Two Different Prospects for the Future: Ray Bradbury's and Margaret Atwood

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Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 showed us a world in which people found it acceptable, even preferable, to remain ignorant about the state of their world and face the darker aspects of their own humanity. Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale envisioned a theocratic government named Gilead that induced women into the servitude of military commanders for the purpose of procreation. In both of these bleak contemplations of the future, people are discouraged from and harshly punished for expressing any sort of dissent. Perspectives that do not align with the status quo are discouraged, perhaps even feared, and consequently censored. These authors' purpose was perhaps not to foretell a future, but to examine parts of society that necessitated examination in order to raise awareness. In both of these novels, any such questioning or dissent is unacceptable, as Atwood's protagonist Offred explains that “thinking can hurt your chances, and I intend to last” (Atwood 8). However, Ray Bradbury's city was razed due to its citizens' apathy and lack of attentiveness. Bradbury's choice of expression even faced hardship in the real world, for he himself “had experienced many pressures to alter his work so as to make it more acceptable to this or that group” (Patai 1). These thoughtful pieces of literature have provoked discussion on the ability to speak and express freely, and ironically, have themselves faced bouts of criticism and censorship. These are freedoms that Diane Wood reminds us “must be vigilantly guarded in order to be maintained” (Wood 4). As Americans, the evolution of our society has depended on those very freedoms. Through examination of these two novels, we will see how the stifling of the fundamental freedoms of discourse and ind...

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...y 51.1 (2009): 11-25. Academic Search Premier. Web. 29 Apr. 2014. Permalink
Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013. Print
Patai, Daphne. "Ray Bradbury And The Assault On Free Thought." Society 50.1 (2013): 41-47. Academic Search Premier. Web. 29 Apr. 2014. Permalink
Wood, Diane S. "Bradbury and Atwood: Exile as Rational Decision." The Literature of Emigration and Exile. Ed. James Whitlark and Wendall Aycock. Texas Tech University Press, 1992. 131-142. Rpt. in Novels for Students. Ed. Diane Telgen. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Literature Resource Center. Web. 11 Sept. 2013. Document URL

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