What are some metaphors in the book Fahrenheit 451?

Some metaphors in the book Fahrenheit 451 include comparing society to a "cave" (34), comparing the pages of a burning book to butterflies, and comparing a cold expression to a "mask of ice" (17).

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A metaphor is a figure of speech which compares two unlike things to one another. This is not to be confused with the similar but different simile, which also compares unlike things but does so via the use of the words "like" or "as."

Ray Bradbury uses metaphors many times throughout his novel Fahrenheit 451.

One of the earliest examples of metaphor in the novel can be seen in Bradbury's description of Clarisse: "Her face was slender and milk-white." Bradbury uses a metaphor to compare Clarisse's pale skin to the whiteness of milk. He later uses a metaphor once again to describe Clarisse, this time comparing her pale face to a white crystal: "Her face, turned to him now, was fragile milk crystal."

Bradbury uses a metaphor to describe a giant hose filled with kerosene: "With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world." He compares the hose itself to a python and the kerosene in the hose to venom. This is an interesting comparison, given that pythons are non-venomous snakes. They are constrictors that kill their prey by squeezing them.

Bradbury uses a metaphor to describe burned book pages by likening them to black butterflies: "Light the first page, light the second page. Each becomes a black butterfly."

To communicate the ability of books to illuminate the dark side of society, Bradbury compares life to a face and negativity to pores: "[Books] show the pores in the face of life."

One of Bradbury's most powerful and memorable metaphors is seen near the end of the novel. In communicating the need for people to rise from destruction and rebuild society, he compares humankind to the phoenix. The phoenix is a mythological bird known for bursting into flames and being reborn from its own ashes. Bradbury says humans, like the phoenix, must be reborn and begin anew in order to rebuild their destroyed society:

There was a silly damn bird called a Phoenix back before Christ: every few hundred years he built a pyre and burned himself up. He must have been first cousin to Man. But every time he burnt himself up he sprang out of the ashes, he got himself born all over again. And it looks like we’re doing the same thing, over and over, but we’ve got one damn thing the Phoenix never had. We know the damn silly thing we just did.

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Metaphors are comparisons between two seemingly opposite things that have some common trait or relation. Bradbury utilizes numerous metaphors throughout his classic novel Fahrenheit 451 in order to express nuances, emotions, and images in an entertaining way.

Montag uses a metaphor during a conversation with his wife by saying, "Maybe the books can get us half out of the cave" (34). Montag's metaphor describes the superficial, ignorant society by comparing Bradbury's dystopian civilization to a cave.

Bradbury uses a metaphor when Montag hears Captain Beatty's voice in his head saying,

Light the first page, light the second page. Each becomes a black butterfly. Beautiful, eh? Light the third page from the second and so on, chainsmoking, chapter by chapter, all the silly things the words mean, all the false promises, all the second-hand notions and time-worn philosophies (36).

Bradbury is metaphorically comparing the burning pages of a book to black butterflies.

When Montag is attempting to comprehend the information that he is reading on the train, he is continually interrupted by the loud Denham's Dentifrice commercial blasting through the train's speakers. Montag begins to remember a time at the beach when he unsuccessfully attempted to put sand into a sieve. Bradbury uses a metaphor by equating the words Montag is reading to sand and his brain to a sieve. Bradbury writes,

There were people in the suction train but he held the book in his hands and the silly thought came to him, if you read fast and read all,  maybe some of the sand will stay in the sieve (36).

During Montag's conversation about the significance of literature, Faber uses a metaphor by saying,

This book has pores. It has features. This book can go under the microscope. You'd find life under the glass, streaming past in infinite profusion (Bradbury, 39).

Faber metaphorically compares the minute details and important information hidden throughout novels to the pores on a human face.

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A metaphor is a comparison of two unlike objects NOT using the words like or as.  Although they are frequent, they are not on every page.  Here are some.

1. Pg 3: " With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upone the world, the blood pounded in his head, ....."

This compares the brass nozzle to a great python snake.

2. pg. 17: "But instead he stood there, very cold, his face a mask of ice....."

This compares his face to a mask of ice.

3. pg 27: "Beatty snorted gently, "Hell! It's a fine bit of craftmanship, a good rifle that can fetch its own target and guarantees the bull's-eye every time."

This compares the Hound to a good rifle.

Here are some extras:

4. pg 58: A book is a loaded gun in the house next door."

This compares a book to a loaded gun.

5. pg 90: I'm the Queen Bee, safe in the hive.  You will be the drone, the traveling ear."

This is an interesting sentence because a number of metaphors are located in this one sentence. .  Faber is the Queen Bee, the hive is his home, Montag is the drone, the drone is an ear.


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