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Mildred's relationships and role in Fahrenheit 451

Summary:

In Fahrenheit 451, Mildred represents the complacent, shallow society obsessed with mindless entertainment. Her relationships, including her marriage to Montag, are superficial and disconnected. She is more invested in her television "family" than in real human connections, highlighting the novel's critique of a society that prioritizes technology over meaningful relationships.

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In Fahrenheit 451, who are the two friends that visit Mildred?

In Part Two of Fahrenheit 451, Mildred invites her two friends, Mrs. Bowles and Mrs. Phelps, over to her house. It is around nine in the evening when the ladies arrive and the purpose of their visit is to watch the parlour walls with Mildred while drinking martinis.

The conversation between these women is as empty and superficial as the programmes they love to watch: they say that "everyone looks swell" but lack interest in any topics with more depth. When Montag switches off the walls, the women are dismayed at Montag and look at him with "unconcealed irritation."

Ultimately, Mildred is both embarrassed and upset by Montag's actions during this visit. He insists on reading a poem to the women called "Dover Beach." He wants to make the women wake up and think about their way of life but, instead, they leave the house and report Montag's behaviour to the authorities. 

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In Fahrenheit 451, who are the two friends that visit Mildred?

 Mildred invites her neighbors, Mrs. Phelps and Mrs. Bowles ,over to watch the walls.  They are totally enjoying themselves and having a great time when Montag pulls the plug on the TV and tries to engage them in some thoughtful conversation. 

We learn a lot about the society from this brief encounter with these two women.  We learn that war is expected but it will be short.  Mrs. Phelps says,

"Quick war.  Forty-eight hours, they said and everyone home." (pg 94)

He asks about their children.  Mrs. Bowls says,

"The world must reproduce you know, the race must go one.....I plunk the children in school nine days out of ten.  I put up with them when they come home three days a month, it's not that bad.  You heave them into the parlor and turn the switch.  It's like washing clothes..... They'd just as soon kick me as kiss me. Thank God I can kick back."

We learn about their attitude toward politics when they discuss two candidates. Montag eventually reads a poem to them. Mrs. Phelps starts crying, and both women run home stating that they will never come to the Montag home again.  These two women both turned him in to Captain Beatty as a person with books.

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Who is Mildred's family in Fahrenheit 451?

Mildred's family is the characters in the television shows she watches on her parlour walls. They give her joy and distract her from what is happening in the world.

Montag is annoyed by his wife's feelings for the characters on the television. It was Montag himself who originally called them relatives. The narrator says:

Literally not just one, wall but, so far, three! And expensive, too! And the uncles, the aunts, the cousins, the nieces, the nephews, that lived in those walls, the gibbering pack of tree-apes that said nothing, nothing, nothing and said it loud, loud, loud. He had taken to calling them relatives from the very first.

Mildred shows her concern for her virtual family over that of her real husband when Montag is ill. He asks her to quiet the parlour walls to accommodate his illness, but she shows she has no interest in doing so:

"Will you turn the parlour off?" he asked.

"That's my family."

"Will you turn it off for a sick man?"

"I'll turn it down."

She went out of the room and did nothing to the parlour and came back. "Is that better?"

"Thanks."

"That's my favourite programme," she said.

Mildred's desire to watch the goings-on of television characters outweighs her desire to help her sick husband feel comfortable. Montag is aware that she hasn't bothered to lower the volume and accepts it, which shows that he has accepted the lack of intimacy in their marriage. She replaces reality with a virtual world populated with people she cares for more than those in the real world. 

Later, when Montag has books in their house and shuts off the walls, Mildred is outraged. She explains that her family tells her things and gives her world color. When she realizes that Captain Beatty could burn the house down if he finds out about the books, one of her concerns is that her family—the people on the screens—will be burned along with the house and she will no longer be able to see them.

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Who is Mildred's family in Fahrenheit 451?

In Fahrenheit 451, Montag's wife Mildred considers the characters on the three TV walls that surround her her family. Montag thinks, "Well, wasn't there a wall between him and Mildred...And the uncles, the aunts, the cousins, the nieces, the nephews, that lived in those walls, the gibbering pack of tree apes that said nothing...He had taken to calling them relatives from the very first" (page 44 in the Del Ray Edition, 1991). In other words, the characters on the wall present a literal and metaphorical wall between Montag and Mildred. 

The characters on the wall speak to Mildred, and she is always engrossed in their drama so that she pays very little attention to Montag or to the world around her. Montag thinks of his wife as "a little girl in a forest without trees" (page 44), which conveys that Mildred is very lost and disconnected from Montag. She lives her life watching TV, taking sleeping pills, or listening to music through inserts that look like seashells in her ears. Her intention, encouraged by the government and society around her, is to drown out reality so that she does not pay attention to anything real, only to her fictional relatives on the television screens. 

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Who is Mildred's family in Fahrenheit 451?

Mildred Montag considers the characters on television to be her family.  She watches tv on her floor to ceiling three tv screens and the shows allows her to interact with the actors.

All she does is sit around and watch television all day.

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Who is Mildred's family in Fahrenheit 451?

