Fahrenheit 451: the Firemen

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The 1950’s, an era that plagued the minds of Americans with fears of atomic war and Cold War conspiracies, provides an appropriate setting for the foundation of novels protesting government policies. Animal Farm, 1984, and other similar satires of the time period demand government reform. But Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 staunchly contrasts these other writings; rather than presenting some omniscient tale admonishing its audience of the dangers of government hierarchy, Bradbury uses satire to criticize primarily emerging trends in society, providing an account that deems them equally as harrowing and dangerous as some authoritarian government, although he does include a limited number of strands involving an anti-government theme. This unique aspect of Fahrenheit 451 has earned the attention of critics and supporters alike. Unlike other novels produced during this time period, Bradbury protested a society growing increasingly centered around materialistic comforts and desires and less around the pursuit of intellect. Bradbury did not simply express his concerns about the degradation of intellect however; he encrypted his message in the layers of a complex tale. Written upon every page of the novel is a fragment of information that plays a larger role than superficially understood. Themes involving the value of imagination, the authority of peers, freedom of speech, and the struggle between individualism and conformity emerge once the novel is more than ostensibly examined. In a time period during which everyone felt that “Big Brother” existed only to suppress the freedoms of humanity, it became easy to forget that people possess that same power; it became easy to forget that when a society loses the ability to think independently, exploitation is inevitable. Rather than making thoughts and conclusions, you are simply told what to think. The “firemen” of Fahrenheit 451 metaphorically represent the closest thing to government control in the entire book. Bradbury...
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