Fahrenheit 451 significance paper
American Literature 11 11 November 2013 Symbolism in Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury, the author of the widely known science fiction novel Fahrenheit 451, was alarmed by how much time he felt the general public devoted to watching television in the 1950’s. “If this [pattern of tv watching] goes on …” he composed, “no one will check out books anymore” (XIII). This thought of a television-obsessed future public scared Bradbury. He was particularly afraid of how innovation might prevent individuals from forming relationships with each other and getting in touch with the world around them, which would make them unable to establish human consciousness.
He used the format of literature to explain his fears in the futuristic sci-fi novel Fahrenheit 451. In the unique, Bradbury uses signs to show his concerns about future generations living in a technological society without books. Bradbury utilizes the sign of hands to represent human conscience, the sign of the phoenix to mark rebirth, and the sign of the mechanical hound to mean the cold inhumanity of innovation. The first symbol, the sign of hands, demonstrates human conscience.
Bradbury’s descriptions of the hands of his various characters represent that character’s present state of human consciousness. Person Montag, the book’s primary character, develops a human conscience throughout the course of the novel. Montag is a firefighter in Fahrenheit 451’s futuristic world of innovation. Montag’s job is to burn books, which damages the knowledge and insight that the books consisted of. In the beginning, Montag does not feel any moral conflict with this task. Undoubtedly, he discovers it “a pleasure to burn” (Bradbury 3). Montag’s display screens his real lack of conscience in how he describes his actions (McGiveron 1).
Montag glorifies his actions as a firemen by explaining how “his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to reduce the tatters in charcoal ruins of history” (Bradbury 3). Montag’s hands are clearly in control of his actions in the method he describes his work, due to the fact that a “conductor” is a person who remains in control. Likewise, Montag’s description reveals that he has no conscience directing the work of his hands as a firefighter since he does not even recognize the “blazing and burning to bring down the tatters in charcoal ruins of history” as a sad occasion (Bradbury 3).
Montag’s conscience does not begin to establish up until he satisfies a girl named Clarisse, who is a “delicate, observant individual who questioned society” (Sisario 2). Montag and Clarisse have a discussion in which Clarisse asks Montag numerous thought-provoking concerns about the world. Clarisse’s questioning leads Montag to see the world differently. Clarisse awakens Montag’s conscience and alters his viewpoints on his job as a book-burning firemen. Bradbury expresses Montag’s newly found awareness through the actions of Montag’s hands (McGiveron 2).
For instance, Bradbury writes that” [Montag’s] hand had done it all, his hand with a brain of its own, with a conscience and an interest in each trembling finger, had turned burglar” (Bradbury 37). This quote is from the scene where Montag is opening his very first book to check out. Montag speaks about his hands having a conscience because he is not prepared to acknowledge that he has a conscience. Therefore, Montag’s hands are symbolizing his advancement of a human conscience. In contrast to Guy Montag’s active, conscious hands, Mildred Montag, Person’s partner, has dull, listless hands.
Montag describes his partner as having “hands that don’t [seem to be] doing anything … [t] hey just hang there at her sides or they lay there on her lap or there’s a cigarette in them, but that’s all” (Bradbury 156). Mildred’s unmoving hands show that her inner conscience is not current. Mildred is the reverse of Guy; she is fully soaked up in the television-obsessed future society and does not have the ability to feel and act human. The novel suggests that it is individuals like Guy, instead of those like Mildred, who will choose the fate of the future world (McGiveron 2).
Bradbury voices this belief through Guy, who describes” [the future] will come out of our hands” (Bradbury 161). Individuals like Mildred are too unfeeling, unthinking, and television-obsessed to create any huge modifications in the world. In order for individuals like Mildred to have any hope of affecting the future, they would have to first open their minds to checking out new ideas. Guy represents the people who have effectively done that. When Person opened his mind to new ideas and self-reflection, he enabled himself to develop a human conscience, which spurred him to do something about it.
The future, then, will come out of the hands and actions of those, like Man, who have established a human conscience because they are the ones with the inner vision to see the changes needed and the motivation to produce those modifications. In addition, the change of the world of Fahrenheit 451 is the essence behind the significance of the phoenix. The sign of the phoenix represents renewal. The phoenix was a legendary bird that “occasionally burned itself to death and reanimated from its own ashes to a brought back youth” (Sisario 1).
