Imagine a world with no free thought and where reading books is viewed as a threat to society and the happiness of its citizens. Ray Bradbury did just this in his novel Fahrenheit 451. Concerned by the rise of technology and the relationship between burning books and burning people, Bradbury sought to highlight the dangerous path that society is on, one that could lead to mindlessness and thoughtlessness. In Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury challenges thoughtlessness and promotes freethinking through the construction of his characters. He uses the character of Mildred and her friends to show the consequences of a superficial, dumbed-down society that focuses on pleasure, while Montag and Clarisse show the power and importance of free thought.
Mildred is presented in Fahrenheit 451 as the epitome of the thoughtless society where knowledge has given way to entertainment. Mildred is the victim of a pleasure-driven society, she has been drawn into the trappings of technology which have then made her dull and destroyed her free thought. Mildred is constantly watching the ‘parlour’ and calls it the ‘family’, showing that in this society technology has replaced genuine relationships. She listens to the seashell every night which insinuates a dependence on the technology.
In fact, the first time that we meet Mildred she is described as dead, “like a body displayed on the lid of a tomb.” Bradbury is showing us that technologies like television can essentially suck the life out of us, making us dull drones. He emphasises this by pointing out that “the room was indeed empty,” which makes it seem as though Mildred no longer has any value as a human being, she is merely a pleasure-driven creature who no longer engages in what makes us human – free thought. Bradbury cleverly uses Mildred as a warning to us – if you allow brainless technology to dominate your life then you will become brainless yourself.
Clarisse is used by Bradbury as a direct contrast to...
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