Fahrenheit 451 Questions and Answers
by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 book cover
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What is the significance of the capsules that Mildred overdoses on in Fahrenheit 451? What are some examples?

In Fahrenheit 451, the significance of the capsules that Mildred overdoes on is that it shows how fundamentally unhappy people are in this dystopia. The government wants everyone to be happy, which it aims to achieve by providing them with hours and hours of brainless entertainment on TV. But it's all just a sham. Life in this book-less world is utterly soul-destroying, which is why people like Mildred take pills to keep themselves comfortably numb.

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On the face of it, there's no real reason for Mildred Montag to take an overdose of tablets. The dystopian society depicted in Fahrenheit 451 is geared toward people like her: people without depth, the capacity for independent thought, or intellectual curiosity.

Each and every day Mildred does just what the government wants her to do: zone out in front of the wall-to-wall garbage they pump out on TV in an effort to keep the masses comfortably entertained and controlled. She doesn't have to think about anything; it's all laid on.

But this isn't enough to keep Mildred happy. Otherwise, she wouldn't have taken an overdose of pills. She's in complete denial about what happened, but one doesn't take an overdose if one is feeling on top of the world. It's safe to assume, then, that Mildred is far from happy in her life.

At the same time, it could be argued that Mildred didn't really intend to kill herself at all: that she only took an overdose accidentally to make herself feel numb, as she cannot tell the difference between feeling comfortably numb and being happy.

In any case, she's not the only one. The EMTs who attend Mildred after her overdose soon have to dash off to yet another case after they've finished with her. Clearly there are a lot of people in this society who don't really know what true happiness is.

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