The American Dream In Fahrenheit 451 By Ray Bradbury
The American Dream: Americans are taught that the typical American dream is where everyone has equal opportunities and no matter what class they are born into, they can still achieve all their dreams; but, this only applies to people who follow the status quo. Yet, in Fahrenheit 451, the protagonist, Guy Montag, decides to stray from the status quo and break the rules. There are many important topics covered in Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Fahrenheit 451 presents a dystopian society where books are banned and “fireman” is forced to burn any that are found.
This book brings up issues of censorship, rebellion, and technology which form a dystopian society. In Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury uses these issues as well as literary devices and figurative language in order to develop the themes of censorship, rebellion, and the dark side of technology.
Ray Bradbury uses metaphors to convey his message of censorship in Fahrenheit 451. In the context of the novel, censorship is being portrayed by multiple citizens and authorities. The government in Fahrenheit 451, uses censorship to sway their citizens, by removing the possibility of learning new information that could possibly lead to conflicts. In their society, the government and firemen want to be the only source of information whether it is from what they play on television, announce through their earpieces, or stating direct information to the public. One day while Montag was talking to Faber, an old English professor, Faber remarks, “They show the pores in the face of life” (Ray Bradbury 67). This metaphor reveals how books are truly an essential aspect of life. Bradbury uses this metaphor to support the theme of censorship by allowing Faber to show Montag that there is another point of view as to why books should not be feared. He states that books show people what true life is like and how most people feel bothered by the fact that there could be a different world. As Montag is discovering this different world, he finds a bible and is dedicated to memorizing the entire book to enhance his knowledge of reality. As Montag is trying to recall the information he is reading, he keeps getting interrupted by the intercom on the train. Once the intercom turns off, he quickly remembers the time he was at the beach trying to fill a sieve with sand. Bradbury writes, “There were people in the suction train but he held the book in his hands and the silly thought came to him, if you read fast and read all, maybe some of the sand will stay in the sieve,” (Ray Bradbury 72). Ray Bradbury uses a metaphor to relate the words he is reading to the sand in his sieve with his mind being the figurative sieve. Also, he uses this metaphor to express fine distinction, emotions, and images to make his novel more entertaining to his readers. All in all, Ray Bradbury uses multiple metaphors to get the theme of censorship across to his readers.
Secondly, In Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury uses similes to convey his theme of rebellion to his readers. During Montag’s job of being a fireman, he stole an abundance of books that he was supposed to burn. While portraying this crime, he not only stole books but read them too. During his time as a citizen of his dystopian society, he tested the rules of his government multiple times. According to Bradbury, “The books leaped and danced like roasted birds, their wings ablaze with red and yellow feathers,” (Ray Bradbury 103). Bradbury uses this simile to relate the books burning to how he would imagine they would look like if they were birds. This shows rebellion because it shows Montag’s house being burned along with all of the books he owns. In addition to this, Montag reached the outside of the town to find a group of people that read books. Although going outside of the borders of the town was against the law, he didn’t have a choice. Since he got caught having many forms of literature, which is against the law, he was forced to be either executed or leave town. Understandably, he left town and that is when he discovered the group of men that all memorized a specific book. During the writing, Bradbury mentions, “Now, a full three seconds, all of the time in history, before the bombs struck, the enemy ships themselves were gone halfway around the visible world, like bullets in which a savage islander might not believe because they were invisible,”(Bradbury 148). Bradbury uses this simile to imply the theme of rebellion because this quote shows how Montag escaped the town; he was able to witness the “war”, and not be apart of it. In addition to this, Bradbury uses this piece of evidence to try to address the fact that rebellion can be frowned upon In this case, Montag had a clear and clever reason to challenge the rules. In closing, Ray Bradbury uses similes to portray the theme of rebellion through his writing.
Ray Bradbury reveals the theme of the dark side of technology by using multiple examples of allusion. In their society, they have radio broadcast into people’s ears through little earpieces. The majority of the citizens rely on inventions such as the Mechanical Hound and those earpieces to save people’s lives and find criminals. People drive cars at speeds of 150mph, and anything lower than that is frowned upon. Then one day, Faber invents the new small radio that can be placed in Montag’s ear so they can communicate together without the government knowing. Bradbury reports, “Every night the waves came in and bore her off on their great tides of sound, floating her, wide-eyed, toward morning. There had been no night in the last two years that Mildred had not swum that sea, had not gladly gone down in it for the third time,”(Ray Bradbury 10). Although technology does have its advantages, this quote clearly shows one of the largest disadvantages of having an earpiece. They not only deprive you of real-world interactions but also mess with people’s heads to make them believe that they are doing an action even though they might not necessarily be doing it. This quote shows the darks side of technology by using allusion to say that sometimes people don’t always recognize the damage something can do to someone until they take a step back. In Ray Bradbury’s 24th Century society, technology is extremely advanced. They have parlor walls that take up complete rooms and the characters in the show or movie you are watching can speak directly to the citizens by addressing people by name. According to Bradbury, “when Mildred ran from the parlor like a native feeling an eruption of Vesuvius,” (Bradbury 93). In addition, Vesuvius was a famous volcano that erupted in AD79 destroying the city of Pompeii and all of its residents. This example of allusion shows the dark side of society by referencing Vesuvius which can be alluded to as darkness. Clearly, Bradbury is commenting on the negative influence of technology by using allusions in his novel.
In essence, Ray Bradbury uses metaphors, similes, and allusion to convey the themes of Censorship, Rebellion, and the Dark Side of Technology. In Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury uses multiple examples of metaphors to show the main themes of Censorship, Rebellion, and technology by having the government take away any possible evidence of literature, stealing books, and by creating new technology. Ray Bradbury uses similes to show rebellion by stating how Montag steals books and reads them. He also uses allusion and metaphors to show censorship and the dark side of technology. In this novel, Montag first stands up to society when he grabs a book from the attic of an elderly woman. At first, Montag is curious but after seeing that elderly woman stands up for her books by lighting herself on fire, Montag is inspired to take a stand just like her. Against strict orders, Montag behind to privately hoard books taken from fires.