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Literary Devices in Fahrenheit 451


Fahrenheit 451 employs numerous literary devices, including symbolism, metaphors, and irony. The firemen's use of fire to destroy books symbolizes censorship and the suppression of ideas. Metaphors, such as comparing books to birds, illustrate the freedom and life that literature can bring. Irony is evident in the society's belief that burning books protects them from unhappiness, while it actually leads to a lack of knowledge and freedom.

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What are three examples of Bradbury's use of irony in Fahrenheit 451?

There are three types of irony. Dramatic, verbal, and situational. Dramatic irony occurs when the reader or audience knows something that the characters do not. Verbal irony occurs when what someone says is the opposite of what they mean. Situational irony is when the opposite of what one expects to occur happens.

In Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury sprinkles instances of irony throughout the novel to contribute to the theme of the importance of books.

At the beginning of the book, Montag meets a young neighbor girl named Clarisse as he is walking home from work. Clarisse asks him a question:

They walked still further and the girl said, "Is it true that long ago firemen put fires out instead of going to start them?" "No. Houses. have always been fireproof, take my word for it." "Strange. I heard once that a long time ago houses used to burn by accident and they needed firemen to stop the flames." He laughed.

This is an example of dramatic irony because the reader knows that firemen put out fires. Montag finds Clarisse's question amusing. He believes that fireman have always burned books because this is what society, and his job, have programmed him to think. Montag believes that houses have always been fireproof. It is also ironic that young Clarisse seems to know this basic information, but the adult Montag does not. Clarisse most likely knows this information because she comes from a family who reads. The reader assumes this because of the questions she asks and the knowledge she has that cannot be learned in the mundane classes, mostly sports or television related, that she tells Montag she takes in school. The fact that she has this knowledge, and a grown man does not, shows how important it is to read books.

Montag visits a professor that he once met in the park after calling him on the phone. When Montag gets to his house, the professor is overly cautious. When he sees Montag and insists that he hasn't done anything wrong. Montag convinces the man that he is alone.

The front door opened slowly. Faber peered out, looking very old in the light and very fragile and very much afraid. The old man looked as if he had not been out of the house in years. He and the white plaster walls inside were much the same. There was white in the flesh of his mouth and his cheeks and his hair was white and his eyes had faded, with white in the vague blueness there. Then his eyes touched on the book under Montag's arm and he did not look so old any more and not quite as fragile. Slowly his fear went. "I'm sorry. One has to be careful." He looked at the book under Montag's arm and could not stop. "So it's true."

The irony in this instance is dramatic. The reader already knows that Montag does not wish to investigate the professor. Interestingly enough, Montag could have caught the professor when he first saw him in the park, which makes the reader question why he didn't. Perhaps he subconsciously always had doubts about burning the books. This incident at Faber's house furthers the theme of the importance of books because Faber is paranoid that he will be investigated and have his books burned. When Faber sees the book that Montag has his fear slowly goes away and he continues to stare at the book as if in shock because it is a rare bible, there aren't many left. The fact that Montag even has a book in his hand demonstrates the importance of books; here it is a sign to Faber that Montag can be trusted.

Perhaps the most ironic part of the story is Beatty himself. The irony surrounding Beatty is largely situational. The reader suspects that Beatty knows a lot about books and probably has read them early on, but yet he chooses to be against books and wants to burn them all. At the end of the novel, when he goes to arrest Montag and burn his books, he says,

It was pretty silly, quoting poetry around free and easy like that. It was the act of a silly damn snob. Give a man a few lines of verse and he thinks he's the Lord of all Creation. You think you can walk on water with your books. Well, the world can get by just fine without them. Look where they got you, in slime up to your lip. If I stir the slime with my little finger, you'll drown!

Beatty demeans Montag by making it seem like anyone with a little bit of education or learning automatically thinks they are better than everyone else. He tells Montag how silly it is to repeat verses of a poem, when several lines later he, himself, is making literary references, showing his own hypocrisy. Beatty calls Montag a snob and tells him to quote Shakespeare, but then Beatty quotes Shakespeare; therefore, is he not also what he claims Montag is, a snob?

