What role does technology play in Fahrenheit 451 and in the lives of Guy Montag and Mildred?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Fahrenheit 451 technology becomes a method of control as it dictates laughter and entertainment, thought and obedience. "...life is immediate...pleasure lies all about....Why learn anything?" becomes the unspoken motto. 

The walls of people's living rooms reverberate with laughter, words, music, and "pure cacophony," but nothing is really said; there are no thought-provoking moments such as that which comes from reading. All that really occurs is that the senses are overwhelmed. When Montag questions his wife Mildred about the shows she watches, she is unsure of what has actually been said, remembering only that she has laughed. Yet she tells Montag that the characters on the huge screen are her "family." In addition to those devices used to entertain and pacify the public, other technological devices are utilized by the government in order to control people. For example, the Mechanical Hound "sniffs out" perpetrators, such as those who clandestinely read books. Consequently, out of fear and in order to not be under suspicion and be harassed by the Hound and the police, people turn in others, even family members as, for instance, Mildred reports Montag out of fear for herself. Without doubt, then, the technology of Fahrenheit 451 is a threat, a threat to deeper thought, to true happiness and meaning in people's lives, and a threat to people's safety and quality of life.