Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian sci-fi novel written by Ray Bradbury. The book became known to the general public in 1953. In his creative work, the author tried to describe the near future and the society that awaits it. The characters in the story do not have access to the books. The protagonist of the novel is forced to burn any book he manages to find. Let’s analyze what Ray Bradbury wanted to say to readers with his work.
What is Fahrenheit 451 about?
This story is about a fireman whose duty is to destroy books. Guy Montag must burn down the entire house in which the printed edition was found. The character is completely satisfied with his activities, he is happy to do his job. But the hero of the novel does not burn the books, but takes them to his home. He does it secretly, because his actions are illegal. The character loves to walk. Especially at night. During one of these walks, the hero of the story meets Clarissa MacLellan. Guy finds out that the woman is his new neighbor. The heroine is interested in talking about thoughts and feelings. She likes books, she tries to find beauty in everything that surrounds her.
The firefighter looks at his neighbor and realizes that significant adjustments need to be made in his own life. Guy decides to retire from his job. To carry out his plan, he reports that he is sick and needs a day to recover. The fire chief stepped into his position, emphasizing that everyone faces this in their lives. However, the character hints that he is aware of the book that Guy keeps under his pillow. Beatty assures that only by destroying printed publications can society be made happy. In his opinion, books carry contradictions, different points of view. Thanks to printed publications, someone becomes smarter, stands out from the rest. The fire chief is sure it’s wrong. They tried to save people’s lives from negative emotions and fears. Citizens are now just having fun.
Montag realizes that he needs time to sort out his feelings and thoughts. Behind the ventilation grill, the man had a hiding place in which he kept books. Gradually, he began to get printed editions from there and selectively re-read them. Guy turns to his wife for help, but the woman does not accept his position. The heroine begins to scream, claiming that they will die from the actions of the character. Mildred wants to distance herself from her husband by any means. She puts on her headphones so she can’t hear him anymore. The woman believes that now is the right time to communicate with “television” relatives.
The Meaning of Fahrenheit 451
Ray Bradbury’s idea is this: without relying on the experience of past generations, on free and honest art, the future that is described in the novel Fahrenheit 451 is inevitable. People are increasingly choosing the latter between a book and an entertaining video, the level of education of the population is falling, due to which there is a massive degradation and an inability to think develops, entailing stagnation in every sphere of human activity. Instead of finding out for yourself, and at the same time checking, the information that is so conveniently and simply presented on the screens, the viewer is content with a superficial picture of the world, which is carefully packed into 5 minutes of airtime.
And if the same viewer himself found, for example, versatile facts about what he was served under propaganda sauce, then his worldview would be more objective and richer. In art which is only one of the sources of information and custodians of culture, those grains of truth have been preserved that could shed light on the true state of things. Unfortunately, the author’s gloomy predictions come true in some countries where the literacy rate is low, but the indicators of hypocrisy, poverty and aggression go off scale. People kill each other without even thinking about why this is necessary, if initially all religions had a peaceful message, and all statesmen should lead the people to prosperity.
Also understandable is the writer’s idea that a person, like Guy Montag, should not be afraid to stand out from the crowd, even if the whole society opposes him. The desire to think and learn something new is a natural need, and in the age of information technology it is a necessity.
Analysis of the book “451 degrees Fahrenheit”
The author in his creative work described a totalitarian society in which there should not be a single book. Any printed publication must be destroyed immediately. With the help of his novel, Ray Bradbury showed the bleak future that awaits people if technological progress gets out of hand. It is impossible to allow a person to lose interest in books. Otherwise, it will lead to moral impoverishment, lack of spirituality.
The interests of the actors are very limited. But the main character understands that something needs to change. The character no longer wants to exist in a society where people are only attracted to entertainment. No experiences, vivid emotions, emotional upheavals. Everything is calm and smooth. And the hero decides to go against the system.
The history of the creation of the book “451 degrees Fahrenheit”
About the history of the creation of the novel Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury singles out a whole chapter “Investments of ten cents” Fahrenheit 451 “” in his work “Zen in the art of writing books.” The writer marvels at the enchanting success, calling the work a “penny novel” due to the fact that Bradbury invested $8.80 in the first draft of the text in the form of a story called “Fireman”.
Ray Bradbury writes his works with full enthusiasm, every morning forcing himself to work. “In order to learn to write, one must write.” So, rereading the novel after a long time since its publication, he realized that the name of the protagonist (Montag) is identical to the name of the paper company, while Faber, who, according to the plot of the book, is his ideological supporter, is the brand of the pencil manufacturer.
