I have an English project in which I have to compare an allusion from Fahrenheit 451 to its source. The allusion is "burning bright," which is mentioned in a poem "The Tyger" by William Blake, but I'm not really sure.
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The tiger is a beautiful yet destructive force, like Montag now that he has been set free.
There are two types of burning going on here. There is the literal burning, and the figurative burning. A literal burning is the actual burning of Montag’s house, as a result of Mildred’s calling the firemen on him (also a reference possibly to him turning the torch on Beatty), and the literal burning of the city when the people of Montag’s world finally turn on each other. There is also the figurative burning existing inside Montag now that he knows, and burns with the desire to be more, and know more. Montag burns with desire.
The allusion is to William Blake’s poem, “The Tyger”, which includes references to the tiger but also makes a comparison to the creation of mankind and the existence of evil.
Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
The tiger is beautiful, yet destructive. Although a tiger is an animal and not exactly passionate, it\ has an animal’s passion. This is what Blake refers to. By making this specific reference to the poem, and to the tiger, Bradbury refers us in two ways to the tiger’s specific animalistic passion, and Montag’s hunger. He also refers to the actual burning that has happened and is about to happen. Thus the allusion is both an allusion and not an allusion. It’s also just handy alliteration. Alliteration is the repetition of two consonants. It’s not that unusual of a saying, because of the alliteration. This does not make it not an allusion, but it does give it double meaning.
Montag is all consumed by an inner fire. He wants to see. He wants to learn. He wants to know that there is more out there, and that there are books, and people who love books, and another life is possible. He goes almost insane with it. It is represented in the metaphorical and literal burning.
And what lights the sun? Its own fire. And the sun goes on, day after day, burning and burning. The sun and time. The sun and time and burning. Burning. The river bobbled him along gently. Burning. (Part III)
In the end, the society is unsustainable. It destroys itself. The entire city burns, and Montag got out just in time, to see it from a distance. The cycle is complete, and the figurative becomes literal. Society can begin again.
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