Individualism And Individuality In Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451

1592 Words7 Pages
“We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against” (Bradbury, 55-56). Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is set in a bleak dystopian future in which books are illegal, freethinking is considered taboo and dangerous, and entertainment like TV and racing cars is used to control the masses. In this government controlled society, where the public is brainwashed in order to create a seemingly perfect world, standing apart from the majority is frowned upon and regarded as a threat against society. Firemen no longer put out fires and save lives in this world, but instead destroy and burn all books, along with the houses in which they are hidden. If a person breaks the social contract by reading books, asking questions, or doing anything other than watching the “parlors” or listening to the “seashells”, that person could be arrested or killed in order to protect the integrity of the system. Individuality is viewed as rebelling against the conformity set by the government and is punished severely. This novel uses the juxtaposition of characters like Clarisse and Montag, who represent free thought and self-expression, and those who have completely succumbed to their environment, like Beatty and Mildred, to highlight the contrast between danger of conformity and the significance of individuality.
The society in which Fahrenheit 451 is set is characterized by its pleasure-seeking and distraction-filled culture, intolerance of self-expression and mindless entertainment. Through the sudden, ‘accidental’, death of Clarisse and the woman who refused to leave her house as the firemen burned all her books, the novel proves this society's need to eliminate anyone who goes against the general social conformity. As Beatty explains how their world came to be as it is, Montag asks about Clarisse and Beatty responds, “The girl? She was a time bomb. The poor girl's better off dead,” and then adds, “Luckily, queer ones like her don't happen often. We know how to nip most of them in the bud, early” (57). Through his explanation of their current society,
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