17, October, 2012
Fahrenheit 451 Analysis
In all societies, knowledge breeds life and understanding about mankind and the world surrounding it. Without the purposeful application of knowledge, the entropy of ignorance sweeps civilization into ruin and decay. In Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury asserts the point that knowledge is the foundation of civilization and if removed, what is left is a decaying society ravaged by stupidity and immorality. War, technology, and paradox sculpt a world that treats lies as truth and knowledge as sin.
The characters in Fahrenheit 451 use technology as a mirroring motif, reflecting the characteristics of the society that invents things like headphones, bio-purging systems, and grotesque mechanical beasts. At first, headphones seem like a harmless invention, but actually showcase the fruitless “knowledge” of the people who use it. Montag discovers this when he observes Mildred using “the little Seashells, the thimble radios tamped tight, and an electronic ocean of sound . . . coming in on the shore of her unsleeping mind” (Bradbury 10). What Mildred listens to is not knowledgeable information, but merely a bombardment of sound and useless facts used to asphyxiate her mind. The Seashell radios force information on the listener to block out thought and short-circuit the listener’s creative faculties. Again Mildred uses the radios, but Montag finds her “eyes wide and staring at the fathoms of blackness above her in the ceiling” (39), as though she is nothing but a shell. It is interesting that the radios are called Seashells for seashells mimic the sound of the ocean just as the listeners of the radios mimic the information of the ocean of sound. People become nothing more than seashells that echo back the same bogus facts as truth without question. This empty society not only depresses free thought, but also dehumanizes its citizens. In the beginning of the book, Montag walks home to find...