The Symbolic Dystopia presented in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451

Essay by greenfoxxHigh School, 11th gradeA+, April 2004

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Ray Bradbury was born in August of 1920, and by the age of ten discovered the wealth of information available at his local library. However, no one imagined the creation he would write some thirty years later. First titled The Fireman, Fahrenheit 451 soon gained interest because of the anti-utopian setting in which the novel takes place. Bradbury uses the horrific idea of book burning in Fahrenheit 451 in response to the persecutions resulting from a fear of communism during the Red Scare, which gripped the nation mid-century. Similar to other anti-utopian novels, such as Orwell's 1984, Fahrenheit 451 addresses the issue of rapidly increasing technology's impact on the destiny of man along with a threat of government suppression. Bradbury's inspiration in the creation of Fahrenheit 451 can be credited to the influence of the fear of dystopia running rampant through his society. This was due to the new technologies being invented and the looming dread of communism during the Cold War.

Fahrenheit 451 revolves around the image of a fireman, not as a symbol of preservation, but as a being of destruction of man's knowledge. Mogen explains the role of the fireman as the "American Dream gone awry: for in this appalling future the community firehouse has become the impersonal agent of fire itself, destroying rather than preserving the community institutions" (Mogen 106). The opening of Fahrenheit 451 describes Guy Montag's excitement as he completes another job, "It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed" (Bradbury 1). Montag is a fireman whose job it is to burn books, and accordingly, discourage the citizenry from thinking about anything except four-wall television. "Montag's intense pleasure in burning somehow involves a terrible, sado-masochistic temptation to torch the globe,