Do you think our TV programmes are similar to Mildred's parlor family?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Great question that forces us to ask what the role of Mildred is in this novel and how she represents how society has changed in this futuristic dystopia.

One of the possible futures that Fahrenheit 451 presents us with is a world where simulation replaces reality. Mildred has entered this simulated world hook, line and sinker. We know that she has cajoled Montag into buying a third screen at great expense, and really wants a 4th so that she can be completely surrounded by her friends. We also know that she continually places the seashells in her ear. She appears to do everything she possibly can to live in a simulated world rather than in the real one. The "family" that the screens present her with has more reality for her than her own relationship with her husband. Her and her friends do everything they can to keep the real world at bay, though it is interesting that the book makes clear how superficial some of these steps are. Mildred's suicide attempt clearly indicates her divided and empty nature, and when Montag reads "Dover Beach" to Mildred and her friends, the tears it evokes in them indicates that, subconsciously at least, they are aware of the division within them.

The world of this novel then presents a world where technology has become so advanced and as it has advanced relationships have declined so that one has replaced the other. I don't necessarily think we are there yet, though it does present a chilling possibility when we think about how many hours people watch TV and at times seem to be more attached to the characters within soaps than their own friends and family. Time will tell...

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Fahrenheit 451

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