Beatty tries to make Montag doubt his new ideas by quoting some famous authors. Discuss the meaning of the quotes and explain how they contradict one another. Is Beatty effective in bringing Montag...

Beatty tries to make Montag doubt his new ideas by quoting some famous authors. Discuss the meaning of the quotes and explain how they contradict one another. Is Beatty effective in bringing Montag back in? What does he say that upsets Montag?

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lusie0520 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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This is a “conversation” between Beatty and Montag.  Beatty is telling Montag about a dream he had.  Montag was having a discussion with Beatty in the dream, so none of the words here are really coming from Montag.

"Sweet food of sweetly uttered knowledge," Sir Philip Sidney said. From Defense of Poesy, by Sir Philip Sydney. 

The quotation indicates that Beatty knows that nothing in the world is as sweet as knowledge. However, he contradicts himself when he says:

"Words are like leaves and where they most abound, Much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found." Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism

Beatty uses this quotation to show the reader that people say many things, but that does not mean all of what they say makes sense.

And you, quoting Dr. Johnson, said "Knowledge is more than equivalent to force!" from Rasselas by Samuel Johnson. 

Beatty continues to debate with himself, predicting what Montag would say.  Here, he is saying that knowledge is even more important than strength.

And I said, "Well, Dr. Johnson also said, dear boy, that 'He is no wise man that will quit a certainty for an uncertainty.'"

Also from Samuel Johnson, the quotation means that it would be unwise for Montag to quit the life he knows and venture into the unknown.

And you said, quoting, "Truth will come to light, murder will not be hid long!" This is from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.

Beatty is suggesting that Montag’s response would be that the truth will be revealed.

And I cried in good humour, "Oh God, he speaks only of his horse!" And "The Devil can cite Scripture for his purpose."

Also from Merchant of Venice, Beatty’s reply to Montag is that anyone can twist words to suit their own purpose (ironic, since that is exactly what Beatty is doing).

And you yelled, "This age thinks better of a gilded fool, than of a threadbare saint in wisdom's school!" From Thomas Dekker, Old Fortunatus. 

Beatty is saying that Montag would reply that people are more impressed by the way people look than by their education, knowledge, or behavior.

And I whispered gently, "The dignity of truth is lost with much protesting." Ben Jonson, Cateline: His Conspiracy

Beatty is suggesting that Montag retain his dignity by not arguing.  Arguing takes away from the truth.

And you screamed, "Carcasses bleed at the sight of the murderer!" Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy.    

Beatty is saying that Montag feels Beatty is the murderer (of books, of freedoms).  Robert Burton wrote about tolerance, especially religious tolerance, the kind of tolerance that does not exist in Montag’s world.

And I said, patting your hand, "What, do I give you trench mouth?"

This is not a literary allusion, but it is an allusion to trench mouth, a disease common among soldiers in the trenches during WWI.  Beatty seems to be suggesting that the words he is putting into Montag’s mouth are diseased.

And you shrieked, "Knowledge is power!" Francis Bacon, Meditationes Sacrae. 

Montag’s “reply” is to just yell back that because he has knowledge, he has power.

and "A dwarf on a giant's shoulders of the furthest of the two!" is a paraphrase from Coleridge.

This seems to indicate that although Montag may be insignificant, he can change the world.

and I summed my side up with rare serenity in, "The folly of mistaking a metaphor for a proof, a torrent of verbiage for a spring of…” Paul Valéry, Introduction to the Method of Leonardo da Vinci.

In this case, Bradbury paraphrased the quotation. The actual quotation says:

"The folly of mistaking a paradox for a discovery, a metaphor for a proof, a torrent of verbiage for a spring of capital truths, and oneself for an oracle, is inborn ...”

In other words, according to Beatty, human beings often misunderstand what they hear or see, and they believe in themselves (“oneself for an oracle”) when they should not.

At the end of the conversation, Montag is upset because Beatty says he used the very books Montag loved against Montag in his argument.  He also says that at the end of his “dream” Montag gets on the Salamander and does what Beatty tells him to do.  Montag, who is listening to Faber and already rebelling against Beatty, is disturbed by the thought that in the dream, he continued to follow Beatty.

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