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Ray Bradbury uses allusions masterfully throughout his book, Fahrenheit 451. The title of the first section, "The Hearth and the Salamander," is the first example. The hearth is where fire burns hot and alludes to the destruction of books, which in turn represent knowledge and new ideas. Opposing the hearth is the salamander, an amphibian once thought to be able to survive fire. The allusion here signifies that it is impossible to completely rid the world of free thought. The first allusion of the hearth is one of violence, where the second is one of hope and possibility. On page 50 of Fahrenheit, is the quote, "We burnt copies of Dante and Swift and Marcus Aurelius." This is actually two allusions in one: Dante was born in 1265 and went on to write several works-his most famous being The Divine Comedy. Jonathan Swift, who wrote Gulliver's Travels, was born in 1667, and Marcus Aurelius was the emperor of Rome, beginning in about 161 A.D. First, this allusion is one of historical significance-both Dante's and Swift's works have survived all of this time, and burning them is a violent act to destroy, not just knowledge, but history as well. Secondly, Marcus Aurelius, though a ruler who wanted the best for Rome, thought Christians were out to destroy Rome and therefore, persecuted them throughout his reign. He made it his mission to destroy them. He, of course, did not succeed but created much turmoil during his time as emperor. He, too, is part of that history that should not be forgotten. There is also a not so subtle hint here that it is important to learn from our history.
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