The novel itself is titled Fahrenheit 451. Which is approximately 232 degrees Celsius and marks the temperature at which paper begins to burn. The name is given due to the fact that Montag works as a fireman – on the contrary, that is, he burns books.
The meaning of the title of the book “451 degrees Fahrenheit”
The temperature at which paper ignites and burns is 451 degrees Fahrenheit. Ray Bradbury titled his work in such a way as to show readers what would happen if all the books were destroyed. Printed publications carry not only the experience of previous years, but also new knowledge. With the help of various theories, people learn to develop their point of view regarding the surrounding reality. Thinking, thinking people are harder to manage. They are not easy to manipulate. To fill your life with meaning, a person must study books, be interested in history and verified data.
The problems of the book “451 degrees Fahrenheit”
Over the years, the book Fahrenheit 451 has not lost its popularity. The main problem of the dystopian novel is the role of the book in people’s lives. The author showed a society of mass consumption, which is no longer able to think independently and make informed decisions. The characters are just having fun. They were shielded from strong deep emotions. It became impossible for them to make their own choice based on the analysis of the data received.
The heroes of the novel are intellectually degraded characters who easily obey any instructions. Such people are easier to manipulate. And soon the government realized this. Books have become banned. Now people receive information through television and the media, but their data is highly distorted. The problem of the work lies in the inability of people to influence their own lives.
What does the dystopia “451 degrees Fahrenheit” teach
Knowledge is the engine of progress. Books in a person’s life are more important than it might seem at first glance. The work “451 degrees Fahrenheit” teaches to think, think, analyze. All these actions are impossible without books. The dystopian novel is especially relevant today, when people spend a significant part of their time with a phone in their hands, looking at the screen. Gadgets are gradually replacing books. However, society should not allow this. Otherwise, the future will be unpromising and monotonous. Books help to make life bright, full of joyful events, happy moments. Only a thinking, reading person is able to improve the quality of his existence.
Explanation of the ending of Fahrenheit 451
The final episodes of the work deserve special attention. It is in the ending of the dystopian novel that the philosophical meaning is revealed. In the finale, the protagonist is betrayed by the person from whom Guy least of all expected this. However, the character had already been reborn by this time. Now he is the one who seeks to preserve the experience of past generations for future people. Guy memorizes books so as not to lose the acquired knowledge.
The city was under severe attack. Most of the population did not survive. By this event, the writer seemed to want to show that without books the existence of mankind is impossible. However, some critics are sure that Ray Bradbury marked the beginning of a new stage in people’s lives with his ending. Literature is of great importance not only for a particular individual, but for the whole society as a whole.
We are just the covers of books, protecting them from damage and dust, nothing more.
The society described in Ray Bradbury’s dystopia receives information from the screens of their TVs that flooded all the walls of houses, from the noise of radios, and other distributors of propaganda that is digestible and necessary for the state. But books that make you think about everything that happens around people and within society are banned in this world. Where they are burned, there is no place for riots and discontent. A society incapable of thinking is easily controlled by the government, which is why under the conditions of a totalitarian regime literature is prohibited by law, from which it is subject to immediate destruction. But our hero, who, on duty, cleanses his little world with fire, suddenly becomes addicted to the forbidden fruit and begins to contribute to the concealment of books. But everything secret becomes the property of vigilant law enforcement officers.
People who have forgotten how to communicate with each other are only able to perceive the information that is presented, without the need to comprehend it. This is exactly the future that awaits us if we continue to exist as a rapidly developing consumer society.
The novel is written in a fantasy genre, representing the world of the near future. Anti-utopia, which should be understood as fiction, where the exposure of negative trends in certain spheres of society and the state necessarily appears. The author exposes the vices, showing an exaggerated picture of the future, to which such a state of affairs will inevitably lead. We wrote in detail and less officially about this genre here .
Along with this work is the utopian world of George Orwell “1984” ( analysis of the novel ), as well as Aldous Huxley’s anti-utopia “Brave New World” ( analysis of the novel ).
Main characters and their characteristics
- Guy Montag (Montag in some translations) is the main character who works at the fire station of the future. Its main task is to respond to emergency calls in cases where books are found in houses for their burning by means of a special device – a bungspot. This man is a child of his era, he does not think about the essence of his mission until he comes face to face with several personalities who have shaken his confidence in the correctness of the political system. He is consistently disappointed in his wife, who is indifferent to everything except his favorite screens, in his service, where he sees only cruelty and blind desire to please the authorities, in his society, where he no longer feels organic. From an apathetic slave of routine, he turns into a conscious and active person, able to save the age-old wisdom from the hands of the barbarians.