What'll it be this time? Why don't you belch Shakespeare at me, you fumbling snob? "There is no terror, Cassius, in your threats, for I am arm'd so strong in honesty that they pass by me as an idle wind, which I respect not!" How's that?

These quotations from Beatty enhance the theme of the importance of books. Earlier Beatty told Montag that "We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal." He tells Montag that "A book is a loaded gun in the house next door" and "Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man?" His words are ironic because he is a well-read man and he targets other people who attempt to become well-read by finding them and burning their books.

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Where does Bradbury use allusion, paradox, and anthropomorphism in Fahrenheit 451?

Allusion:  Near the end of the book, when Montag is at the fire station for the last time right before he gets sent to his own house, Beatty is quoting line after line of literature to him.  Allusion exists there because Beatty is alluding to different pieces of literature, using them as references.  He even references which authors he is quoting--Alexander Pope, William Shakespeare, the Bible, Sir Philip Sidney.  Beatty does this a lot, throws in literary allusions to great pieces of literature.  It indicates that he is ironically well-read for a man that is supposed to hate books and incinerate them.

Anthromorphism:  Bradbury uses very blatant personification all throughout the book.  For example, the machine that replenishes Mildred's blood is a snake, and the books that are getting burned are moths, birds, flowers, insects.  The kerosene hose is a venemous viper, a snake "spitting its venemous kerosene upon the world."  Bradbury uses this technique to give life and symbolism to these important objects, endowing them with beauty or violence as needed.

Paradox:  Consider how "Montag" dies at the end of the novel.  He doesn't die really, but, he watches a man that the government has found that they are pretending is him, and the Hound takes him out.  It seems impossible that Montag would watch his own death, but he does.

I hope that those thoughts helped; good luck!

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What are some examples of allusions in Fahrenheit 451?

Please note: page numbers vary widely among editions so context is provided to aid your search.

The eNotes Guide to Literary Terms includes a definition of allusion along with several examples. One important feature to keep in mind is that allusion operates through the implicit associations it calls up. This distinguishes allusion from a direct, explicit reference. Allusions may include brief quotations, but are usually words or phrases that bring to mind an an event, person, place, thing, or idea—but without explicit mention of the source.

Around the middle of Section I, “The Hearth and the Salamander,” the firemen prepare to burn an elderly woman’s home, but she refuses to leave. In speaking of her books as containing totally contradictory ideas, Captain Beatty suggests they are multiple languages that are not mutually intelligible: “‘You’ve been locked up in here with a regular damned Tower of Babel.’” The tower is mentioned in the Bible, Genesis 11:1–9.

An allusion that is frequently used in everyday speech may become an idiom. An example spoken by Beatty occurs a few pages before the end of Section I, when he is railing against the excessive simplification of culture for popular consumption. He uses a water metaphor to compare the firemen’s efforts to stemming a “tide,” saying: “‘We have our fingers in the dike.’” This is an allusion to the story “Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates,” in which a Dutch boy saves his community by holding his finger in a hole in the dike so it will not break and flood them. It has entered general English-language usage as a metaphor for any valiant, but probably futile effort.

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What are some examples of allusions in Fahrenheit 451?

An allusion is a casual reference to something that should be well-known by the reader.  It is generally meant to support an explanation, to give an example. An allusion can be about the Bible, history, mythology, or literature.  Bradbury uses all of these in his book. 

Some historical allusions are:

1. When the woman comes out of her house and says,

"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." (pg 36)

Later, on page 40, Beatty explains to Montag that those words  were spoken by a man named Latimer to Nicholas Ridley as they were being burnt alive at Oxford for heresy on October 16, 1555. The woman said it just before she ignited and killed herself in the flames.

2. Another historical allusion is 

"....when Mildred ran from the parlor like a native fleeing an eruption of Vesuvius" (pg 93)

Vesuvius was a famous volcano that erupted in AD79 destroying the city of Pompeii and all of its residents. 

Another kind of allusion in the book is the literary allusion.  Many of these are done when Beatty is speaking. 

1. One such allusion is

"Colored people don't like Little Black Sambo.  Burn it.  White people don't feel good about Uncle Tom's Cabin. Burn it." (pg 59)

These are allusions to two famous books.  Little Black Sambo was criticized for racism toward black children. Uncle Tom's Cabin is an antislavery book written by Harriet Beecher Stowe that would upset white people.

