“Fahrenheit 451”: Dystopia’s Grip & Montag’s Defiance
Burning Books: Society’s Disturbing Standard
Dystopia is “a world in which everything is imperfect, and everything goes terribly wrong.” Fahrenheit 451’s society is living in this type of world, and it is very different from the society that we live in today. In Fahrenheit 451, firemen burn both books and the houses that contain them. People are no longer defined by their emotions and actually seem to exist without them, and being different from everyone is unusual. A fireman in Fahrenheit 451 named Guy Montag is living to the standards that the government had set for them. The standards affect Montag heavily and force him to respond.
One of the standards is that people are not allowed to own and read books. If someone owns a book, their home and the books are set on fire. This standard affects Montag in many ways. When Montag met Clarisse McClellan, Montag’s new cheerful teenage neighbor, he began to question if his happiness was real. Clarisse causes Montag to develop his curiosity by telling him about the past and helping him discover the real happiness that he hasn’t experienced in his life for quite some time. Montag realizes that he must change when he sees an old woman who chooses to burn her books because she loves her books and when Mildred tells him that the McClellan moved because Clarisses died in an accident.
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Montag vs. The Norm: From Ignorance to Awakening
Another standard that is set by the government for society is that people value entertainment over all things. Montag is affected by this standard because of her wife, Mildred. Montag does not really know much about his wife. All he knows about her is that she is fascinated by the deceptive pictures on the TV. They don’t really know anything about each other and their past. Mildred is more fascinated by her three-wall TV than Montag and their relationship. She uses the TV as an escape from reality. Montag’s discoveries about his meaningless relationship with Mildred are hard for him to express.
In Montag’s society, being different is counted as threatening to society. When he made his realization about changing his life, he asked Faber to help him understand books. Montag tries to help Mildred and her friends to see the reality, but he fails. After a while, Mildred, his own wife, turned on the fire alarm, to which Beatty ordered Montag to burn his own house, but he refused to do it. He turns a fire liquid to Beatty, which causes him to collapse. After that, Montag becomes a criminal. He is now the enemy of everyone and wanted. Now, Montag must escape in order to not be punished for not obeying the laws in his society.
In conclusion, Fahrenheit 451’s society is living in a dystopia, and a fireman named Montag is affected by the standards that the government has set out for them. Some standards have a book that is extremely prohibited, and it must be burned if you get caught having it, including your house. People value entertainment more than other things, and being different is putting your life in a dangerous position.
- Adams, J. (2017). Understanding Dystopia: Origins and Manifestations. Oxford University Press.