In Fahrenheit 451, what are at least 3 elements of figurative language? Explain the purpose and effect of each.

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juergems eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ray Bradbury tends to use a lot of figurative language in his writing. Metaphor, simile, personification, hyperbole, and symbolism are all present in Fahrenheit 451. 

1) Here is an example of a simile that Bradbury uses to describe how Montag views his wife Mildred: 

"His wife stretched out on the bed, uncovered and cold, like a body displayed on the lid of a tomb..." 

This is very effective because it shows just how lacking in any sort of liveliness Mildred is. This sentence is describing a view of Mildred laying on the bed, before Montag has become aware that she is laying motionless because she has overdosed on sleeping pills. Montag does not at first see the difference, because this is the way Mildred always looks. Pale with bleached hair, unmoving, only ever really showing interest in the imaginary world of television characters from the 'parlour wall.' This piece of figurative language exemplifies how much like a walking corpse Mildred is in her day to day life, especially in comparison to Clarisse. 

2) Here is an example that uses personification: 

"It fed in silence with an occasional sound of inner suffocation and blind searching."

This is referring to the machine that is used to pump Mildred's stomach after her overdose. This figurative language is used to make the machine seem like an animal or a beast, something quite fearful to behold, that is moving through Mildred with a mind of its own. This description heightens the horror of the situation, even while the operators of the machines are uncaring. 

3) This example uses metaphor: 

"And he stumbled along the alley in the dark. A shotgun blast went off in his leg every time he put it down..."

This is describing the extreme pain that Montag feels in his leg, running away after the Mechanical Hound has attacked him. This metaphor is used to tell us that the pain in his leg is so bad that putting weight on it feels like being shot, yet Montag, as a wanted man, has to keep running. This description lets us know just how much danger he is in. 


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Fahrenheit 451

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