What is the image of women and the media presented in the novel, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury?

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clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In order to answer this question, I would encourage you to look at Mildred.  Consider what she is doing most of her scenes in the book.

If she is not tuned out of reality by being plugged in to the "mosquitos" in her ears or sitting in front of the three-walled (television-type) programs, she is engaged in shallow conversation about one of the two.  The majority of her conversation revolves around the "family" she has with her interactive programs.  She has lost touch with her husband and her girlfriends seem as shallow and soul-less as she does.  On the other hand, while Millie does come across as shallow and soul-less, we cannot ignore that upon first meeting her in the novel, she has overdosed on sleeping pills.  We have to wonder, is she also unhappy?

Consider also, that the only other female of any importance in the book, Clarisse, is looked at as a freak of society.  Given this portrayal of women, any number of hasty generalizations could be made about the impact of the media on women in the novel.  Women are the most easily influenced and entertained by the media.  Women do not need to think for themselves.  Women who do think for themselves and remain uninfluenced by the media are social outcasts and should be feared.

It seems Millie portrays the sense of emptiness that pervades this society, but as a woman, we see that her solution is inactive, rather than proactive (like her husband).  Perhaps the message is that the media, for women especially, has replaced a desire for progress and growth and filled it with apathy, which has reulted in a loss of identity and hope.

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Fahrenheit 451

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