Fahrenheit 451: The Mindlessness of Mass Culture Portrayed Through a Dystopian Society Run on Censorship
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is a novel that shows the dystopia of a city that is governed through censorship and restriction of knowledge; as well as misuse of technology. Books are being burned in a failing attempt to help the society be happier. This ends up creating a dystopia instead of a utopia because the people become mindless. Fahrenheit develops and illustrates the theme of mindlessness of mass culture through irony, imagery and allusion.
The irony demonstrated in the society of Fahrenheit 451 shows the mindlessness of mass culture. There are more suicide attempts in a city meant to promote happiness through the restriction of knowledge. (15) “we get these cases nine or ten a night. Got so many, starting a few years ago, we had the special machines built.” In this quote, people continually overdose on sleeping pills. That is because in a world where you cannot say sad things, people end up keeping their sad thoughts to their selves. We can not pretend that sad thoughts do not exist. This makes a happier society very sad which is ironic.
Alongside irony, another big literary device used in the text is imagery. The imagery in Fahrenheit helps develop the theme of mindlessness of mass culture. In the quote, the parlor walls are too intense for Montag and he is disgusted at his experience. (45)” A great thunderstorm of sound gushed from the walls. Music bombarded him at such an immense volume that his bones were almost shaken from their tendons.” The image being portrayed is the intensity of entertainment being blasted into the mindless mass of this dystopia. Montag, being a person who doesn’t go in the parlor finds it too intense. Nobody normal should be accepting these intense experiences as entertainment, people are just so bored they need exciment blasted into them. This goes to show how irregular the entertainment addiction really is.
Furthermore, Fahrenheit uses multiple literary devices. Another is allusion. Fahrenheit 451 alludes to the poem “Dover beach”. The poem, written by Matthew Arnold, is demonstrated in the society of Fahrenheit 451.
“Ah, love, let us be true to one another! for the world, which seems To lie before us like a land of dreams, So various, so beautiful, so new, Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain; And we are here as on a darkling plain Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night.”
In the society of dover beach, everyone is happy and works. The sea and “Information” are full. As the “Tides recede” the information goes down and so does happiness. The water and sea represent what information is being provided to the people. This is similar to what happened in Fahrenheit where the information was withdrawn, and the society is fueled by lies rather than truth, and “ignorant armies clash by night.” There are also confused alarms of struggle and flight. These show the alarms of the firemen, of which most do not understand what they are doing when they are burning books. The book accurately shows the effects of censorship on mass culture, they become mindless.
In conclusion, through the use of irony, imagery and allusion in a dystopian society run by lies, and book burning, Fahrenheit 451 successfully portrays the theme of mindlessness of mass culture.
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