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Published: Tuesday 29th of October 2013
Fahrenheit 451 is a famous dystopian novel, written by the highly-esteemed Ray Bradbury in 1953. The main character of this renowned literary work is Guy Montag, a 30-year-old man working as a fireman in a highly consumerist civilization. At first, Montag is presented as an obedient minion of a dystopian society that is overwhelmed by a high level of censorship as well as an imminent military conflict. In the wake of a chain of powerful events, Guy attempts to devise a strategy for escaping this society. Bradbury points out the fact that a civilization that repels the demands of creativity and genuine human contact and only cares about material commodities, is a dreadful and dangerous one (Longman 365).
In Fahrenheit 451, Guy’s job as a fireman does not involve taking out fires. Instead, it actually implies starting fires. In the majority of situations, he is required to set books on fire, as they are banned in dystopian America imagined by Bradbury. Firemen are portrayed by the writer as a futurist equivalent of the inquisition that existed in the Middle Ages. In addition to setting books on fire, they often burn their proprietors as well. At first, Guy never stops to doubt the laws imposed by the state where he resides – he always gets the job done.
Everything changes for the fireman one particular evening when he notices that a weird woman is following him as he is heading back home after a long day at work. As they engage in a conversation, Guy can’t help but notice that the woman is not like other people he lives amongst. The questions posed by this girl, called Clarisse, cause him distress. During this discussion, she acts very differently from the manner in which the citizens of his country generally do. As opposed to Montag’s peers, Clarisse is sentimental and solitary. Before parting ways, the girl asks Guy whether his life is happy. The fireman fails to offer her a clear response. As he arrives at his flat, Guy is overwhelmed by a stream of strange feelings. Out of the blue, he has a revelation and realizes that his whole existence before meeting Clarisse was a robotic one.
As he enters the bedroom, Guy finds his spouse, Mildred, passed out on their bed. Upon closer inspection, he comes to the conclusion that Mildred took a lot of sleeping pills. The writer doesn’t specify whether she wanted to commit suicide or it was merely an unfortunate accident. Throughout the past few years, Guy and his wife have grown apart, and they were both merely moving on with their own existences. Mildred is an avid watcher of situation comedy shows, which are transmitted via a technology referred to as “parlor walls”. These parlor walls are basically made of 3 television sets that replace regular house walls.
After returning from work, Guy simply goes to bed and rests. In spite of the fact that their wedlock is no longer a happy one, the man is still concerned with Mildred’s situation and makes a phone call to get her an ambulance. Bradbury points out the fact that in this dystopian version of America, occurrences such as taking too many sleeping pills are so common that scientists have created a special device that performs swift blood transfusions. Such devices are operated by repairmen instead of doctors. Upon arriving at Montag’s apartment, the handymen manage to save Mildred. When they wake up in the morning, Guy questions her regarding her motives for overdosing on sleeping pills. Mildred claims that she was incapable of committing suicide and implies that she may have drunk too much at the party she previously attended.
After having more conversations with Clarisse, the fireman’s viewpoints are perpetually modified. Montag begins to observe certain aspects of his existence for the very first time. Furthermore, he starts to engage in straightforward but unpremeditated endeavors such as sipping rain water or joking. The girl talks to Guy about her personality and tells him about her sessions with a shrink. In just a few words, the writer succeeds in demonstrating that attitudes that are regarded as ordinary by the reader are considered deviant and unconventional in a society that promotes total consumerism as well as superficial forms of amusement. For instance, Clarisse tells Guy that her shrink asked her why she enjoyed spending her time in the nature and observing the birds or catching butterflies (Bradbury 34). After she vanishes, Montag has no knowledge as of her location for a certain period of time.
Things begin to unravel even quicker when Guy and his colleagues are sent to burn down a residence in which a large number of written works are discovered. As he carries out his investigation, the fireman suddenly discovers a book and conceals it from the other members of the fire brigade. After hearing something, Montag looks into the matter and comes across the elder woman who lives in the house. The woman refuses to live the residence, which is about to be burned down. Although the other firemen want to set the house of fire right away, Guy tries to save the old lady by telling her to get out. Upon the fireman’s efforts to get her to leave, the old woman expresses her gratitude. Afterwards, all covered in kerosene, she simply lights a match and catches fire.
