Jacob BurkeMs. MarshallENG 4UEJanuary 08, 2018Censorshipin Fahrenheit 451 InRay Bradbury’s dystopian novel, Fahrenheit451, books and literature are illegal and are burned rather than read in afuturistic society. This leads to people watching excessive amounts oftelevision, resulting in having almost no emotion for each other, no meaningfulconversations, no independent thinking, and little meaning for life.
They alsodrive extremely fast due to lack of appreciation for nature and take its beautyfor granted. While Bradbury’s intent in his message through writing this storywas to notify people of how life would have little meaning without literatureand that television could consume society, censorship plays a big role incontributing to the conformity of the community, and ultimately, how cultureimpacts individuals. Many characters of the novel were impacted differently,but three were impacted on a much greater scale: The wife of the protagonist,Mildred Montag, was easily drawn to television and had no curiosity or interestfor books, thus conforming to society and complying with the government; aseventeen year-old girl named Clarisse McClellan who was the opposite ofMildred, as she had no interest for television and loved the great outdoors;and the protagonist of the novel, Guy Montag, who burned books as his job, but lethis curiosity get the better of him and realized the importance and value ofbooks throughout the novel. MildredMontag is the epitome of entertaining oneself effortlessly. She did not work,instead she watched television on her wall set for the majority of the day anddid not show any interest for literature or even her husband, and did not evenshow concern for much else than her television.
While it may not have had apositive effect on her, government censorship greatly influenced her lifedecisions. To begin with, Guy Montag befriended Clarisse McClellan early on inthe story. Her unique personality and style of living puzzled Guy, but alsointrigued him. He could not help but want to learn more about her. Then, sometime passed and Guy had not seen nor heard from Clarisse in a while.
He waswondering what had happened to her and confided in Mildred. She broke the tragicnews to him that Clarisse had been run over by a speeding car four daysearlier, but she was not even phased. “‘No. The same girl. McClellan.
McClellan. Run over by a car. Four days ago. I’m not sure. But I think she’sdead. The family moved out anyway. I don’t know. But I think she’s dead'” (Bradbury47).
She did not show any emotion for the death of young Clarisse. There was nonews about the event, nor was there any concern from anyone. Clarisse wasdifferent than everyone since she did not conform to society, so everyone,including Mildred, took her death lightly. Furthermore, Mildred preferredwatching fictional characters on the television, whom she referred to as herfamily, because individuality and dissent were considered bad. Books thatoffended anyone were outlawed to avoid conflict, resulting in literaturebecoming banned altogether. Eventually, being different or creative was frownedupon. So Mildred, protecting herself from the possible consequences, followedsociety and just fit in. She did not care about anything but her television,her supposed family: “Willyou turn the parlor off?” he asked.
“That’smy family.” “Willyou turn it off for a sick man?” “I’llturn it down.” Shewent out of the room and did nothing to the parlor and came back. “Is thatbetter?” (Bradbury 48-49).Also, it is shown how isolatedthe public was and how their minds were being controlled by the conformistgovernment. Mildred watched her wall television, or the parlor, for most of theday and took in all the propaganda and mindless programming that was being fedto her by the government.
This resulted in her losing a lot of her short-termmemory: “Willyou bring me aspirin and water?” “Youacted funny last night.” She returned, humming. “Where’sthe aspirin?” He glanced at the water glass she handed him (Bradbury 48-49).Lastly, it was confirmed thatMildred only cared about herself when she turned in her own husband and leftthe house. “The front door opened; Mildred came down the steps, running, onesuitcase held with a dreamlike clenching rigidity in her fist, as a beetle-taxihissed to the curb.
She shoved the valise in the waiting beetle, climbed in,and sat mumbling, ‘Poor family, poor family, oh everything gone, everything,everything gone now…'” (Bradbury 114). She was afraid of what would happen toher if she had stuck by her husband, considering he broke the law, so shedecided to protect herself and betrayed her husband, thus conforming. It iswithout question that Mildred Montag was greatly affected by governmentcensorship throughout the novel and easily conformed to society. Whilegovernment censorship worked accordingly for Mildred Montag, the effects werethe opposite on seventeen year-old Clarisse McClellan. Unlike society, she didnot watch television and she took the time to appreciate nature. The foremostreason for this being that she rebelled against the government censorship.
