What is an example of dualism in Fahrenheit 451?

The major theme of Fahrenheit 451 is the idea that people can be controlled through a number of ways, but the most effective one is to control what they read, see, or learn. The society in Fahrenheit 451 is a perfect example of this concept. They go to great lengths to make sure that there is never any literature that would upset their perfect world. In the end, Montag realizes that he was getting old and needed something new in his life. He finally found it with Clarisse and her ideas. Now Montag wants to fight for his freedom rather than live a life of "quiet desperation". He sees things from Clarisse's point of view and understands how important reading truly is.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Dualism generally refers to something that has two distinct parts, often in opposition to each other, sometimes with related aspects. The classic storytelling convention of tragedy/comedy is dualistic in nature, contrasting humor with pathos. In Fahrenheit 451 , the most obvious example of dualism is between Montag's wife Mildred,...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Dualism generally refers to something that has two distinct parts, often in opposition to each other, sometimes with related aspects. The classic storytelling convention of tragedy/comedy is dualistic in nature, contrasting humor with pathos. In Fahrenheit 451, the most obvious example of dualism is between Montag's wife Mildred, who is a pure and complete product of the modern society, and his neighbor Clarissa, who wants to move beyond the restrictions of society and live for herself.

Mildred is entirely obsessed with her status and her television programming, being almost hypnotized by the enormous screens that cover her parlor walls; she dismisses Montag's attempts to probe past accepted norms.

Clarissa shows an interest in Montag's growing unease, and speaks of individualism and her own ambitions, which stretch beyond society's expectations. Her simple nature and obvious questions give Montag the ability to look past societal rules.

Both women have major effects on Montag, but in different ways. Mildred shows Montag the benefits of remaining in society, where he will be unhappy but safe, while Clarissa shows Montag the benefits of fighting oppression, which endangers his life but allows him to expand his mind.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team