- Clarissa MacLellan is a young girl who appeared on the first pages of the novel, which gave impetus to the hero’s interest in books and what is contained in them. Her family was considered abnormal, constantly suspecting them of reading. In the evenings, their windows were on fire, and one could observe how all the relatives communicated with each other, making loud noises, which caused terrible bewilderment and irritation among all the neighbors in the area. In the film adaptation of the novel, the heroine was given more time than in the text. She disappears without a trace, leaving Montag to wonder where she went. Most likely, she went to the forests, where the keepers of book knowledge were hiding.
- Beatty Firemaster is the head of the fire department, the first to suspect the protagonist’s interest in the contents of the books. The author of the famous quote “Keeping books is not a crime. It’s a crime to read them.” Sensing Guy’s desire to touch the forbidden, the character teaches his subordinate a lesson, but this does not lead to the desired result. His conversations with Guy are the basis of the plot, because in them the author sets out his ideas.
- Mildred is the apathetic, insensitive, indifferent wife of the protagonist, who is a complete reflection of the society described by Ray Bradbury. She sits all day on the couch in a room with screens, hardly speaks, and reacts with caution to the books found in her husband’s hands. She shamelessly betrays him, declaring the discovery.
- Faber is a friend and associate of Montag, a professor who failed to prevent the passage of a law banning books. Initially, he treats Guy with apprehension. When he realizes that the protagonist seeks to know the inner world of books, the former English teacher seeks to help the interlocutor.
- The main theme of the novel is the role of books in human life . Through utopia, the writer demonstrates a world that can be a reality if one refuses to read literature. Books contain the experience of our ancestors, which people should adopt in order to move forward. Readers are asking questions that the consumer society is not familiar with. Therefore, it is dependent on the government and very vulnerable. For people who are not able to think for themselves, information is vilified from the right angle, which gives the state all the levers for complete control.
- Family. The author proves the need for communication and promotion of common family interests. Many people withdraw into themselves and their gadgets, ignoring the importance of family ties. This is a direct path to alienation from relatives and friends, which promises a person loneliness and insecurity. After all, who, if not relatives, can help in difficult times, support and understand? Alas, the hero later realized the destructive role of screens in his personal life, so he lost his beloved woman.
- Loyalty and betrayal. Those whom Guy trusted betrayed him, obeying what the authorities had instilled in them. When propaganda becomes higher than morality, higher than feelings and affections, the personality is destroyed, and in its place appears a submissive and apathetic slave, incapable of emotions and thoughts.
- Technological progress theme. We must understand that technology is a means, not an end in our existence. Society cannot be allowed to value gadgets and virtual reality more than people. In addition, progress should not crowd out the achievements of past eras, they can coexist with each other, only then will all generations achieve harmony of mutual understanding, which is a guarantee of a mutually beneficial exchange of experience.
- The conflict of society and personality . Guy Montag comes into conflict with society by starting to read books instead of destroying them. As a firefighter called in to destroy them, he becomes a double agent – on assignments, instead of destroying literature, he takes some of them home with him. The hero stands out among the people with whom he is forced to share a century. Like the white crow Chatsky, he is not understood and expelled, he is considered a criminal for the desire to learn new things and think, while society has forgotten how to think and exist independently.
- Propaganda and manipulation of society through the media . Television fills all the problems that arose after the ban on literature. The media is becoming a great way to manipulate, they “zombified” the population, remaining the only channel for obtaining any information. However, everything that is shown in the screen rooms is presented from a favorable angle, and the chances of noticing “something wrong” in the information provided are reduced to zero due to the inability to think.
- The problem of lack of spirituality is also born due to the lack of books and the abundance of “information fast food” television screens, which, as a monopoly, participate in the education of the population. Moral values, as a result, are replaced by consumer ones.
- The problem of historical memory. Literature, which has collected all the discoveries and inventions, everything meaningful and thought over for centuries, is the memory of generations. This is a collection of archives of everything created by man since the advent of writing. In a society where books are banned, the ability to save all this is lost, which becomes the key to a complete regression for society.
- The problem of the loss of traditions and values of past eras. Technological progress that has replaced the crispy book in the hand can do good and bad, depending on how you use this find. But without the alternative provided by the same literature, society cannot judge whether it manages its possibilities in this way. Despite the improvement in the quality of the displayed image and the increase in screen diagonals, technology can remain only a beautiful cover for the apotheosis of emptiness.