Analysis of The Hapiness Conspiracy and Fahrenheit 451

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Happiness is a reprise from the many trials and turmoil of life, and so it is natural that we should actively seek it. Ironically though, in our naïve belief that we can somehow augment the amount of happiness in our world, we are actually making our world more depressing to live in. Both John F. Schumaker, in The Happiness Conspiracy, and Ray Bradbury, in Fahrenheit 451, argue that our myopic pursuit of happiness is actually counterproductive. The two authors attempt to persuade the reader that happiness is, and should be, an almost-serendipitous byproduct of a truly fulfilling life, and therefore should not be an explicit objective.

In his essay, Schumaker discusses how our lives have devolved to being merely means to an end. We do
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Schumaker argues that in the “modern consumer society,” the bar has been set so high that it is virtually impossible to surpass it, and further, as stated by the law of diminishing returns, if we continue on our current trajectory, we will soon find ourselves gloomier than ever.

Like Schumaker, Bradbury also believes that our society is too obsessed with eliminating the negatives in life, and establishes that this is a ruinous endeavour through an absence of evidence argument. In the utopian world that he describes in his novel Fahrenheit 451, that critical point at which society is so perfect that genuine happiness, a term that is necessarily defined by its antithesis, depression, becomes meaningless, has already been reached. The intention of the fictional authorities is ostensibly to satisfy the population — as Captain Beatty tells Montag, “[they’re] the Happiness Boys, the Dixie Duo” (61) — but as a direct result of these efforts, anything remotely controversial or that could bring about dissent is destroyed, and happiness, emotions, and life in general loses its meaning. Bradbury describes several situations in which this is the case. Relationships, both platonic and intimate, are a significant part of a satisfying and happy life on our world, but in Montag’s, they exist only in writing. Montag’s wife Mildred shuns her real family and much prefers instead to