The Power of Language in Fahrenheit 451

Decent Essays
The Power of Language in Fahrenheit 451 In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 there are those who defend the cause of language; those who attempt to destroy the value of words and those who are victims of the abuse of power over language and thought, wielded by the government. The fireman, Montag, attempts to use language as weapon against the entrenched ignorance of his dystopian world. Conversely, the Fire Chief Beatty, uses the power of language as a weapon against those who would free humanity from the tyranny of ignorance. In the scene where Montag reads poetry to ‘the ladies’, their subconscious response to the poem ‘Dover Beach’ reveals the capacity of imagery to transform a listener. Mildred Montag and her “bunch” of ladies are…show more content…
Beatty is a complex, contradictory character that (hypocritically) uses his vast knowledge of literature, history and philosophy against all those who attempt to preserve the value of knowledge. After the “firemen”- whose job is to set fire to books- burn down Mrs Blake’s house full of books, with her inside, Montag questions Beatty about her final words. “Play the man Master Ridley; we shall this day light a candle…as I trust shall never be put out” said Mrs Blake shortly before striking the match herself, denying the firemen the personal satisfaction of burning her books. Beatty responds to Montag immediately saying “a man named Latimer said that to a man named Nicholas Ridley, as they were being burnt alive at Oxford, for heresy, on October 16, 1555.” Latimer and Ridley can be described as martyrs to the cause of free thinking. This intensifies the irony that Beatty, an agent against radical thinking, should be so well acquainted with this story. Beatty thus demonstrates an encyclopaedic knowledge of the past while simultaneously condemning those who read and preserve history. Beatty uses his knowledge to attack Montag after the fireman has made the decision to join the radicals and to oppose the burning of books. Montag returns to the fire station in order to surrender a book, creating the illusion of conforming to Beatty’s expectations. Before Montag has an opportunity to speak Beatty begins to confound him with contradictory statements from
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