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Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451

Published in 1953, Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 has become a classic of science fiction as well as a powerful statement against government control. The name of the book is derived from the temperature at which books burn, and the burning books become a metaphor for the anti-intellectual violence that pervades the novel. This research paper will examine the role of violence in Fahrenheit 451 and discuss why this is central to the theme of censorship and conformity. This examination will include the following:

  • The violent destruction of knowledge, in the form of burning books and homes
  • The violent use of technology, as illustrated by the mechanical hounds and flying crematoriums.
  • Research Papers should demonstrate that violence plays a significant role by creating a sense of fear among the masses, and enforcing the rule of an oppressive society.

Violence and Fahrenheit 451

Violence is a key element in Fahrenheit 451 for several reasons. First, the book is set in a violent society in which firemen no longer put fires out, but starts them as a form of violent punishment for those who are found to possess books. In many respects, the violence in the novel is directed at knowledge, and the purpose of the violence is to destroy knowledge by eliminating those who insist on acquiring and preserving it. Meanwhile, the threat of violence has turned the population into quiet, non-threatening citizens who fear the violence of society, and remain in their homes with televisions and sleeping pills to comfort them.

The presence of a mechanical hound exemplifies the violence in Fahrenheit 451. Unlike a violent act committed by a human, who may be acting out of revenge or compassion, the hound represents the cold, heartless technological society that has transformed violence into a form that supports its agenda. In other words, the twenty-fourth century society depicted in the novel uses violent technology to destroy knowledge and control its citizens, rather than using technology to help citizens and control violence.

The violence imposed by the mechanical hounds is intense. The possession of books is illegal, and the hound is used to pursue those who have been deemed criminals because a book has been found in their house. Mechanical hounds are programmed to track the scents of free thinkers and those who are found with books and try to escape. The hounds are cold, calculating killing machines that are designed only to destroy the target for which they have been programmed. After the hounds have done their work, the bodies of criminals are burned in helicopter crematoriums.

Research on Fahrenheit 451 Characters

The novel's main characters are victims of the violent nature of society. Although he has read many books, Chief Beatty remains a true believe in the benefits of controlled society. Montag is confused, attempting to do the right thing as a firefighter, but soon discovers the benefits of books and knowledge and danger of censorship and an oppressive, violent society. When Montag discovers that his wife, Millie, has turned him in as a criminal, and he is ordered to burn down his own house, the critical, violent confrontation between Montag and Beatty, in which Beatty is killed and his body burned. This is followed by a violent confrontation with the mechanical hound, in which Montag fights for his life and with a leg that feels like "a chunk of burnt pinelog he was carrying along as a penance for some obscure sin". Montag leaves the city to escape the violence that created mindless citizens and enforced the rule of an oppressive society.

The novel's final act of ultimate violence is a war that destroyed the city in which Montag once lived. This destruction is the natural consequence of extreme violence portrayed in Fahrenheit 451. A society that depends on violence, as portrayed by the burning of books and homes, as well as the mechanical hounds, often gives rise to more violence. In this story, the violence came from both inside and outside. Montag's violent confrontation with Beatty came from within, and the war from outside, yet both were violent acts that were determined to destroy a violent society with violent means. As the above discussion demonstrates, violence played a significant role in Fahrenheit 451.

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