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Fahrenheit 451 - review.

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Introduction

Ray Bradbury, born in 1920, sold newspapers after he graduated from high school. At the same time he created his own magazine and wrote short stories. His first money-making story was published when he was 20 years old. Fahrenheit 451, one of his best-known novels, was published in 1953. It was originally published as a short story, and Bradbury later expanded it to its current length. Donald Watt says: "On the whole, Fahrenheit 451 comes out as a distinctive contribution to the speculative literature of our times, because in its multiple variations on its fundamental symbol, it demonstrates that dystopian fiction need not exclude the subtlety of poetry" .Bradbury is recognized as a groundbreaker in making science fiction a respected literary genre. Fahrenheit 451 revolves around three main characters which are Montag, Faber, and Beatty; it tells how Montag, Faber, and Beatty's struggle revolves around the tension between knowledge and ignorance. Montag is the protagonist of Fahrenheit 451. He is by no means a perfect hero, however. Introduced to the world's potential for beauty and meaning Clarisse McClellan opens Montag's eyes to the emptiness of his life. When Montag meets Clarisse, his seventeen-year-old neighbor, he is amazed at her independent thinking and open defiance of convention. She is fresh and exciting, uninterested in the technological trappings of the ultra-modern society. She also challenges Montag when she asks him if he is happy. When faced with this question, Montag acknowledges that his life has no meaning; the more he thinks, the more he is dissatisfied with the vacuum of his life. ...read more.

Middle

Faber competes with Beatty in the struggle for Montag's mind. His control over Montag may not be as complete and menacing as Beatty's, but he does manipulate Montag via his two-way radio to accomplish the things his cowardice has prevented him from doing himself, acting as the brain directing Montag's body. Faber's role and motivations are complex: at times he tries to help Montag think independently and at other times he tries to dominate him. Faber fosters a great deal of disapproval for the state of affairs in his dehumanized, oppressive society, but lacks the courage to make a stand against it. Faber still possesses a few precious books and aches to have more. He readily admits that the current state of society is due to the cowardice of people like himself, who would not speak out against book burning when they still could have stopped it. "Do you know why books such as this are so important? Because they have quality. And what does the word quality mean? To me it means texture. This book has pore"(Gatten, Brian). Faber speaks these words to Montag toward the beginning of "The Sieve and the Sand," as he explains the importance of books. Faber tells Montag that it's not the books themselves that Montag is looking for, but the meaning they contain. The same meaning could be included in existing media like television and radio, but people no longer demand it. ...read more.

Conclusion

Beatty speaks these lines to Montag outside Montag's home in "Burning Bright," right before Montag burns him to death with the flamethrower. He muses about the mystical nature of fire, its unexplained beauty, and the fascination it holds for people. With characteristic irony, Beatty, who has just accused Montag of not considering the consequences of his actions, then defines the beauty of fire as its ability to destroy consequences and responsibilities. What he describes is very nearly a cult of fire, a fitting depiction of their society's devotion to cleanliness and destruction. Unfortunately, Montag turns Beatty's philosophy against him by turning the flamethrower on his boss, inflicting an "antibiotic, aesthetic, practical" death. He is quick to stress that he prefers his life of instant pleasure, but it is easy to get the impression that his vehemence serves to deny his true feelings. His role as a character is complicated by the fact that Bradbury uses him to do so much explication of the novel's background. In his shrewd observations of the world around him and his lack of any attempt to prevent his own death, he becomes too sympathetic to function as a pure villain. To promote sameness the government of this society outlawed books, therefore every one was equal. No one in society knew more than another person and that's how peace was kept. Being that Montag wanted to be able to understand what he read, he broke the norm for that society so that made him wanted by any and every one. In Fahrenheit 451 Montag, Faber, and Beatty's struggle revolves around the tension between knowledge, and ignorance. ...read more.

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