Fahrenheit 451 Characters
The main characters in Fahrenheit 451 are Guy Montag, Mildred Montag, Clarisse McClellan, and Captain Beatty.
- Guy Montag is a fireman who is tasked with burning books. He becomes disillusioned with his society and with the idea that books should be destroyed.
- Mildred Montag is Guy Montag’s wife. She tries to distract herself from her oppressive existence and eventually reports Montag to the authorities.
- Clarisse McClellan is Montag’s young and highly intelligent neighbor. Clarisse helps Montag recognize his unhappiness.
- Captain Beatty is the Chief Burner and Montag’s boss. He forces Montag to burn down his own house and goads Montag into killing him.
Guy Montag—simply referred to as "Montag" throughout the bulk of the narrative—is the protagonist of Fahrenheit 451. The events of the novel are told from his perspective, and the plot is primarily driven by the evolution of his personal choices as he navigates the rigid, dystopian world around him.
At the beginning of the story, Montag is a third-generation fireman. He spends his workday burning books—all of which are illegal contraband—for the fire department. He is obedient to the fire captain and content in his work, and he never stops to wonder why things are the way they are. When he meets a new neighbor, seventeen-year-old Clarisse McLellan, on his way home from the fire station one night, she challenges his traditional thinking, and Montag's view of the world begins to shift. Clarisse is different than anybody he's met before—she is thoughtful and inquisitive, and she encourages Montag to ask questions about the world around him. Her perspective leaves an impression on him, and he slowly begins to question the established rules of society in ways he never has before.
As their friendship develops, Montag's sense of the world around him changes. The system that used to seem efficient and tidy begins, instead, to feel authoritarian and oppressive. As he becomes more and more disillusioned with the social order of his environment, his outward behavior begins to change, too: he begins hoarding books in secret, acting strangely around others, and actively seeking out the friendship and guidance of those who live in contravention to established norms. These choices ultimately upturn life as he knows it. By the book's close, Montag's perspective on life has shifted dramatically, and he is living outside of society entirely.
Mildred Montag, aged thirty, is Guy Montag's wife. In contrast to Guy's burgeoning discontentment, Mildred is a model citizen according to the norms of their society. Her life revolves around watching the "parlor walls"—large wall-sized screens that show immersive video programming all day. Mildred considers the people onscreen to be her "family," and her time with them is valuable to her. She has little interest in anything else and would prefer to stay busy and occupied with the parlor walls than to think about anything unpleasant or challenging. As Guy experiences his personal awakening, this change creates conflict and distance between himself and Mildred. He begins to express frustration, curiosity, and even anger, and she prefers to avoid all three. When he begins hoarding books at home, Mildred ultimately turns Montag in to the authorities.
In an early scene, prior to the advent of the tension between Guy and Mildred, Mildred attempts to take her own life by swallowing an excess of sleeping pills. This would suggest that life as a "model citizen" in the world of the novel is not as ideal as society would have the characters believe and that Mildred herself is masking a great deal of dissatisfaction behind her idealized front.
Clarisse McLellan is a seventeen-year-old student who, at the beginning of the novel, has just moved in next door to the Montags. On his way home from his shift at the fire station one night, Montag meets Clarisse, and they strike up a friendship.
Clarisse is, by the...
(The entire section is 1,019 words.)