She explainedto Guy that she preferred going for walks and enjoyed smelling things andlooking at things, and did not watch television. “‘Isn’t this a nice time ofnight to walk? I like to smell things and look at things, and sometimes stay upall night, walking, and watch the sun rise'” (Bradbury 7). “‘I rarely watch the’parlor walls’ or go to races or Fun Parks'” (Bradbury 9).
She did not carewhat the norm was, nor did she care that she was an outcast, because she washappy with the way she lived. To add on, Clarisse still rebelled even thoughall her peers had conformed to society. She was afraid of them because some ofthem had been killed at the expense of other friends.
Especially due to drivingfast, as they did not appreciate nature like Clarisse did. “‘I’m afraid ofchildren my own age. They kill each other. Six of my friends have been shot inthe last year alone. Ten of them died in car wrecks. I’m afraid of them andthey don’t like me because I’m afraid'” (Bradbury 30). To end with, despite thatGuy was a fireman, Clarisse still shared all of her thoughts with him. Sheintroduced him to the world’s potential for beauty and meaning with her gentleinnocence and curiosity.
Guy learned a lot about himself from Clarisse and shehelped him find true happiness. Had he not met her, he never would havecontinued to be curious about literature and he never would have helped rebuildcivilization. “Before he crossed paths with her, Montag walked, talked, andlived as if desensitized and numb to the degradation of individual freedomaround him.
He was part of the problem to use a contemporary phrase, butClarisse awakens him and he is now becoming part of the solution – at least forhimself and those who think like him” (Ugulini). Clarisse McClellan wasdifferent than everyone else and decided not to conform to society, as sherealized that life would be happier living more freely and not being controlledby television or by the government. Theway government censorship affected Guy Montag was much like the way it affectedMildred Montag near the beginning of the story, but changed greatly throughoutthe novel. Firstly, Guy was a fireman who claimed that he was content with hisjob and his life. However, after meeting Clarisse McClellan, she asked if hereally was happy and if he really was in love. Guy immediately thought of theseas stupid questions, but then really thought about them and questioned hiswhole life with Mildred.
“‘Of course I’m happy. What does she think? I’m not? He asked the quiet rooms'”(Bradbury 10). Guy saw that Clarisse was happy with her life and realized thatthere was some sort of emptiness in his. He discovered that it was because hehad conformed to society and she did not. Secondly, Guy was traumatized afterburning a woman alive on one of his missions. He was puzzled at why the womanwould give up her life for books and became more intrigued with literature,wondering how she had so much passion them. However, he also thought it waswrong to burn the woman just for keeping books, as if firemen had too muchpower or authority.
“‘She was as rational as you and I, more so perhaps, and weburnt her'” (Bradbury 51). Finally, near the end of the story when Guy became afugitive, a massive war broke out as well. He was running from the law, as hewas caught keeping books and then burned Beatty. In their attempts to catchhim, the law nearly tore apart the city and wreaked absolute chaos, resultingin a war. They even killed an innocent man whom they posed as Guy Montag sothey did not have to tell the public they failed. “‘They’re faking. You threwthem off at the river.
They can’t admit it. They know they can hold theiraudience only so long. The show’s got to have a snap ending, quick! If theystarted searching the whole damn river it might take all night. So they’resniffing for a scapegoat to end things with a bang. Watch. They’ll catch Montagin the next five minutes!'” (Bradbury 148). Guy thought that if humankind isthis uncivilized without books and literature, then he would help rebuildcivilization with books and literature.
Censorship really had an impact on GuyMontag throughout the entire novel. At first, he was part of the problem, thenhe realized the wrong he was doing. RayBradbury certainly comments on the excessive use of and dependence ontechnology nowadays in writing Fahrenheit451 and predicts what society could become if technology continues todominate lives. Bradbury takes Guy Montag on a journey to find true meaning inlife through books and literature. Censorship plays a big role in contributingto the decisions made by many characters throughout the story, especially GuyMontag.
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htmlUgulini, Michael. “What IsClarisse’s Function in Fahrenheit 451, and How Does She Affect Montag?” Enotes.com,Enotes.com, www.enotes.com/homework-help/what-clarisse-s- function-fahrenheit-451-how-does-17319