10 June 2013
Dreams that Destroy Freedom
American culture thrives on being ‘the land of the free’. The rags-to-riches story to the immigrant success story, seem to define the American Dream. We are told that these achievements can be done by adapting to America’s ideals and cultural norms. The ‘American Dream’ is attainable for those who fall in step with the majority. This conformity is illustrated in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. In the novel, Guy Montag becomes disillusioned with the illiterate ignorance of his society. Through a series of tragic events, Montag finds the vapid world must be changed. This change will be the only way to attain true knowledge, thus freedom. This society, based in ‘fiction’, echoes many of the same values encouraged by the American Dream. By considering the values of media influence, ideal appearance and importance of the nature, it is clear that the American Dream in Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 makes its occupants ignorant and selfish. . Within Bradbury’s Fahrenheit, media is used as tool to eliminate a thoughtful society. The government creates ignorance through the empty television programming the citizens are exposed to. For example, Montag arrives home and finds Mildred and her guests watching senseless streams of incoherent images. As Montag watches the women from a removed area of the room while the walls projected, “Abruptly the room took off on a rocket flight into the clouds...A minute later, Three White Cartoon Clowns chopped off each other’s limbs to the accompaniment of immense incoming tides of laughter” (Bradbury 94). The programming that the women are viewing has absolutely no quality content. It serves as solely just stimulation not enrichment. The images are bright, brief and shocking to dazzle them into submission. This type of entertainment creates minds that are overstimulated and become dependent. These minds have no time for inward reflection, while they are constantly assaulted. The images of the clowns are also incredibly violent; however, they are humorous. They inflict massive amounts of pain onto each other and do not have a negative response. In fact, pain is something to mock or deny. This tactic creates a desensitized feeling towards pain and the death of others. The government uses these methods reinforce control; however, they also maintain a dispassionate populace.
In addition, the government maintains absolute control over the media even when crisis occurs. This is accomplished by distorting the story to match their agenda to maintain control over the public. Montag and Granger, on a portable viewer, are watching the pursuit of Montag come to an end apprehending a mock-Montag. The program concludes and an announcer says, “The search is over, Montag is dead; a crime against society has been avenged” (Bradbury 148). By having the false ending, the government show that nothing is out of their control. This is a mere hiccup. The powers-that-be can tie up their loose ends. The media turns it into a spectacle to watch and hold the people’s attention further. Also, the penalty for these crimes is immediate death. The fictitious Montag was not apprehended but publically executed with no processing or investigation. No one questions this because they have no concept of human rights. The last statement is possibly the most powerful. The statement that “society has been avenged” denotes that Montag has tried to harm the people. In this society, justice in not important but the act of vengeance is. The intervention by the government reinforces the unceasing confidence of the people and restores that things are “safe” again. While keeping the low level of confidence; subsequently, the government creates a self-important society.
Also, the exclusion other current events of the globe the government creates a selfish society. Montag is appealing to Mildred about the wars and their motives, as they are...
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