What is the significance of the alliusion to Plato in Fahrenheit 451? Referring to what Faber said on pg. 76, "How many copies of Shakespeare and Plato?" What about this allusion relates to...

What is the significance of the alliusion to Plato in Fahrenheit 451?

Referring to what Faber said on pg. 76, "How many copies of Shakespeare and Plato?"

What about this allusion relates to events/characters/themes in the novel? Why did Ray Bradbury choose this particular allusion?

 

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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There are several allusions to both Plato and Shakespeare in Fahrenheit 451 that correspond to the themes of humanity, literature, and government, which Bradbury critiques and satirizes throughout the novel. Both Plato and Shakespeare are two prominent historical figures that developed and shaped western civilization's literature, politics, and philosophy. Plato has been referred to as the founder of Western political philosophy and his most classic work, The Republic, is a dialogue on how to attain the ideal society by establishing a harmonious relationship between government and the individual. William Shakespeare is western civilization's most notorious playwright, whose works have shaped society and the literary world. In his novel, Bradbury depicts life in a dystopian society, where literature is censored and the authoritarian government oppresses its population. Plato's political philosophy stands in sharp contrast to the ruling government in Bradbury's dystopian society while Shakespeare's influential works are banned. Both Plato and Shakespeare's works are illegal and can be used to undermine the superficial, oppressive authority. Plato and Shakespeare are the antitheses of the authority figures in Bradbury's dystopian society and his allusion to both prominent figures is juxtaposed to emphasize the oppressive, tyrannical regime portrayed in the novel.

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Plato is famous for his Allegory of the Cave. In the Allegory of the Cave, prisoners are chained to a wall. They can not look directly at reality. Instead, they can only gaze at the blank wall of the cave that is across from them. Shadows of reality from outside the cave flicker across this wall. The people in the cave mistake these shadows for reality itself.

The people of Montag's dystopian society are like the prisoners in Plato's cave. Because they are not allowed books—i.e., access to reality—all they can do is stare at the figures on their view screens. They mistake these shallow figures for reality itself.

The prime character who is akin to one of Plato's prisoners is Mildred. She simply is afraid to liberate herself from the cave of her life, even though it is so empty she at one point attempts suicide.

At the end of the book, in contrast, Montag frees himself from the cave of his society and becomes what Plato would call a philosopher, looking at reality squarely. As if to reinforce this, Bradbury has Montag meet a fellow traveller on the outside who has memorized Plato's works.

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litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The allusion to Plato is important both because he is a thinker the reader will recognize and because his writings focus on a just life and proper government.  This contradicts the government in Fahrenheit 451.

Shakespeare was a renowned playwright and Plato was a renowned philosopher.  The significance of referring to Plato is that Plato had his own theories on government.

In his written dialogues, Plato developed accounts of knowledge, reality, humanity, society, goodness, God, and beauty.  (Plato enotes study guide)

In Republic specifically, Plato discusses the idea of what kind of government human beings should have, and how to effectively lead one’s own life.

Following the path of justice makes society better, and the gods reward a just man. (Republic enotes study guide)

Yet Fahrenheit 451 provides an example of a dictatorial government where there is no religion or philosophy, and people do not get to think for themselves.  Plato would not have approved. 

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