An anaylsis of Fahrenheit 451 on Guy Montag and the two women in his life. The negative and the positive one.
In the novel Fahrenheit 451, the main character, Guy Montag, is a man torn between living by the norms of his society and his dissatisfaction with society. He has two very important women in his life, who represent the two sides of his conflict. His wife, Mildred, is an ordinary citizen, who follows the trends of society. Deep down though, she is very unhappy with her life. Clarisse, a 17 year old neighbor of Montag’s, is very unorthodox. She does not fit in with society, but she is satisfied with her life. These two women are major influences on Montag throughout the entire novel.
It is almost as if Mildred and Clarisse are Montag’s conscience and they are giving him choices on how to act and what to believe. It is like they are the two sides of a coin. Mildred is tails, the negative side, that is telling him to stay normal and not to be different from society. Clarisse is heads, the positive side. She opens his eyes to different perspectives and ideas that he did not realize he was missing. If he had only had one of these influences in his life, he would never have changed. If he had never met Clarisse, he would have kept living a normal life as a fireman, suppressing any doubts he had. If he did not have Mildred’s unhappiness to compare to Clarisse, then Clarisse’s impact would not have been nearly as significant as it was. Together they gave Montag enough of a push to break free from society. According to The Internet Movie Database, a movie was made based on the novel of Fahrenheit 415 in 1966. Clarisse and Mildred were played by the same actress, Julie Christie. The director was trying to symbolize this relationship between them and how it affected Montag.
Mildred and Clarisse are polar opposites. Mildred accepts the censorship of books without questioning it. She escapes from reality by immersing herself in the programs on her wall televisions and by listening to her seashell radio. She even attempts to commit suicide due to her unhappiness, like many of her fellow citizens. Clarisse is very different however. She represents the need for change in society rather than going with the crowd. She acts completely different than anyone else Montag knows, yet she is also happier than anyone he has ever met. She embraces nature, love and other emotions, rather than hiding from them like most people do with the wall televisions. Another large difference between them is the level of communication they have with other people. Mildred does not talk to Montag very often because she is to involved with her television and radio. Clarisse on the other hand, is more than willing to talk to Montag about any subject she can think of.
When Montag and Clarisse first meet, he walks her home. Montag asks why the lights are all still on. Clarisse tells him that her family is talking around the dinner table. This surprises Montag and he asks “But what do you talk about?”, because he is not used to having real conversations with anyone. This is because Mildred feels that her family is the families in the soap operas on the wall televisions, and she would rather interact with them then Montag.
In the final flip of the coin, which in Mildred and Clarisse, Mildred ends up betraying Montag by turning him in for keeping books he was supposed to burn, and Clarisse disappears and is presumed dead. With those events happening, it would seem that the coin landed on tails, Mildred’s negative side. In fact, it landed on heads, Clarisse’s positive side. It was these events that drove Montag to rebel against society, which is what Clarisse would have wanted him to do. These two women, who are so totally different from one another, have a combined impact upon Montag which is pivotal. Without them, he would have just been another fireman who was vaguely unhappy with his life without really knowing why.