalitarian, as opposed to any improvement. The works lacks didacticism and belongs to the genre of fable. The work can be analyzed as a condemnation of McCarthyism. It has many similarities with the situation in the USA in 1952, indeed, in the work, the intellectuals are eliminated on termination of their neighbors in order to ensure national security  and the "common good".

Dehumanized society described by Fahrenheit 451 shows that many human values such as love and compassion
​​have sunk.  Montag and his wife do not remember their first meeting, the intelligence has also fallen, indeed, people are content with the official opinion and even the "guardians of the truth," as Beatty did not understand what they say, because according to them, culture and dialogue can be summarized in an exchange of quotations. Even communication sank, each demonstrating a frenzied individualism. People have again become children, they live in immanence and just want to act the way totalitarian regime wants to.  "People talk of nothing. Finally, this company is probably returned to primitive practice with the introduction of the cult of violence in the name of happiness.(Ammassa, 2005)
The failure of a society of happiness: the company by a priori Fahrenheit 451 is perfect, since people who live there are happy, as Beatty explains it in his speech. However, this is an illusion. Indeed, the very first pages, Montag realizes that he is not happy. Unconsciously, Mildred knows she is not happy hence she attempts suicide with sleeping pills. Moreover, her case is not exceptional "Cases like this one [...] so many in recent years. " (Bradbury,2000)
Moreover, under the guise of offering happiness to people, this Machiavellian society requires its people to sell a variety of products, so Montag has put in a difficult financial situation in order to give his wife his television outlet, but the system also benefits from their irresponsibility to sell them more important things, like a president or a war.(Seed, 2005)
The misdeeds following the emergence of mass culture are accurately depicted in the novel. The firefighter Beatty describes the emergence of such a society as a possible upshot of mass culture. It was facilitated by the decaying school system. Movies, radio, magazines, and books are leveled down. As a result, people lose their interest in culture and instead prefer to play sports or watch television.(Borsch, 2000)
The failure on the part of intellectual to work as a source of inspiration and mobilization in the society is echoed throughout the novel.  The lack of mobilization of intellectuals is pronounced by the intellectual named Faber who says “I saw where it went long ago. I said nothing. I am one of those innocent people who could raise their voices when nobody wanted to listen.” This message subtly invoked by Bradbury can be viewed as a call to the community of intellectuals to mobilize against illiteracy in the society.(Dexter,2007)  
In the novel, the failure of revolution is evident because the system is too powerful to be overwhelmed or changed.  Montag gets caught as all the attempts to bring about a major change in society are ineffective as suggested by the title of the part where the revolution is described (The sieve and the sand). The revolutionary message (sand) would not be listened to by the population (the screen), who are obsessed with television. The book does not end on a melancholic note.(Collins, 2000)
A humanist vision of man and the world should not be undermined, as Bradbury believes, that we must keep hope, because a company like the one he portrays is not viable because it has lost the war, he
must wait for better times. In addition, history may repeat itself, "is what a wonderful man, he never allows himself to discouragement." Finally, for him, happiness is to enjoy the pleasures provided by nature, not artificial happiness: "Look at the world, it is more extraordinary than any dream made or purchased at the factory.”(Bradbury, 2006)

                                                                Works Cited

Borch, Jens; Richard E. Mark, M. Bruce Lyne. “Handbook of Physical Testing of Paper” 2000

Booker, Keith “Monsters, mushroom clouds, and the Cold War: American science fiction and the roots of postmodernism” Greenwood Publishing 2001
Bradbury, Ray, “Fahrenheit 451” Del Ray Books Ballantine Books 1982
Collins, Mary “Fahrenheit 451: A Unit Plan” Teachers Pet Publications, 2000
Dexter, Gary (October 2007). Why Not Catch 21?: The Stories Behind the Titles. France Lincoln.
Michael, Sharp “Popular Contemporary Writers” Marshall Cavendish, 2006
Bustard, Ned “Fahrenheit 451 Comprehension Guide”, Veritas Press. 2004
Gearon, Liam “Freedom of expression and human rights: historical, literary and political contexts”  Sussex Academic Press, 2006 230 pages
Nadin, Mihai “The civilization of illiteracy” Dresden University Press 1997
D’Ammassa, Don “Encyclopedia of science fiction” Infobase Publishing, 2005
Seed, David “A companion to science fiction” Wiley-Blackwell , 2005


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