2. Another literary allusion is,

"Montag stopped eating.  ..., he saw their Cheshire cat smiles burning through the walls of the house...." (pg 93)

This is an allusion to the Cheshire cat character in Alice in Wonderland.

3. On pages 105-106 in my copy of the book, Beatty recites quotes from Sir Philip Sydney and Alexander Pope, both famous poets.  He uses their quotes to make a point to Montag that a person can find support for both sides of an argument in literature.

Another kind of allusion or casual reference in the book is concerning the Bible.

1.  When Montag is on the train on his way to visit Faber, he tries to memorize portions of the Bible but is interrupted by the advertisement blaring in the train. Montag thinks,

"Shut up, thought Montag.  Consider the lilies of the field." (pg 78)

This is an allusion to the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus told the people not to worry about their worldly goods.

2. Another Biblical allusion is at the end of the book when Montag recites Revelation 22:2

"And on either side of the river was there a tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruites and yielded her fruit every month; And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." (pg 165)

He decides he will share this with the men when they reach the city.

Another kind of allusion Bradbury uses is mythological allusions.  These reference famous stories of the Greek and Roman myths.

1. When Faber is talking with Montag he says,

"Do you know the legend of Hercules and Aneaeus, the giant wrestler, whose strength was incredible so long as he stood firmly on the earth?  But when he was held, rootless, in midair by Hercules, he perished easily." (pg 83)

2. There is the famous reference to the phoenix, the bird that burned himself every few hundred years but

"....every time he burnt himself up he sprang out of the ashes, he got himself born all over again." (pg 163)

The phoenix was a symbol on his fireman's shirt.

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What are some examples of allusions in Fahrenheit 451?

An allusion is when an author makes a reference to an outside source that the reader might know about. Allusions can be historical, mythical, political, etc. This helps the reader make a mental connection from the outside world to a message that the author wants to send. In Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, many different types of allusions can be found. One allusion that Captain Beatty uses is about the Pierian spring, which is known as a fountain of knowledge. Beatty actually quotes Alexander Pope by saying the following:

"A little learning is a dangerous thing. Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring; There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again" (106).

The above passage shows Beatty making an allusion to Pope, who makes an allusion to the Pierian spring. If readers follow the line of thinking in the quote, then they will understand the connection between the spring of knowledge and what is going on with Montag in the story.

Another allusion is when Captain Beatty reacts to Montag returning to the firehouse after taking a day or two off to explore books. Beatty says, "Well... the crisis is past and all is well, the sheep returns to the fold. We're all sheep who have strayed at times" (105). When Beatty mentions sheep, he is alluding to the Bible and the parable that mentions returning a sheep to its fold. Readers who know this would make the connection that Beatty sees Montag as a sheep returning to his fold—the firemen at the firehouse.

One final example of an allusion is the one Granger mentions about a phoenix. The city Montag escapes from is blown up by an atomic bomb. Granger hopes humanity will recover from this catastrophe like a phoenix who is reborn from the ashes of fire. Granger explains as follows:

"There was a silly damn bird called a phoenix back before Christ, every few hundred years he built a pyre and burnt himself up. . . But every time he burnt himself up he sprang out of the ashes, he got himself born all over again. And it looks like we're doing the same thing" (163).

After an atomic bomb levels the city, that city is probably smoldering with coals and ashes. This helps to provide a mental image for the reader about what Montag and the other men see in the aftermath. The allusion to the phoenix also gives readers hope that maybe humanity will be reborn and be able to rebuild a better society than what Montag lived in.

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What are some metaphor and allusion examples in Fahrenheit 451?

Though the dystopia shown in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (1953) wants to destroy all written words, paradoxically, the firemen assigned to this job often use metaphors and allusions in their speech. This itself is a sly metaphor about the power of books; even as the firemen burn texts, words and ideas from them are burnt into their brains. Thus, metaphors and allusions operate at several levels in Bradbury’s novel. An example of the complex way Bradbury uses metaphor is the following lines, in which the protagonist, Montag, recalls his captain, Beatty, describing the pleasures of book burning:

“Sit down, Montag. Watch. Delicately, like the petals of a flower. Light the first page, light the second page. Each becomes a black butterfly. Beautiful, eh?” ... There sat Beatty, perspiring gently, the floor littered with swarms of black moths that had died in a single storm.

