Fahrenheit 451: Final Draft
In 1953, Ray Bradbury wrote his novel Fahrenheit 451. Since its debut, Fahrenheit 451 has been regarded as a masterful work of literary fiction with powerful political commentary, akin to George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm. According to Willis McNelly, “For Bradbury, a metaphor is not merely a figure of speech, it is a vital concept, a method he uses for comprehending one reality and expressing it in terms of another; it permits the reader to perceive what the author is saying” (Connor 408). Bradbury’s entire novel is one huge metaphor for how humanity is losing touch with what is important and he uses the characters to convey his messages about censorship. Bradbury uses the dialogue between characters to explain the purpose, meaning, and detrimental effects of censorship. Throughout his novel, Ray Bradbury uses interpersonal interactions and dialogue to convey the paramount theme of censorship.
The Purpose & Meaning of Censorship
In order to set the stage for the rest of his novel, Bradbury must convey an overpowering sense of censorship and the heavy consequences that come with it. As we begin to learn about Montag, his life, and the futuristic world in which he lives, Bradbury ensures that the impression of censorship is engrained in the very fiber of Montag’s character. One day, as Montag is speaking with his Captain from the firehouse, Captain Beatty says, “[Firemen] were given the new job, as custodians of our peace of mind, the focus of our understandable and rightful dread of being inferior; official censors, judges, and executors. That’s you, Montag, and that’s me” (Bradbury 56). Here the reader learns for the first time about the theoretical purpose of what Montag does for a living. Bradbury sets two primary characters against each other and portrays to the audience that each has good intentions, but it is up to the reader to decide which intentions are better. For Beatty, the purpose of censorship is to keep people from feeling anything upsetting. For example, Beatty explains how the entire process of censorship in the form of book burning began. It started as a peace-keeping process that evolved into an exaggeration. Beatty recalls how it all started and tells Montag, “Colored people don’t like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don’t feel good about Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Burn it. Someone’s written a book on tobacco and cancer of the lungs? The cigarette people are weeping? Burn the book. Serenity, Montag” (Bradbury 57). For Beatty, if any one person is upset by something someone else has written, illustrated, or expressed in any form of media, it has to be done away with. Because the purpose of censoring nearly everything is to keep people from getting upset, Bradbury’s world needs something that is seen as pure and beautiful to erase the ugly nature of intellect. Therefore, fire is used as the solution to everything and homes are built with incinerators in the kitchen – the very place of creation and creativity in the home (Smolla, 2009). As a fireman, Montag is expected to understand this concept. For Montag, though, the ability to read books and explore their meaning is more valuable than avoiding upsetting feelings, so he sets himself against the notion of censorship. Throughout his novel, Bradbury gives powerful examples of what censorship means to various types of people. To Beatty, the censorship of book burning is about keeping the peace in society. For Montag, it is an evil that has stripped Montag of the ability to learn and satisfy the innate curiosity that has been suppressed in him. In line with Montag, Professor Faber suffers greatly, as well. According to Faber, books are so hated because, “They show the pores in the face of life. The comfortable people want only wax moon faces, poreless, hairless, expressionless” (Bradbury 79). Thanks to the way the world has evolved through censorship, people are...
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