Censorship is implementedeverywhere to hinder social media from publishing literary pieces. This themeis also prevalent in the novel Fahrenheit 451 written by Ray Bradbury. Thenovel revolves around Guy Montag, a fireman whose job is to incinerate books ina dystopian society where censorship reigns supreme.
During a regular call, Guyhas his eyes opened when a woman is burned along with her books even when shehad the chance to leave. After this incident, he wonders what causes people tostay and be murdered along with the books. With the help of his wife Mildredand English professor Faber, Montag avoids Captain Beatty and the society helives in.
This government is similar to that of a communist one, where booksare burned for the happiness of equal literary knowledge between citizens.However, characters such as Clarisse McClellan, Captain Beatty, the captain ofthe firemen, and Mildred Montag, Guy Montag’s wife, show that they are nothappy with the way things are in the current situation. Mildred attemptssuicide, Clarisse is killed after she moves near Guy Montag, and Beatty dies ashe had asked for his death from this world. All of these characters display thelack of support for human morals such as caring for themselves and lookingafter others. The implicit messages in Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, displaythat a controlling government can censor sources of information to the pointwhere society can lose touch with basic human morals. ClarisseMcClellan is the first character that is introduced, other than Montag. She isa seventeen year old lady who recently moved in and provides a differentoutlook on the aspect of censorship and the jobs of the firemen.
She asks Guywhether he knows about the mental wellbeing of the firemen’s duty in the quote: “Strange.I heard once that a long time ago houses used to burn by accident and theyneeded firemen to stop the flames.” He laughed. She glanced quickly over.….
. “Are you happy?” she said. “Am I what?” he cried. Butshe was gone-running in the moonlight. Her front door shut gently.
“Happy!Of all the nonsense.” He stopped laughing. He put his hand into theglove-hole of his front door and let it know his touch. The front door slidopen.
Of course I’m happy. What does she think? I’m not? he asked the quietrooms. (Bradbury 4) Inthis quote, Clarisse describes whether there was a time where firemen put outfires instead of creating them.
With her outlook on the job of being a fireman,Montag is moved to think whether he’s happy and whether his job is morallyright. Clarisse violates the basic moral of preserving ones when she chooses tocommit suicide by being run over by a speeding vehicle. This shows how Clarisseis deprived of the information she seeks and then becomes unhappy, leading herto lose her life. MildredMontag is another character dissatisfied with herself due to the mindlessnessinduced by censorship of novels. She attempts suicide from an overdose ofsleeping pills. When she is confronted by Guy, she plays it off that she wouldnever be able to do that and displays it in the quote: “I wanted to talk toyou.
” He paused. “You took all the pills in your bottle lastnight.” “Oh, I wouldn’t do that,” she said, surprised. “Thebottle was empty.” “I wouldn’t do a thing like that. Why would I do athing like that?” she asked. (Bradbury 8) Inthis quote, Montag confronts Mildred about the night before where she haddialysis conducted to prevent her from slipping away.
This quote demonstratesthat Mildred is not happy with the way things are, and that she puts on this falsepersona for society that she’s happy with everything. Millie has mentionedbefore that she cannot think for herself and that she follows whatever theparlour walls say or do. This further motivates Montag as he saw how indecisivesociety has become and they depend on things like television to live theirlives. Perhaps Millie wanted to read books but was not able to since she couldnot obtain literary knowledge which had been previously mentioned. Mildredknows the strict laws governing the possession of literature and she doesn’tunderstand why, but only follows the rule that books were banned for a reason.
Herviolation of the basic value of looking after one’s safety really shows how farmuting information has affected the citizens. CaptainBeatty is the head honcho for the firemen. Out of the group he is the most wiseand experienced. He is a manipulative man who taunts and ridicules Montag topressure into realizing what’s appropriate for society. For instance, this isfurther explained when he says: “Youmust understand that our civilization is so vast that we can’t have ourminorities upset and stirred. Ask yourself, What do we want in this country,above all? People want to be happy, isn’t that right? Haven’t you heard it allyour life? I want to be happy, people say. Well, aren’t they? Don’t we keepthem moving, don’t we give them fun? That’s all we live for, isn’t it? Forpleasure, for titillation? And you must admit our culture provides plenty ofthese.”(Bradbury 29) Inthis quote, Beatty and Montag have a debate on why censorship on novels isnecessary for the happiness of citizens.
Beatty explains that to keep societyhappy you have to keep the minorities happy. With that, he explains that theauthors’ opinion and views disrupt the peace and order of society. Beattymentioned before that he has read a few books and that they say nothing.However, he always uses his own knowledge of books to poke at Montag. Beattyknew that knowledge is power and despite living in a happy world as he so callsit, he isn’t happy himself. He has seen where the world has been and where itis now. Further on in the book, Beatty is burned alive by Montag after thefiremen get a call to incinerate the books in Montag’s house.
Montag realizesthat Beatty wanted to die. He didn’t move at all when he was incinerated byMontag. Beatty abandoned the basic instinct of defending oneself when disturbed.He displays that even he with his massive support for censorship and hisknowledge of literature, he was still unhappy with the way things are insociety like many other residents. Looking at his actions from the book untilhis death, the reader can infer that Beatty is putting on a façade for hatredon books. The reason being that he is a fireman and that firemen cannot supportthe survival of publicized literature since that would be against theirprinciples.
Fahrenheit451 gives a very detailed insight on a dystopian society that is hinged on maintaininghappiness through equality of literary knowledge. The controlling government,coupled with restrictions of censorship, dilute sources of information to thepoint where the citizens have little to no emotion. As a result, it is easy forthem to lose touch with basic values and morals of keeping oneself safe.
Withthe depiction of the near future Ray Bradbury provides, it is easy to see theloss of self-preservation in the majority of society. This brings the questionof whether mass population would rather benefit from intense amounts ofcensorship or a more open rule when it comes to literary publications.