What is the significance of Mildred's TV script in Fahrenheit 451?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Mildred, Montag's wife, is obsessed with television, like many people in the novel's society. Most entertainment and news is broadcast over television, controlled by the government. At one point, Mildred is seen reading a TV script, which she describes:

She didn't look up from her script again. "Well, this is a play comes on the wall-to-wall circuit in ten minutes. They mailed me my part this morning. I sent in some box-tops. They write the script with one part missing. It's a new idea."
(Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Google Books)

The idea is that instead of passively watching scripted entertainment, people now participate directly; in this case, a popular show chooses an audience member to play the live role of a minor character. In this fashion, the audience can pretend that they are active in their entertainment, even though the character and script are written by others. Her happy participation in the television program shows the level to which society is manipulated by television, and her own level of obsession with popular culture as defined by television.


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