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In the Novel Fahrenheit 451 How and Why Does the Government Control the Population?

By narra2707 Apr 17, 2008 695 Words
Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, is a novel set in a dystopian world full of ignorance, domination, betrayal and most importantly, control. In the book Fahrenheit 451, we learn few people oppose the government’s regime. This is because it is considered a serious crime, especially since the government has implausible power and control over the population. The government exerts its control over the population in a number of ways. One of the ways the government applies its control is by keeping the people ignorant. The government makes sure the people are ignorant by burning all books and anything that could give them an idea of what goes on in the outside world. Without books the people’s only source of entertainment are watching their pantry walls or racing cars: things which do not require thinking. An example of Montag’s ignorance at the beginning of the novel is when he has a conversation with Clarisse and is astounded when she makes a suggestion:

“Do you ever read any of the books you burn?”
He laughed. “That’s against the law!”

This shows that rule breaking is unspoken of in the society, and the idea of rivalling the government is so impossible, it’s amusing. Another way the government manipulates is by keeping people so occupied; the thought of doing anything else would never enter their minds:

They run us so ragged by the end of the day we can’t do anything else but go to bed.
The government creates fun-parks for youths to go to after school, as well as other sources of mindless entertainment for adults after they finish at work. Jobs such as writers, philosophers, and scientists do not exist. At schools teachers are not required, as students learn through video tapes and only learn subjects which do not require much thought. This way they are occupied and are restricted from sharing ideas, which could lead to the downfall of the government, and are therefore stopped from being able to think or act as individuals.

Fear is another thing that keeps the population in awe of the government, and the only thing which succeeds in spreading fear is the Mechanical Hound. The Mechanical Hound is a robotic dog programmed to kill anyone who objects to the rules.

It was like a great bee come home from some field where the honey is full of poison wildness, of insanity and nightmare, its body crammed with that over-rich nectar and now it was sleeping the evil out of itself.

The Mechanical Hound’s main mission in the novel is to capture Montag, who starts to develop his own ideas once he realises what the government are doing. It is not triumphant in its mission, but the government does not fail in fixing the problem successfully.

The last, and probably most frightening, way the government controls the population is by staging deaths. They do so in the novel when the Mechanical Hound fails to hunt Montag down. Montag watches the scene on television, along with the engrossed people of the city, and is astonished when he realises an innocent man has been killed. At first he thinks the government have simply mistaken his identity, but after a while he realises the act was carried out on purpose.

They didn’t even show the man’s face in focus. Even your best friends couldn’t tell if it was you. They scrambled it just enough to let the imagination take over.

The government stage deaths to prove to the public they are invincible when in fact they are the opposite. However by doing so, the people feel unthreatened and protected by the government.
The government in the novel Fahrenheit 451 control the population in unthinkable ways, some of which have also been carried out in our society as well. Governments do it to remain the most powerful, make sure their ideas are always followed out and to cancel out any chances of an opposition. Just like how Montag is addicted to fire in the beginning of the book, the government is addicted to power and will stop at nothing to have it.

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