‘Fahrenheit 451’, by Ray Bradbury, is a novel which invokes much thought about the way we live in society today. Through the protagonist, Guy Montag, Bradbury makes a wider point about the dangers that a divided society can present. In the novel, Bradbury creates a society in which all books and free thought are forbidden. It is clear to us that books are seen to be the source of all unhappiness and should therefore be prohibited. As a fireman, it is Montag’s job, not to put out fires, as is the case in today’s society but instead to create fires in order to dispose of all unwanted books. This creates an idea of dystopia by the government trying to please everyone by using censorship to limit people’s independence and free thinking. As the novel progresses we see Montag move through a series of vital changes, seeing him transform from a mindless drone, happy to do whatever anyone tells him to, into a free-thinking member of society, forming a resistance against a government set to destroy all free thought. In order to determine the effectiveness of Bradbury’s portrayal of the changes in Montag, it is necessary to examine the points in the novel which are, in my opinion, the most significant in Montag’s transformation.
At the start of the novel, we are introduced to the protagonist, Guy Montag, who is characterised by Bradbury as a Fireman with no purpose in life. Montag is one of the destructive forces in society who destroys books and also independence. Montag seems to take happiness in what he does and he seems to have no purpose in life apart from burning books. Montag seems completely content with his position in life, with no want to alter himself as a person and happy with what he does for society. Throughout the novel...
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...f change. However, following his meeting with Clarisse, Montag begins to question his own life and kick-start his own change through Bradbury’s word choice. After the suicide of a book lover, Bradbury’s references to earlier periods illustrate the importance of books in today’s society. Within the rebirth stage, the river is used as a symbol to convey Montag’s total change. This only has the effect of emphasizing the fact that the society in the novel is a utilitarian one. He follows to tell how bringing happiness to the greatest number of people does not always mean that they have the right idea. In this novel, Bradbury acts as the voice of the minority. He tells us that our individuality sets us apart from anyone else and that our differences should be acted upon and not suppressed.
Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. New York: Ballantine, 1991. Print.
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