Apply this essential question to the novel Fahrenheit 451:  What are the dangers involved when a large population is controlled by a smaller group that is in power? 

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One of the significant themes throughout the novel Fahrenheit 451 deals with government censorship. Bradbury illustrates the ways in which an authoritarian government controls the population by censoring individuals who disagree with government policy and using violence as a means of suppressing the masses. Interestingly, Captain Beatty explains to Montag that the majority of the population passively accepts the censorship laws in favor of condensed, superficial entertainment. Although Bradbury does not directly state whether or not a small group of officials is in charge of the dystopian society, it is evident that the government's view of intellectualism is widely accepted. This propagated belief that literature and intellectualism are harmful spread throughout society with the aid of government agencies like the firefighters. The government in the novel sought to eliminate independent thought and expression, which resulted in a violent, dangerous, and oppressed society. By threatening the population with imprisonment or death, the citizens of the dystopian society conformed to government ideology. In Bradbury's dystopian society, the larger population is not able to express their personal opinions and are at the mercy of the totalitarian government. The government in Fahrenheit 451 engages in frequent warfare, and intellectuals live in fear, which leaves the citizens voiceless and oppressed. When a smaller government has the ability to control the majority of the population, individual rights become vulnerable and are often eliminated through threats of violence or imprisonment.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial