In what ways are the society of 451 Fahrenheit and modern societies of today similar in terms of technology, censorship, and propaganda?

1 Answer | Add Yours

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

  • Technology

There is no question that the perspicacious Ray Bradbury foresaw many of the ills of present-day American society. In his short story "The Pedestrian," for example, Bradbury has a lone man walking through a neighborhood in which the houses are unlit except for the televisions before which the inhabitants are mesmerized. Similarly, in Fahrenheit 451 Montag's wife Mildred projects her happiness, urges, and friendships onto the walls that project inane visual and auditory scenarios. All her thoughts are governed by what technology in her home has dictated, much as many take their political opinions from whatever conventional wisdom is imparted on social media. She cannot even sleep without her "buds" in her ears.

Besides replacing reading and independent thought, technology also prohibits the right to dissent or do anything in private that does not conform to the rules. The mechanical hound sniffs out dissenters who speak of anything controversial, or read.

  • Censorship

In Fahrenheit 451 books are routinely burned as the most efficient and complete form of destruction of the thoughts of great religious, social, and political leaders, historians, revolutionaries, anarchists, agnostics, atheists, existentialists, satirists, reformers, romantics, naturalists, transcendentalists, nihilists, poets, critics, and more. By burning books, the society of Bradbury's narrative controls the knowledge of its citizens. In essence, this society keeps its citizens in ignorance because reading the works by authors the likes of Voltaire, Thomas Paine, or Emile Zola or poems by Stephen Crane, T.S. Eliot or Dylan Thomas might awaken "rebellious" thoughts.

  • Propaganda

The society in which Montag resides has freely acquiesced to the rules. Even Mildred reports her own husband because she has bought into the propaganda of the danger of books. Beatty has accepted the propaganda about books, but for different reasons. For one thing, he realizes that order can be maintained more easily if people do not ingest controversial and conflicting ideas.

.... We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against. So! A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. 

Beatty promotes the propagandist idea that intellectualism is a weapon that can be used against others, when this idea is really promoted because of fear and envy. (Mildred reports her own husband Montag out of fear.) In contemporary America sameness is a concept promoted with propaganda such as "everyone can learn equally" and other feel-good social ideas.

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,967 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question