Mildred's family members are the characters on the TV set.  Their TV covers three walls and she immerses herself in their lives every day. Montag was trying to figure out what had happened to Mildred and himself.  How had they grown apart?  He suddenly realizes that there were three walls that had come between them and their communication.  It was called the TV and the characters had become her family.  He wasn't interested in them at all.

"And the uncles, the aunts, the cousins, the nieces, the nephews, that lived in those walls, the gibbering pack of tree apes that said nothing, nothing, nothing and said it loud, loud, loud." (pg 44)

Mildred watches these programs hypnotically, and the characters have become real people to her.  They have developed the technology to the point that the watcher can communicate with the announcers and interact with the characters.  They even send the watcher a script to participate in the story.  She watched them and interacted with them all day, so they became her family.

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Who is Mildred's family in Fahrenheit 451?

Throughout the novel, Mildred considers the characters of the interactive television shows she watches on her parlour walls to be her family. Mildred is obsessed with watching her parlour wall televisions, which take up three entire walls of her home. The interactive shows allow Mildred to engage with the characters, who act as her surrogate family. The fact that Mildred refers to the characters of the interactive television shows as her 'family' reveals the shallowness of society and lack of authentic, genuine family relationships that exist in the dystopian civilization. Despite Mildred's lack of meaningful conversations and scripted interactions, she continues to view the television characters as her family and tells Montag,

Now...my`family' is people. They tell me things; I laugh, they laugh! And the colours!" (Bradbury, 34)

Mildred's perception of her family also illustrates her loneliness and superficial nature. She lacks authentic, meaningful relationships and confides in the characters of the interactive television shows she watches. 

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Who is Mildred's family in Fahrenheit 451?

Mildred Montag spends most of the hours of her day watching television, and considers the characters in her programs to be her "family".  She's an interesting character, because she appears to be a shallow fool who rarely, if ever, has an independent thought; in other words, she fits perfectly into the society in which she lives.  There is friction between Mildred and her husband when he begins to question the status quo, and worst of all, recite poetry.  However, when she overdoses on pills, the reader is left to wonder, did she just forget how many she took, being the dimwit that she is, or does she understand more than she lets on about the nature of the society she lives in and deliberately tried to end her life out of quiet desperation? 

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What is Mildred's relationship with her TV "relatives" in Fahrenheit 451?

In Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, Mildred seems to have a closer relationship with her television "relatives" than with any human being in her life, including Montag. It is Montag himself who calls them her relatives, and asks after them as though they were real people.

Mildred, however, does not appear to be deluded in a straightforward sense. She does not believe the people on television really are her relatives. Rather, she spends so much time in the atmosphere of their constant noise and drama that they have come to seem more real to her than anyone else.

This sense that the relatives are the most real people in her life does not come from any particular realism or skill in the way they are depicted on screen. Instead, Mildred has a diminished sense of reality in general. She is so detached from the world that these ersatz figures have become the nearest thing to a real family that she is capable of understanding.

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What is Mildred's role in Fahrenheit 451?

Mildred's role is to showcase the vapid, pointless existence of the typical citizen in Fahrenheit 451. Her obsession with television and need to be just like everyone else -- to "fit in" -- causes her to become little more than an outlet for the opinions of other people. She is so disconnected from her own life that she refers to the cast of her favorite television show as "relatives" and "family."

He looked with dismay at the floor. "We burned an old woman with her books."

"It's a good thing the rug's washable." She fetched a mop and worked on it. "I went to Helen's last night."

"Couldn't you get the shows in your own parlour?"

"Sure, but it's nice visiting."
(Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Google Books)

Her mind is so filled with disconnected feelings and emotions that she has no response at all to his news that he killed a woman while working. It hasn't happened on her screens, and so it may as well have not happened at all. Even the television programs are not composed of story events, but of meaningless dialogue and sound effects. As he progresses in his development, Montag realizes how pointless his relationship with Mildred actually is.

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Who is Mildred and how are we introduced to her in Fahrenheit 451?

Mildred is Montag's wife and the exact opposite of Clarisse. When we first meet her, she has taken an overdose of drugs.  She is lying on the bed with earphones on and

"...an electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk and music and talk coming in, coming in on the shore of her unsleeping mind." (pg 12)

Clarisse has just told Montag that he is unhappy, and although he denies it, he realizes that she is correct.  As he looks at Mildred, he thinks,

"There had been no night in the last two years that Mildred had not swum that sea, had not gladly gone down in it for the third time." (pg 12)

Montag calls the paramedics and they put new blood into her.  They tell Montag that this problem is so prevalent, they have invented a machine to take care of it.  Doctors are not needed.  Mildred does not remember it the next morning and continues to take her pills and drown herself in the TV, music, and her drugs.  Montag and Mildred have not communicated for a long time.  When Montag asks her where and when they met, she couldn't even tell him. (pg 43)  He thinks,

"...suddenly she was so strange he couldn't believe he knew her at all.....And he remembered thinking then that if she died, he was certain he wouldn't cry.  For it would be the dying of an unknown." (pg 43-44)

Mildred is a puppet of the government.  While Clarisse respects thinking, Mildred is constantly watching the three walls of television, not entertaining a thought in her head.  When Montag challenges her thinking with his idea of books and their importance, Mildred rebels and turns him in to the government.  Clarisse stimulates his thinking processes; Mildred stagnates his thinking processes. 

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