In his novel Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury is clearly against censorship. Why is censorship so dangerous in Bradbury’s futuristic world?

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vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In his novel titled Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury satirizes censorship in a futuristic society for a number of reasons, including the following:

  • Censorship of books encourages intellectual complacency. The less people read, the less they think for themselves. The less they think for themselves, the easier they are to manipulate and control. The easier they are to manipulate and control, the less likely they are to resist the government, especially when it commits acts of violence and engages in war.
  • Censorship of books and other reading materials encourages people to define happiness in very shallow and superficial ways, ways mainly centered around material desires and satisfactions.
  • The less often that people are able to choose their own reading materials and thus think for themselves, the more likely society is to become uniform and homogeneous. People will have fewer independent thoughts, innovation will be stifled, and fewer and fewer people will be either willing or able to operate as individuals. This kind of social sameness and stultifying equality is, of course, the ideal of the society Bradbury depicts.  As Beatty explains at one point,

“We must all be alike. Not everyone is born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone is 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. So! A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it.”

  • Censorship of books and other reading material cuts one off from the great minds and great thoughts of the past. People thus operate in an intellectual vacuum (to the extent that they even think at all). They are unable to profit from the worthy thoughts of the past and are unable to avoid the mistakes made in the past.
  • Censorship cuts people off from sources of beauty, especially the beauty preserved in great works of literature. To the extent that contact with beauty enriches the lives of people who read, the people Bradbury depicts are people who live greatly impoverished existences.