What is an example of euphemism in Fahrenheit 451?

The old lady is quoting the dying words of Hugh Latimer, a 16th century English Protestant bishop, burned to death by the Catholic Queen Mary as a heretic: "Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out."

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A euphemism can be defined as a polite word or expression that's used to refer to something inherently unpleasant. For example, instead of saying that someone's died, we often say that they've passed away. Euphemisms are a way of protecting people from the harsh nature of reality. This is precisely...

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A euphemism can be defined as a polite word or expression that's used to refer to something inherently unpleasant. For example, instead of saying that someone's died, we often say that they've passed away. Euphemisms are a way of protecting people from the harsh nature of reality. This is precisely what the repressive government in the dystopian society of Fahrenheit 451 aims to do by burning books.

On one such book-burning expedition, the firemen—another euphemism—incinerate an old lady along with her books. Before she dies, she quotes the dying words of Hugh Latimer, a 16th century English Protestant bishop, burned to death by the Catholic Queen Mary as a heretic:

Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.

"Lighting a candle" is a euphemism, a much nicer way of describing someone being burned to death. Latimer was expressing his firm belief that the deaths of himself and his co-religionist, Bishop Nicholas Ridley, would act as a spark for change, lighting a permanent flame in the souls of their fellow Englishmen, who would embrace what they regarded as the true religion of Protestantism. The old lady uses this euphemism to refer, not to religion, but to the flame of knowledge, a flame that will never be extinguished despite the best efforts of this repressive, totalitarian government.

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The most obvious example of euphemism in Fahrenheit 451 is the use of the word "fireman" to refer to a person who actively sets fires, instead of a person who tries to put them out. In today's society, such a person would be called an "arsonist," not a fireman, but the government in the novel has revised both history and language to use the word in a different manner. A firetruck now is a truck filled with kerosene, with flamethrowers, and the fireman's traditional rescue dog is now a Mechanical Hound, with eight legs and a poison needle in its nose to kill people who try to escape or fight the system. By changing the meanings of these long-standing words, the implication of "I called the fireman" takes on a very different meaning.

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