Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451, positions his readers to see the future world in a negative light. He sees the essence of humanity as individuality, the capacity to form intimate relationships and to reflect on our lives. Several key characters are crucial to the novel’s plot and thematic concerns. The awakening of humanity depicted in Montag’s characterisation, captured through Bradbury’s use of narrative voice and diction becomes, in my mind, inspirational. We are asked to question the values that underpin this dystopia and this is essential in shaping our understanding of the values we should all share.
Montag’s characterisation is inextricably linked to our understanding of other characters and shapes our view of the novel. When Clarisse confronts Montag and the values of society, where individuals, “head for a Fun Park to bully people around..” because it is the norm. Clarisse’s character, like Montag’s, is crucial to the novel as she is, in a sense, a representation of the reader’s world. She, like us, values independent thought, something discouraged by the government. In a key scene she asks Montag, “Are you happy?” This forces him to consider his life and his actions. His thoughts in Bradbury’s stream of consciousness narration: “Clarisse, Mildred, uncle, fire, sleeping tablet..” He shows difficulty in articulating his response which gives us an insight into how he “thinks little at all about nothing in particular”, from day to day. Clarisse, powered by an insatiable curiosity, whom Beatty labels a “time bomb”, serves as the catalyst that impels Montag towards a necessary self-examination. Through their conversations she provokes his self awareness and reveals to him the absences of love, pleasure and contentment in his life. Thus through characterisation Bradbury’s attack on mindless conformity becomes clear to us as readers.
Clarisse’s “odd” habits, asking questions and playing with flowers, introduces Montag to the world’s potential for...
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