For Beatty, the intact pages are as delicate as flowers, yet the killed pages are even more beautiful, fluttering like butterflies. Beatty's metaphor mocks the notion that freedom and beauty are inherent in words. He suggests that unlike what people in previous generations thought, words are truly free when destroyed and turned into crisp, flying flakes. Yet, for Montag, the burnt words represent not dancing black butterflies but dead, charred moths, a metaphor for the death of free thinking.

Further, the names of each of the three sections of Fahrenheit 451 are metaphors too: In section 1, “The Hearth and the Salamander,” the salamander, along with the phoenix, forms the insignia of the firemen. The salamander's significance as the insignia is its mythical fireproof nature. The salamander both makes an inspiring motto for the firemen—they stay safe among the flames—and a metaphor for their resistance to the “fire” books ignite within people. Part 2, “The Sieve and the Sand,” is a metaphor for the mind. The mind is like a sieve, while knowledge is like sand. As Montag discovers a love for books, he hopes by reading them fast enough, he will be able to retain some sand in the sieve of his brain. Part 3, “Burning Bright,” is a metaphor for Montag’s enlightened state of mind and a renewed sense of hope. It is also an allusion to these lines from William Blake’s poem “The Tyger”:

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

Allusions to books are natural in the world of Fahrenheit 451, because the firemen pile and torch books for a living. Even as they incinerate books, bits and pieces from them stick in the memory of the firemen. Beatty makes a reference to the stickiness of words and knowledge when he confesses: “I’m full of bits and pieces. ... Most fire captains have to be. Sometimes I surprise myself.” The context of these words is an allusion made by an old woman whose house they have just burnt down. Preferring to be destroyed with her books rather than watch them burn, the old woman lights herself on fire, too. But earlier, after the firemen have entered her house, she quotes:

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.

The lines are said to have been spoken by sixteenth-century cleric Hugh Latimer to his fellow priest Nicholas Ridley, right before the two were burnt alive at the stake for their Protestant beliefs. The old woman is comparing herself to the clerics who died by fire for their principles. Later, when Montag wonders why the old lady took the name “Master Ridley,” Beatty refers to Latimer.

In the middle of the novel’s second section, Montag recites Matthew Arnold’s poem “Dover Beach” in its entirety before his wife Mildred and her friends. The reckless moment marks Montag’s suppressed voice finally breaking through, just like the poem bursts out of him. Significantly, the poem rues the loss of faith in religion, mirroring the sense of loss Montag feels in a world bereft of literature.

Later that evening, Beatty can sense the completeness of the change in Montag. In a strange sequence, the captain directs a tirade at Montag consisting mostly of quotes from several books. By alluding to differing ideas from different books, Beatty is trying to confuse Montag and show him that since books speak so many varying truths, the knowledge in them cannot be truthful, since the truth can only be one. I have included the referenced texts in parentheses.

Beatty chuckled. “And you said, quoting, ‘Truth will come to light, murder will not be hid long!’ And I cried in good humor, ‘Oh God, he speaks only of his horse!’ And ‘The Devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.’ [The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare] And you yelled, ‘This age thinks better of a gilded fool, than of a threadbare saint in wisdom's school!’ [Old Fortunatus, Thomas Dekker] And I whispered gently, ‘The dignity of truth is lost with much protesting.’ [Cateline: His Conspiracy, Ben Jonson]

By quoting the Shakespearean lines beginning “The Devil can cite” in particular, Beatty is alluding to the fact that words are slippery and can be used by anyone to suit their nefarious purposes. Of course, Beatty’s easy familiarity with such old literary texts is the text’s meta-metaphor about the infectiousness of writing, which even Beatty cannot escape.

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What are some metaphor and allusion examples in Fahrenheit 451?

