‘Fahrenheit 451’, by Ray Bradbury, is a novel which invokes much thought about the way we live in society today. Through the protagonist, Guy Montag, Bradbury makes a wider point about the dangers that a divided society can present. In the novel, Bradbury creates a society in which all books and free thought are forbidden. It is clear to us that books are seen to be the source of all unhappiness and should therefore be prohibited. As a fireman, it is Montag’s job, not to put out fires, as is the case in today’s society but instead to create fires in order to dispose of all unwanted books. This creates an idea of dystopia by the government trying to please everyone by using censorship to limit people’s independence and free thinking. As the novel progresses we see Montag move through a series of vital changes, seeing him transform from a mindless drone, happy to do whatever anyone tells him to, into a free-thinking member of society, forming a resistance against a government set to destroy all free thought. In order to determine the effectiveness of Bradbury’s portrayal of the changes in Montag, it is necessary to examine the points in the novel which are, in my opinion, the most significant in Montag’s transformation.
At the start of the novel, we are introduced to the protagonist, Guy Montag, who is characterised by Bradbury as a Fireman with no purpose in life. Montag is one of the destructive forces in society who destroys books and also independence. Montag seems to take happiness in what he does and he seems to have no purpose in life apart from burning books. Montag seems completely content with his position in life, with no want to alter himself as a person and happy with what he does for society. Throughout the novel, Bradbury describes the fire as beautiful.
‘His hands were the hands of some great conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning’
Bradbury is using the motif of Montag’s hands to show us that Montag sees fire,his creation, to be a thing of great beauty, in the same sense that a conductor sees the music as a work of art. Montag sees himself as an artist creating a thing of pure magnificence in the fire. Bradbury further stresses Montag’s opinion of fire by using a key metaphor.
‘He strode in a swarm of fireflies’
In using this metaphor, Bradbury creates the image of the fragments of past books being fireflies. Fireflies are creatures that bring light to darkness. This acts as an effective link to Montag’s view of fire as a thing of beauty. Fireflies also possess a certain aura of magic and mystery creating an almost serene beauty. To Montag, things that are alight become beautiful and so the sparks of the fire are seen as beautiful. This helps to emphasise the satisfaction Montag takes in his work.
The following stages of the novel reveal an unusual feeling. At this point we are introduced to Clarisse, an innocent teenage girl with a boundless curiosity who does not follow the trend and who...