THE POWER OF BOOKS ESSAY
Guy Montag’s “crime against society”, was that he understood the power of books.
Fahrenheit 451 (1953), written by Ray Bradbury depicts a dystopian society which, due to the absence of books, discourages intellect and punishes free-will. As receptacles of knowledge, books give human beings a unique power, as they encourage and nurture intellect and understanding. The intellectual metamorphosis that Montag undergoes renders him aware of this fact, making him an incredibly dangerous figure in the society of Fahrenheit 451. Despite Montag’s understanding of the power of books, he only recognises his true purpose in life once all elements from his former society had been destroyed. The power of books has always been their ability to contain knowledge. Physically, man is a comparatively weak animal. He cannot naturally run like the horse, nor fly like the birds. He is no match in strength for the elephant, the lion or the bear, and has no natural weapons. Yet, through knowledge, human beings now stand at the apex of society. In the Medieval era, only the upper-class, or those aligned with a religion could read, and it was this caste which held power over the common people. Today, in first-world countries such as Australia and America, the advancement of education among the population has brought power to the people and thus, they are no longer under the dominion of priests and kings. Therefore, books, with their capacity to allow readers to rationalise, analyse and ponder have proved to be man’s greatest tool: ‘The pen is mightier than the sword.’ In the dystopian society of Fahrenheit 451 however, the government has attained absolute power over the common people. This state of power is brought about by the absence of books, and the overreliance on television as entertainment. In the Afterword of Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury clearly expresses his views on television, and its effect on people to create ‘…non-readers,...
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