Bradbury is a lyrical writer, celebrated as much for his prose style as his plots, and this novel does not disappoint. He freely uses metaphor, which is comparison that does not use the words "like" or "as," in the opening paragraphs the novel. Here, he describes Montag's pleasure and excitement in burning books. The fire hose Montag spreads his flames with is called a "python." This metaphor likens the hose to a living, dangerous, potentially lethal snake that strikes and kills. Bradbury calls Montag a "minstrel man," comparing his face, blackened by the flames, to the whites who used to blacken their faces to perform in racist theatrical skits. Later, when Montag meets Clarisse, he uses metaphor when he thinks of her eyes as "two miraculous bits of violet amber" and her face as "fragile milk crystal."

Faber alludes to the plays of "Pirandello or Shaw or Shakespeare," which are no longer put on because the state thinks they are too subversive. Beatty will taunt Montag over his interest in literature, saying:

Why don't you belch Shakespeare at me, you fumbling snob?

Not only does Faber allude to Shakespeare, he quotes from his play Julius Caesar:

`There is no terror, Cassius, in your threats, for I am arm'd so strong in honesty that they pass by me as an idle wind, which I respect not!'

This again is a form of sneering, for the lines, spoken by Brutus, are ironic: Brutus, who calls himself "honest," had been anything but honest when he turned on and assassinated his friend Julius Caesar. Beatty is calling Montag a traitor, a turncoat—and foreshadowing that like Brutus, Montag will soon turn on and kill his own leader, Beatty himself.

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What are some metaphor and allusion examples in Fahrenheit 451?

You can find examples of allusions and metaphors in every chapter of this novel - even on every page. For example, in the first chapter, Montag walks into his home after talking to Clarisse and realizes he is not happy. His wife, Mildred, is home watching her screens and she looks up at him:

Two moonstones looked up at him in the light of his small hand-held fire; two pale moonstones buried in a creek of clear water over which the life of the world ran, not touching them.

The "moonstones" are Mildren's eyes.

Also, there are tons of allusions in this novel. Why? Because the firemen are book burners. Every time they are talking about books, they are alluding to authors. Again, in the first chapter:

"It's fine work. Monday bum Millay, Wednesday Whitman, Friday Faulkner, burn 'em to ashes, then bum the ashes. That's our official slogan."

This allusion is to poets Edna St. Vincent Millay, Walt Whitman and author William Faulkner, all authors whose books were burned by Montag and his fellow firemen.

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What is an allusion in Fahrenheit 451?

An allusion is an indirect reference in a text to a work of literature or art, or an indirect reference to a historical, political or cultural event. Works of literature often allude to earlier literary works or to history to set a tone or trigger a set of associations on the part of the reader. Allusions presuppose a shared cultural context, which is why many allusions, such as to Classical Greek literature, are lost on us today. 

The book burnings that Montag engages in as a fireman allude to the Nazi book burnings of the 1930s. These book burnings may seem remote to us, but they would have been within living memory of many early readers of Bradbury's novel. In the book burnings, the Nazis made huge bonfires of literature they deemed offensive and unfit for loyal members of the Reich. These included books by Jewish authors, by communists, and by other writers who challenged National Socialist ideology. These overt and dramatic acts of censorship made a deep negative impression on Americans wedded to First Amendment freedoms of expression. They became a symbol of totalitarian abuse of individual rights and a symbol of repression. Therefore, the mere mention of book burning would have raised in readers' minds the strong idea that the political regime of the novel was repressive and malevolent. This would have encouraged readers to side with Montag in his resistance to the regime. 

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What is an allusion in Fahrenheit 451?

There are many allusions in the novel "Fahrenheit 451". The allusion in the title is a reference to the temperature at which paper burns. Paper burns when it reaches a temperature of 451 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a reference to the job of the firemen in the novel. Ironically, they burn books full of paper instead of putting out fires.

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What are some examples of allusions in Fahrenheit 451?

Allusions are references to other works of literature or to historical documents, people, or events within a novel, play, or poem. Fahrenheit 451 is filled with allusions.

The novel, for instance, alludes to three playwrights: Shakespeare, Shaw, and Pirandello, when Faber, plotting subversion with Montag, says:

Oh, there are many actors alone who haven't acted Pirandello or Shaw or Shakespeare for years because their plays are too aware of the world. We could use their anger.

