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Analysis of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

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Analysis of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Imagine living in a world where you are not in control of your own thoughts. Imagine living in a world in which all the great thinkers of the past have been blurred from existence. Imagine living in a world where life no longer involves beauty, but instead a controlled system that the government is capable of manipulating. In Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, such a world is brought to the awareness of the reader through a description of the impacts of censorship and forced conformity on people living in a futuristic society. In this society, all works of literature have become a symbol of unnecessary controversy and are outlawed. Individuality and thought is outlawed. The human mind is outlawed. All that is left is a senseless society, unaware of their path to self-destruction, knowing only what the government wants them to know. By telling a tale of a world parallel to our own, Bradbury warns us of a future we are on a path to -- a future of mind manipulation, misused technology, ignorance, and hatred. He challenges the reader to remain open-minded by promoting individualism, the appreciation of literature, the defiance of censorship and conformity, and most importantly, change.

Bradbury's inspiration to convey the themes involved in the novel resulted mainly from the social situation of the time. First of all, the novel was written shortly after World War II and increasing numbers of authors began writing about serious topics. Also, the invention of the atom bomb had aroused the Cold War and the use of technology as a form of destruction (Touponce 124). Seeing technology as a potential threat to the well-being of mankind, Bradbury uses Fahrenheit 451 to state his distrust for it in the novel, which explains why the devices are depicted as "chilling, impersonal gadgets of mechanized anti-culture,'; (Mogen 141). Also, as the television was becoming the main form of communication in the 50's, Bradbury believed that it was "reducing society to very mediocre tastes'; (Touponce 125). As a defense against the degradation of literature (as well as peoples' minds), Bradbury intended to teach us of the importance of books by showing us the misery involved in a world that lacks them. Another social consequence leading to the writing of Fahrenheit 451 was that, at the time, the country was going through what was ...

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...is one must "crash'; some time. In Bradbury's society, all communication to the disturbing outside world had been cut off in order to keep the citizens from worrying. Yet, the society had been living in blind happiness, oblivious to the war raging outside their "world'; and the bomb that finally destroyed them. The horrific society that Bradbury had depicted had been intended to be parallel to our own in order to provide us with a warning. He is warning us of the consequences of censorship and conformity. He is warning us of a future of ignorance. He is warning us of a path we may take if we are not careful. He incites us to remain open-minded and to take on our own quests for self-improvement through knowledge. He teaches us to value books in order to gain that knowledge. He pushes us to fight the censorship that suppresses great minds and hides this knowledge, of which without, we may never know the problems of our culture. Our future depends entirely upon the truth and intellectual freedom, and if we do not rise from the ashes of our present like the Phoenix, we may fall victim to self-destruction and ultimately put an end to ourselves, much like Bradbury's fictional society.
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