Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451

Ray Bradbury captivates his reader from the very beginning in Fahrenheit 451 with the opening lines ‘It was a pleasure to burn.’ This immediately introduces the books protagonist, fireman, Guy Montag. Bradbury’s dystopian fiction is set in a world where books are illegal and hidden away deep in houses, it is the job of the firemen to start fires and burn the books. The very premise of the novel cause’s unease in readers, the concept of books being illegal seems absurd but as the novel develops it becomes increasingly hard not to see the parallels between Bradbury’s bleak portrayal of the future and our current society.

Picking up pace from the very beginning Montag meets Clarisse who introduces herself as ‘seventeen and insane.’ Clarisse and her family appear to be the only ones who remember the past and that before houses were made fireproof firemen use to put out fires and not start them. Montag, however, does not remember this but begins to feel a deep void. As Clarisse continues to challenge Montags’ perception of his life she begs him to remember the last time he was happy but more importantly she challenges him to question why. Clarisse acts as a catalyst for Montags rebellion so it is not surprising when she suddenly goes missing that the scales begin to tip and Montag very quickly finds himself under the scrutiny of the firemen and the totalitarian society.

In a society that has become centred on a spectacle Montags wife, Mildred, spends nearly all of her time with the television ‘family.’ After Mildred attempts suicide Montag begins to believe that there has to be more and this desire for more and an insatiable curiosity leads him to hide books in his house. However, with an all seeing society, brainwashed wife and a man thirsty for all the literature that has been deprived it is no long before Montag is forced to burn down his own house causing a chain of events that lead to him being on the run. However, when the chase becomes broadcasted in every house in the city and a mechanical hound, an unbeatable and relentless killing machine, is hot on his tracks where can he run too? When the whole of the city is watching can there be any escape? As Montag watches his pursuers on TV the aspect of reality and society as spectacle is pushed to the extreme.

Fahrenheit 451 was a quick paced read that I found very difficult to put down, the novel is captivating and raises important questions about society and spectacle but more importantly it emphasises the importance of literature in our day to day lives, ultimately it makes you think and value a little more just what pleasure it is to be able to read what we like, when we like and where we like. 

By Eleanor Boyce

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
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