Bradbury alludes to Shakespeare again when Beatty speaks contemptuously to Montag, quoting from the play Julius Caesar:

There is no terror, Cassius, in your threats, for I am arm'd so strong in honesty that they pass by me as an idle wind, which I respect not.

In that quote, Brutus is responding to Cassius's statement: "Do not presume upon my love." Beatty communicates here that he doesn't pay any attention to or respect anything Montag has to say.

At the end of the novel, Granger, while talking to Montag, refers to Thoreau's Walden, a book which challenged conformity, and to the English philosopher Bertrand Russell.

Granger also alludes to the Magna Carta and the US Constitution, both important documents safeguarding the rights and freedoms of ordinary people. Granger says:

So long as the vast population doesn't wander about quoting the Magna Charta and the Constitution, it's all right.

In other words, the state doesn't want people asserting their freedom.

The many allusions to literature are Bradbury's way of showing there is an important world beyond the clowns on the televisions screens, and a way to illustrate that books are worth reading.

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What are some examples of allusions in Fahrenheit 451?

There are historical allusions, mythological allusions, Biblical allusions, and literary allusions in Fahrenheit 451. These references serve to illuminate Bradbury's themes of censorship and ignorance versus knowledge.

(Historical Allusion/Theme of Censorship) When the firemen come to the house of a woman with an attic full of books, they find that she does not attempt to run from them. Instead, before she lights a match herself and burns with her books, she says,

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 (p.33).

These are Hugh Latimer's words to his friend Thomas Ridley. Both were bishops who rejected the Roman Catholic doctrine regarding the pope as heir to the authority of St. Peter and the transubstantiation of the host in the ceremony of the Mass. When Mary Queen of Scots became Queen of England, she wanted to restore Catholicism. Bishops Latimer and Ridley were burned as heretics. The quotation contains the words of Bishop Latimer to Bishop Ridley before they were burned at the stake. 

(Historical Allusion/Theme of knowlege versus ignorance) Beatty explains to Montag why there are no books in their society:

Technology, mass exploitation and minority pressure carried the trick. . . . "Intellectual" became the swear word it deserved to be. . . . 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 (p.55).

(Historical Allusions) When Captain Beatty comes to Montag's house, Beatty speaks of the profession of firemen, one that "got started around about a thing called the Civil War" (p.51). Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln are mentioned, along with Mahatma Gandhi, Gautama Buddha, and Confucius (p.145).

(Literary Allusions) There are allusions to various writers throughout the narrative. Montag tells Mildred that the firemen burned "copies of Dante and Swift" (p.47). Beatty alludes to authors such as Thomas Jefferson, Henry David Thoreau, Machiavelli, and Thomas Paine (p.145) and to literary works such as Hamlet (p.52), Uncle Tom's Cabin (p.57), and Shakespeare's Julius Caesar (p.113). Montag reads aloud "Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold (p. 96). Beatty also alludes to playwright and poet Ben Johnson (p.102). He also quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson when he says "the. . . tyranny of the majority."

(Biblical Allusions) When Faber talks to Montag after seeing his Bible, he observes how Christ has been mitigated. "He's a regular peppermint stick now. . . when he isn't making veiled references to certain commercial products that every worshiper absolutely needs" (p.78). Montag memorizes part of the Book of Ecclesiastes.

(Mythological Allusions) Captain Beatty alludes to Icarus whose father made wings so they could fly. Icarus failed to heed his father's warnings, and he flew too close to the sun, melting the wax that held the feathers together. Consequently, he crashed into the sea. Beatty tells Montag that he has flown too close to the sun because his curiosity about books is dangerous (p.113). Later in the narrative, Granger alludes to the phoenix, the bird that was reborn from ashes (p.156).

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What are some examples of allusions in Fahrenheit 451?

The mythical creature is the phoenix, which is the firemen’s logo.

A phoenix is a creature that supposedly burned and was reborn, or rose from the ashes.  Firemen have the logo on a disc on their chest and a salamander on their arms.  A salamander supposedly can live in ashes, according to myth.  The bird makes sense as the mascot and logo of the firemen because they burn the books and the items in the houses, but not the houses themselves.  The houses are fireproof, so they are like phoenixes rising from the flame. 