The symbolism of the phoenix misconception turns fire into an instrument of renewal (Telgen 12). This renewal is apparent in Montag’s murder of Captain Beatty. Montag selected to kill Captain Beatty due to the fact that Captain Beatty was attempting to prevent Montag from reading books and acquiring a conscience. Montag took the flame-thrower that Captain Beatty had actually been using to burn down Montag’s house and valuable store of books, and then Montag used it to burn Captain Beatty to death (Bradbury 119). In this method, Beatty’s tragic death by fire is “for Guy a rebirth to a brand-new intellectual life” (Sisario 2).
Captain Beatty represents the world of blind allegiance to society, and, by burning Captain Beatty, Montag is definitively stating that he will no longer be a member of that society– he has actually selected to check out, to discover, to be reborn! The significance of the phoenix continues after the burning of Captain Beatty with the burning of whole cities. The federal government in the world of Fahrenheit 451 tried to control its residents through fire (KnowledgeNotes 6). Hence, it is fitting that the federal government, and the cities that they managed, were destroyed with fire (KnowledgeNotes 6).
The unique recommends the hope that “a new society will be born from the ashes of the old one” (Telgen 12). Hence, while the death of Captain Beatty represented renewal for a single person, Guy Montag, the burning of whole cities represents potential regrowth for all of humanity (KnowledgeNotes 6). The last sign in the novel is the sign of the mechanical hound, which represents the cold inhumanity of innovation. Although most of the people who live in the cities of Fahrenheit 451’s world do not realize it, there is a continuous war taking place.
One side of the war is the “manufactured reality” of the technological society. The opposite of the war is the “natural life” presence of the people who find their way out of the city (KnowledgeNotes 6). The mechanical hound is like a soldier in this war on the side of the technological manufactured truth. The mechanical hound is trying to keep people caught in the mechanical world of the city (KnowledgeNotes 6). The soldiers on the opposite of the war are individuals like Montag and Granger, who are attempting to assist society find their way back to human awareness. The mechanical hound is at as soon as “the perfect creature of the system … and the most total infraction of humanity,” because it represents a “replacement of the human with a device” (Eller 2). The mechanical hound is hence a terrifyingly inhuman soldier, and it embodies the manner in which “technological advances can be utilized for destructive purposes (Telgen 12). With its “hypo-dermic needle tounge,” the mechanical hound “immobilizes the offending book fan” (Joyce 1).
Even when book lovers do manage to ruin a mechanical hound, another hound comes to take its location, which suggests, “technology utilized destructively can not be quickly demolished” (Telgen 12). Though hard to eliminate, the mechanical hound is not actually alive since it “lacks a mind of its own and a body that feels” (Eller 2). The mechanical hound is for that reason the supreme sign of the “dehumanizing side of technology” (Telgen 12), for it is a cold, senseless, ridiculous device that damages human book-lovers who attempt to eliminate versus it.
Bradbury’s use of symbolism is main to analyzing crucial ideas in Fahrenheit 451. The mechanical hound, the phoenix, and the imagery of hands are all apparently simple elements to the story that represent essential principles. Making use of the mechanical hound, misshaping a living creature, to represent the evils of innovation is particularly creative. Bradbury’s genius remains in using objects to symbolize these important ideas. Works Cited “Fahrenheit 451.” Books for Trainees. Ed. Diane Telgen. Vol. 1. Detroit: Wind, 1997. 138-157.
Wind Virtual Reference Library. Web. 7 Oct. 2013. McGiveron, Rafeeq O. “Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.” Explicator 54. 3 (Spring 1996): 177-180. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Jeffrey W. Hunter. Vol. 235. Detroit: Windstorm, 2007. Literature Resource Center. Web. 7 Oct. 2013. Sisario, Peter. “A Research study of the Allusions in Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.” English Journal 59. 2 (Feb. 1970): 201-205. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Deborah A. Stanley. Vol. 98. Detroit: Windstorm Research, 1997. Literature Resource Center. Web. 7 Oct. 2013.