Symbolism in Fahrenheit 451

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Symbolism in Fahrenheit 451
Imagine a world full ignorant, censored people, a world in which the government outlaws books and controls everything. People cannot and do not even think for themselves. Teenagers, who aren’t even raised by their own parents, murder one another and engage in violent games. Citizens are hypnotized by their parlor families in wall TV’s and radio seashells. Such a lifestyle is depicted in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. In the futuristic novel, there are many symbols criticizing the modern world. Ray Bradbury uses symbols of fire, water, a mechanical hound, and the legend of the phoenix to convey his underlying message about this modernized society. The most important and obvious element of symbolism in the novel is fire. Fire represents both good and evil. It symbolizes destruction and conflict. Fire consumes minds, spirits, men, ideas, and books. Not only is fire destructive, it is also a devouring, life-ending force as Montag witnesses with the elderly lady who chooses to burn up in her home. Ironically, to the firemen, fire symbolizes purification through the burning of books. They have “451” labeled on their helmets. And as Bradbury explains, it is “the temperature at which book-paper catches fire, and burns…” (Lenhoff 1). In addition, Bradbury uses fire to change when he burns his house and Captain Beatty. He undergoes an emotional experience in which he views fire as a new starting point. Before this experience, “Montag’s world is a gilded cage of physical luxury and total spiritual emptiness” (Wright 3). The fire signifies Montag sterilizing his life by burning his house and getting rid of what is no longer needed. The burning flames are much like those burning inside of Montag as he realizes that the life he once lived was a waste. Even his own wife, completely consumed in the society, could not even remember where they had met (4), and eventually turned on him. As Montag sets Captain Beatty...
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