The phoenix comes into the conversation after the city is burned. 

"It's flat," he said, a long time later. "City looks like a heap of baking-powder. It's gone." And a long time after that. "I wonder how many knew it was coming? I wonder how many were surprised?"  (Part III) 

People were not really paying attention to the war.  It was not real.  Beatty says, “Let him forget there is such a thing as war” (Part I).   All that mattered was their entertainment.  They lived every day on a high, focusing on pleasure and making no deep connections.  They were alive, but not really living.  

Granger brings up the phoenix, a bird he says lived “back before Christ.” 

But every time he burnt himself up he sprang out of the ashes, he got himself born all over again. And it looks like we're doing the same thing, over and over, but we've got one damn thing the Phoenix never had. We know the damn silly thing we just did. (Part III) 

Granger says that mankind is foolish, because we keep making the same mistakes in our society. He says that “even when we had the books on hand, a long time ago, we didn't use what we got out of them.”  Montag’s society burns itself up, and it will re-emerge.  Will the new society be better than the former one?

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What are some examples of allusions in Fahrenheit 451?

One of the most prominent allusions in Fahrenheit 451 is present in the form of the Mechanical Hounds.

It's a fairly common literary device, especially in science fiction, to use machines and mechanization to represent oppression; consider a film like The Terminator. Considering their role in the society of Fahrenheit 451, it seems clear that the Hounds fall into this interpretation as well:

  • The Mechanical Hounds are not only mechanical, but unnaturally so; their eight legs, needle-nose and compound eyes make them abominations, "hounds" in name only, since they only superficially resemble a dog. This could represent man's corrupted interpretation of nature, our "inability to play God", as demonstrated in stories like Frankenstein: the Mechanical Hounds are like Victor's Monster, built in the image of a good thing, but having turned out horribly wrong.
  • The Hounds have also been perverted in terms of their purpose and their analogy to a real firehouse dog; whereas real dogs were meant to find trapped people by scent, the Hounds track people by scent and kill them, or otherwise impose a violent force of will. The Hounds represent a complete dystopian image, where the familiar has become its own ideological opposite.
  • The Hounds are employed as tools of the Government; for example, when a Hound fails to catch Montag, the government selects a random victim to demonstrate that the Hound never fails, and the government always gets its way.

Thus, the Hounds are allusions to totalitarian control, "perverted" science and technology, and the corruption of society.

Other allusions might include the television, an allusion to the individual choosing ignorance, and the railroad tracks, an allusion to "old times" and "safe" technology.

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How is revelation an allusion in Fahrenheit 451?

"Revelation" is to uncover, display, or bring into the open.  In the book, "Fahrenheit 451", Bradbury displays what might happen to a society that no longer reads and thinks.  Through the action of the characters, he shows how the people of this futuristic society are being manipulated by their government.  When Capt. Beatty tells Guy Montag, in the first section, how their society came to be, he explains that people wanted to be entertained more than they wanted to be enlightened.  He says that people didn't want to have to think and to analyze on their own - they wanted to have any pertinent information given to them in a quick, concise manner.  He tells Montag that the government took over more and more until finally, books were outlawed altogether because they made people think.  In the second section, revelation takes place as Montag realizes that something must be done to stop the madness of his current society and he struggles to find a way to stop it.  Revelation also takes place in the final section of the book when Montag joins the book people and he uncovers the hope of a better future as he watches his city and his society become incinerated by an atomic bomb.  Revelation isn't as much an allusion as it is an outright statement.

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What are some examples of allusions in Fahrenheit 451?

Bradbury uses a great many allusions in Fahrenheit 451.

Allusions allow the reader to learn about something they do not know about, by being reminded to something they do know about: taking previous knowledge, a comparison is made to bring that which is unfamiliar into focus. For example, if a kid is trying to describe to a friend how someone they know climbed a tree and was hanging from the top, he might say, "Mike was up at the very top, just like King Kong on the Empire State Building." If the friend has seen the movie or knows the story, the description is easier to imagine because he can recall images of King Kong fighting off the planes.

