Intellectual Destruction of a Society: “It Was a Pleasure to Burn”

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Intellectual destruction of a society: “It was a pleasure to burn” Fahrenheit 451 paints a vivid picture of group thinking societies today and the cultural downfall which their destined to embody. A nation where books and other sources of information are replaced by alternatives which lack substance, such as television control over the masses and the anti-intellectual act of book burning the protagonist initially enjoys so much. In Bradbury’s dystopian novel culture is repressed as a collective decision by the society. The spiritual and cultural death depicted in Ray Bradbury’s acclaimed work of fiction Fahrenheit 451 is evident of being the byproduct of a culture plagued by self-induced ignorance. Fahrenheit 451 is a tale of the few who refused to assimilate in an intellectually repressed society. Rather they utilize the knowledge preached in “Group Minds” by Doris Lessing, to the effects of media on society as conveyed by Neil Postman as well as Morris Berman and From Grudin take on Freedom in On dialogue: a lesson in Free Thought. In Bradbury’s dystopian society when the protagonist Guy Montag entire existence is question by a young adolescent girl by the name of Clarisse his journey toward self-discovery and enlightenment begins. Clarrisse ask a simple question before parting ways with Montag "Are you happy?”(Bradbury 3). As Postman speaks on in Amusing ourselves to Death: The Peek-a-Boo World, he compares society to the children game of Peek-a-Boo where life’s daily routines flash by with ease and nonchalance “a world that does not ask us, indeed, does not permit us to do anything” (Postman 77), just as Montag is initially depicted as while on the job “whistling, hands in pockets, walked across the upper floor of the fire station and fell down the hole. At the last moment, when disaster seemed positive, he pulled his hands from his pockets and broke his fall He slid to a squeaking halt, the heels one inch from the concrete floor downstairs” (Bradbury 2) . Montag’s routine seems mundane to a free mind individuals like Clarisse, and this becomes a realization to Montag in turn, breaking him down to see the lack of a self-identity which he and those around him carry with them. Clarisse is one of the few who seeks knowledge, she isn’t trying to teach Guy anything rather she’s trying to learn from him. Clarisse is the embodiment of Lessing’s piece on the potency of information against a society in dismal carrying sacred assumptions which are never up for discussion, “The underlying assumptions and assertions that govern the group are never discussed, never challenged, probably never noticed” (Lessing 308) Clarisse thoughtful inquiry spurs Montag to break free, allowing him to see this group he’s unwillingly apart of and the result of his unhappiness and that of the societies as a whole. As the story progresses Guy beings to see his society for what it is and how it resulted in becoming the country which Morris Berman foreshadowed would suffer from a societal collapse through the consumption of “vital kitsch” (Berman 4). This infatuation to consume popular material which lacks quality content is most evident during the introduction of Montag’s wife. After his conversation with Clarisse he comes home to find his found overdosed on sleeping pills and once she revived she’s back to the same, vacant existence obsessed with television. While more so than her husband Mildred is deeply unhappy. She’s severely bothered by the fact that her life is empty and filled with hours of mindless television. As Guy comes home the following night he is greeted with “The living-room; what a good job of labeling that was now. No matter when he came in, the walls were always talking to Mildred” (Bradbury 23) The Television is her connection and only stimulation in life and this represses her human nature to elevate oneself as years pass. In Montag’s society, it's Mildred’s job along with the rest of society to be happy and assimilate into the...
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