My views on the Sci-Fi novel, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.
Have you ever been annoyed by a young child pestering you with “dumb” questions; ‘Why are babies made in hospitals?’ ‘Why is the sky blue?’. Well asking “why” is fundamental to the fact that negative things will occur, such as losing your individual rights, your right to think, and your right to understand right
from wrong, if you don’t ask “why”.
By not asking why, people lose their individual rights, as shown in Fahrenheit 451. For instance, in the story it is prohibited to drive slowly. This regulation does not allow you to choose at which speed you would like to drive at. This law is also not practical because it restricts your lifestyle. Also, it is unorthodox for people to just “take a walk”. Once again, this restricts your lifestyle. Furthermore, this law encourages people to stay home and watch TV, resulting in huge amounts of people immersing themselves in television and losing not only their rights but their individuality. This is due to the fact that people steadily regard TV as their life and the people in it their family (Mildred).
Since most of their time is spent watching TV, what happens is a decline in mental energy. This can be seen in Mildred and how each day of her life goes by in a regular and drab way (watches TV constantly with a passion, does not ask questions, no curiosity whatsoever in the things that happen around her; e.g.: books). The fact that people cannot drive slowly and are not allowed walks hurts the society and also creates ignorance in the people that live in the society.
People are brainwashed and controlled by the government in Fahrenheit 451 due to the fact that they do not ask “why”. A good example of government control is much of the society’s addiction to television. Since people are addicted to TV, and are therefore influenced by the messages that stream out of it, it could be deduced that the fear of books may have been promulgated by television. This conclusion could be drawn up because people do whatever the TV tells them to do (e.g.: people open windows to look for Montag). Another strange thing in the book is the fact that there is a war going on, and no one seems to care about it. When Mildred had the party at her house, her friends briefly spoke on the subject of the war and how their husbands were involved in it, but none of them seemed worried at all about the situation that they faced.
All out nuclear war and the threat of a loved one dying is enough to make me scared, and yet the entourage shrugs it off and continues to talk about TV programs and shows. This scene paints a vivid description of how television has become the focal point of people’s lives. TV (as depicted in Fahrenheit 451) has taken precedence over all other activities that do not correlate with it (e.g.: Mildred and Montag, talking to real family.). The fact that people are addicted to TV shows the government’s power and control over society.
In Fahrenheit 451, illogical fear and pleasure, and illogical right and wrong may stem from the fact that the general public does not ask “why”. In the novel, books are considered taboo, and people exhibit a strange irrational fear of books. An example of irrational fear is demonstrated when Mildred finds the books and tries to burn one in the incinerator. Eventually, Mildred’s irrational fear makes her pull the alarm on Montag. This is irrational because by burning the house, she kills her “family” and she also ends up with no home to live in. Whether this fear stems from the fact that Firemen burn houses and on some occasions burn the people in them, is unknown. But, what one can infer of the text is the fact that, since Mildred felt it necessary to pull the alarm because of the books, and in turn she knew she would destroy her home and “family”, does this mean that Mildred cares more about abiding by the law than protecting her “loved ones”?
Even though she spends all her time with “the family”, she’d have them all burned over a couple of books? Even though she doesn’t even understand why books are bad, she would throw her “family” away over literature that she could easily have burned herself? This shows the magnitude of the government’s ability to control the society and the individuals who live in it. The government’s laws and regulations override the need for entertainment, so pleasing the government is more important to these people than anything else, even the TV which the government sends broadcasts out for that people are addicted to. Another key thing in this novel is the fact that people watch all these programs, but do not ever question whether it’s morally right (which in itself is a paradox because our views of right and wrong and the books views of right and wrong are flipped.)
An excellent example of this is when the Hound chases Montag and the entire debacle is released on TV. People enjoy watching this yet don’t ask if this enjoyment comes at the cost of someone else’s misfortune (Hypocritical also since some of our TV shows include programs like COPS, which documents cops capturing baddies and putting them in jail.). One of the most important facets of human nature, curiosity and the need to ask why, are neglected and replaced with ignorance. This leads to an illogical sense of fear and pleasure, and illogical right and wrong.
The next time you watch a TV show, or are following some fad you saw on TV, consider why you’re doing it. By conforming to society’s whims, you place yourself in a position where you may lose your individuality, as portrayed in Fahrenheit 451. In the story it is explained by Beatty that censoring was a direct result of minorities complaining about books. So in turn more and more books were censored, when the government had an epiphany, ‘why don’t we just burn all books?’. So chew over this, the people in Fahrenheit 451 chose to live in an ignorant society in trade for a bit of safety and happiness, but also consider this:
“Those who would trade in their freedom for protection deserve neither.”
Believed to be by Benjamin Franklin