When Montag meets Clarisse, they connect in a way he does not understand. She sees the world the way it is rather than the way society expects her to see it. Montag notes at one point:

...what a shadow she threw on the wall!

One of Plato's works describes a dialogue between Plato's brother Glaucoma and Plato's mentor Socrates. The reference to the shadows refers to (for argument's sake) people who are chained to a wall in a cave and can never see anything but shadows thrown on that wall by a fire blazing behind them. They imagine they know what the shadows are, but...

According to Plato's Socrates, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to viewing reality.

Clarisse has a clear vision of the world: she sees colors, the dew on the grass, and things Montag is not sure he has ever noticed. What Montag sees of life in his society is little more than a collection of images without clarity (like shadows) because he sees what society wants him to see, but Clarisse is in touch with reality. However, at this point Montag can only see the shadows.

The following may well be a Biblical allusion. 

Shut up, thought Montag. Consider the lilies of the field.

The Bible verse alluded to is found in Matthew 6:28:

And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing...

With the personification of the flowers, the reader is encouraged not to worry. The flowers in the field do not, yet they are cared and provided for.

The firemen are seen as agents of evil as they not only burn books, but people's homes as well. Note the description below:

Had he ever seen a fireman that didn’t have black hair, black brows, a fiery face…?

This might be an allusion to the devil, a being also associated with destruction and suffering by fire.

At the end of the book, there is an allusion to the famous mythical bird, the phoenix. Allegedly, the bird in five hundred year cycles would build a pyre and set himself ablaze, only to rise up again out of the ashes. The bird would do this repeatedly. When Montag travels through the woods with Granger, Granger alludes to the bird. When questioned, Granger describes the story of the bird and draws a comparison to what society does by destroying itself over and again. His hope is that someday mankind will stop in its continuous, self-destructive cycle:

...it looks like we're doing the same thing, over and over...We know the damn silly thing we just did...[maybe] someday we'll stop making the goddamn funeral pyres and jumping in the middle of them.

Allusions are effective only if the audience is familiar with the reference. An allusion to Gilligan's Island is meaningless if the audience doesn't know what it is.

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What are some examples of allusions in Fahrenheit 451?

I see the author's use of allusions throughout the text as a sort of secret code to keep literature alive not only in the fictional society but ours as well.  Consider, as the previous post states, the sheer number of literary allusions.  Most readers of this book are not going to recognize every single one of the sources nor meanings of these allusions.  Those who wish to, are going to do some digging and researching.  It is almost as if the author wanted this.  Perhaps Bradbury himself was hoping his book would lead readers to discovering many more.

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What are some examples of allusions in Fahrenheit 451?

Your question picks up on what is an interesting aspect of this novel - the sheer number of allusions that there are to other texts. Obviously, quotes play a major part of this novel, a world where books are banned and therefore illicit material. What is interesting is who uses these quotes and why. It is important to analyse the characters of Beatty and Faber in particular as they use quotes to try to manipulate/bully Montag but also the quotes reveal their character, which is very interesting in the case of Beatty, as his obsessive quote-using reveals his own deep-seated ambivalence about books and the world he is in.

The first quote we are introduced to comes from Latimer and is said by the first victim of the book burning, who willingly burns herself alive "with contempt to them all":

"We shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out."

The quote is used to ironically emphasise the "heresy" that this woman is committing by hoarding books whilst at the same time stating her own protest against this society - the fact that she is willing to die with her books rather than live life without them, pardon the pun, speaks volumes.

"Dover Beach" is used in a fascinating way to expose the emptiness of this dystopian world and also reflect on the changes that have happened in this society:

"....for the world, which seems

To lie before us like a land of dreams,

So various, so beautiful, so new,

Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,

Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain..."

It is highly significant that Montag reads this poem to Mildred and her two friends, interrupting their watching of the "family" on the screens. This poem in this context therefore cuts right through the superficial nature of their lives and their dependence on simulated relationships, exposing their inner emptiness, which is why Mrs. Phelps begins to cry immediately after the end of this poem.

Hopefully these examples will help you as you re-read the novel and detect more allusions and consider why the author used them and what he is trying to signify through them.

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