Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Themes

Censorship

This is perhaps the most prevalent theme in the novel. The censorship arising in Fahrenheit 451does not stem entirely from a government trying to control its people, however. The idea is that literature was stripped down so much that the quality of information was lost, and people were provided with replacements that are thrilling to the senses rather than useful for honing a sense of empathy and introspection. Once the populace has achieved a sort of self-censorship, the government seized the opportunity as one more way to control its people.

Media is Dangerous

Most people in the novel are addicted to media—media that stimulates the senses rather than the intellect—as well as mindless, violent pastimes. This constant occupation of the senses, coupled with literally speeding through life, serves to distract people so much from their interior lives that they become suicidal. An illusion of constant happiness is thus created, but people constantly die from overdoses of sleeping pills and jumping off buildings. This theme is perhaps more relevant than it was when Bradbury wrote the novel.

Behind Every Book is a Person

Bradbury consistently points out that books are more than paper and ink; they are ideas, ideas that represent people. He highlights this idea with the exiled characters, who actually refer to themselves as books and authors (e.g. Montag is the book of Ecclesiastes). Although Bradbury assigns tremendous value to literature in the novel, he is careful to state that they are not the savior of mankind.

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