EN3110 - NOVEL
FAHRENHEIT 451 –
In Fahrenheit 451, Beatty exists as a paradoxical character which has a profound knowledge from the books he burnt but is still against the keeping of these intellectual products. Skillfully, Ray Bradbury has built up the important villain through whose arguments we can look at more aspects of the existence of books in our society, or generally the maintenance of knowledge. In the conversation between Beatty and The Montags, the fireman captain has indicated his opinions about the increasing focus on speed in the society, “redundancy” and perils of reading, “necessity” of censorship and ways to keep Man happy. These are also the thematic concerns that the author wants readers to ponder thoughtfully and seek for their own answers.
A. The increasing focus on speed in the society
“We didn’t get along well until photography came into its own. Then- motion pictures in the early twentieth century. Radio. Television. Things began to have mass. […], they became simpler.” This is what Beatty says about the history of the elimination of books in the society. To him, he has realized that the reasons behind the reduction in popularity of books are the appearance of new forms of media which increase the speed of entertainment. Americans have become aware of the time they spent on reading and rapidly turned to TV, radios, because of not only their novelty as compared to books but also the speed at which they can satisfy human’s needs of amusement. For instance, each program can entertain millions of people at the same time and even in very short period. Almost every broadcast will not exceed one hour while most of the classic books can only be finished in at least two or three days. Furthermore, as the programs want to appeal to the most kinds of viewers, they are simplified; thus, the original intellectual properties inside the scripts are also reduced to almost nothing.
Moreover, the comparison between the rate of TV programs in nineteenth and twentieth centuries clarifies Beatty’s points about man’s increasing demands for speed in entertainment: “slow motion” versus “speed up your camera”. Gradually, man has followed the trend unconsciously as they began to inquire fast shows and even short easy-to-read books. “Books cut shorter. Condensations. Digests. Tabloids. Everything boils down to the gag, the snap ending, […]. Classics cut to fit fifteen-minute radio shows, then cut again to fill a two minute book column, winding up at last as a ten- or twelve-line dictionary resume.[…] whose sole knowledge of Hamlet was a one-page digest in a book that claimed: now at last you can read all the classics; keep up with your neighbors.” Seemingly, according to Beatty, the trend of concentrating on the mere speed of amusement has been adopted by more and more people. For them, the quest for knowledge of human has been disregarded as a way to keep them as informed as their acquaintances. They no longer learn for their own sake, but just want to be superior to or at least as good as the others.
Next, onomatopoeia is employed to support Beatty’s arguments:” Click? Pic? Look, Eye, Now, Flick, Here, There, Swift, Pace, Up, Down, In, Out, Why, How, Who, What, Where, Eh? Uh! Bang! Smack! Wallop, Bing, Bong, Boom!” Indeed, onomatopoeia has been used as a mnemonic device in advertisements as well as TV series, shows and even books in order to increase their impression in viewers’ minds. However, to the fireman captain, this is also an evidence to prove that people are inclined to like simple and nonsensical things rather than intellectual products. The majority in Fahrenheit 451 world wants everything to be done quickly and simply. As a result, they will also want to avoid the process of thinking on their own which, to them, is tiresome and mundane.
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