How is the element of the restriction of information contained within Fahrenheit 451?

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The element of the restriction of information is contained within Fahrenheit 451 through the theme of censorship. Books are banned, and independent thought and introspection are effectively suppressed.

In this novel, firemen play an important role within a society that seeks to restrict information. The protagonist , Guy Montag, is...

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The element of the restriction of information is contained within Fahrenheit 451 through the theme of censorship. Books are banned, and independent thought and introspection are effectively suppressed.

In this novel, firemen play an important role within a society that seeks to restrict information. The protagonist, Guy Montag, is a fireman whose job is to burn any and all books, the ownership of which is a crime. The firemen have a robotic hound for sniffing out books and book owners, and instead of dispensing water, their hoses dispense kerosene. Montag’s job is to destroy what is viewed as society’s greatest threat—the independent ideas found in books. Only by restricting information, by preventing the seeds of independent thinking, does the ruling class believe they can maintain law and order. The censorship of information is of paramount importance.

Even schools are characterized as lacking substance and value. Clarisse, a teenager, is portrayed as the antithesis of the novel’s dystopian ideals because she espouses a more meaningful and introspective way of life. She dismisses school as a place where students are pumped full of meaningless information as a means of assimilating them into a state of ignorance:

We never ask questions, or at least most don’t; they just run the answers at you, bing, bing, bing, and us sitting there. ... It’s a lot of funnels and a lot of water poured down the spout and out the bottom. (Chapter 1)

Restricting information neatly aligns with one of the novel’s themes: that ignorance is bliss. Beatty, the captain of the fire department, tells Montag that people “can stay happy all the time” because of a lack of mental activity. Instead, physical activity is emphasized, as Beatty preaches in chapter 1:

More sports for everyone. ... you don’t have to think. ... People want to be happy, isn’t that right ... Don’t we keep them moving, don’t we give them fun? That’s all we live for, isn’t it? For pleasure, for titillation?

The entire society of Fahrenheit 451 is based on the restriction of information. The banning and burning of books not only prevent a flow of information—they also prevent independent thinking. Through the use of censorship, the citizens of the novel are portrayed as docile and malleable servants of their government, happy to comply with the restrictions of totalitarianism.

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