When he gets back home, Guy is horrified when Mildred tells him that Clarisse passed away after being involved in an accident a few days ago. After Clarisse’s shocking death, her family moved away. The following morning, the fireman feels nauseous and cannot get out of bed. Seeing as he fails to arrive at work, Montag gets a visit from his boss, Captain Beatty, who talks to him about the time when firemen began to burn things instead of putting out fires. Beatty points out the fact that written works are a dangerous thing because they encourage individuals to think and individuals who do this always end up being different from those who reject thoughts. According to the fire chief, minorities ought to be combined into a single one and all individual discrepancies ought to be flattened. “We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal […] A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon. Breach man’s mind.” Beatty asks Montag (Bradbury 212).
After observing what Beatty has to say, the reader starts to grasp the important function the fire brigade plays in this dystopian civilization. “They were given the new job […] the focus of our understandable and rightful dread of being inferior; official censors, judges, and executors. That’s you, Montag, and that’s me” (Bradbury 213). Throughout this conversation, while looking at Guy’s bed, Mildred discovers the book the fireman concealed beneath his pillow. The wife tells Beatty about the situation, but Montag’s boss claims that it is not uncommon for a fireman to want to learn more about the material he normally sets on fire. Beatty tells Montag that unless he destroys the book in twenty-four hours, his colleagues from the fire brigade will do it.
Although Guy understands Beatty’s message, he can no longer stop himself from reading. He believes that written works may have what it takes to change the uneducated, emotionless country in which he lives. As such, Guy begins to search for people who have the same viewpoints. He gets in touch with Faber, an old man who used to work as an English teacher. Montag hands Faber the book he saved from the fire, the New Testament, which is probably the last accurate edition that survived. By reading this book, one can learn the genuine teachings of God, as opposed to watching ads where Jesus talks about material commodities. The old professor talks to Guy about the significance of books, their function in modeling a person’s life perspective, as well as their value for the mankind. They set up a permanent connection by using a tiny transmitter that Guy inserts in his ear. This way, Montag can always hear Faber and make use of his advice, and the professor can always find out about the events that take place outside of the place where he lives.
Feeling slightly bewildered by what he learned, Guy goes back home and sees that Mildred is having a few people over. Montag fails to heed the professor’s advice and tries to stir up the consciousness of Mildred and her guests by reciting some verses from a poem. They fail to grasp the message. The next morning, when the fireman gets to work, Beatty tells him about a very important call. Although Guy is not aware of it, Mildred has told the fire brigade that he is hiding books in his apartment. Montag and his colleagues go on a drive and ultimately arrive at his own flat. The captain commands him to set the place on fire all by himself.
Upon Guy’s refusal, Beatty mocks him. Eventually, the captain finds the professor’s transmitter and decides to do something about it. However, Guy aims the flamethrower at his boss and activates it. The captain ends up getting burned alive. Afterwards, the hero battles the fire brigade’s robotic dog, a piece of machinery designed to find and murder fugitives. Although Guy uses the flamethrower to set the robot on fire, the dog bites him before it gets destroyed. The main character then goes to the professor’s house. Once there, he sees on the news that he is being hunted down by another robotic dog. The writer showcases the manner in which this horrendous manhunt is turned into a form of amusement for this self-indulgent, apathetic population. He describes how the ignorant society enjoys the display of helicopters flying above the town in pursuit of the runaway.
The professor tells Guy to leave town and look for a few rebels who managed to escape the materialistic society and learned books by heart to prevent them from being lost. The hero succeeds in avoiding the mechanical dog and running away. The writer masterfully transmits a vast array of feelings while using just a couple of words. To cater for the population’s thirst for blood, the authorities choose a different person to be murdered instead of Guy.
As the main character ultimately escapes the city, the whole place is razed to the ground by atomic bombs. Fortunately, Montag manages to track down the group of people the professor mentioned – a few outlaws led by someone called Granger. Guy learns that, in addition to their birth names, each of the exiles bears the name of a written work they have learned by heart. After discussing and eating, the hero and Montag’s people start traveling towards what used to be a city, to help build a new civilization.