Ensorship and mass culture in Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 Essay

Of the celebrated dystopian literatures of the twentieth century Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 offers possibly one of the more interesting suggestions to the historic causality of censoring. While elusive intimations of ignorance is power for a oppressive authorities is mentioned by some characters ala 1984. most of the text alternatively suggests that in the dystopian universe of Fahrenheit 451 that censoring is non so much intentional as it is a side-effect of a postmodern preference toward. as Frederic Jameson notes. a cultural waning of affect and a universe of marks without forms. a medley of histories without significance ( Jameson. 2001 ) .

The books being censored so. in Fahrenheit 451’s dystopian America. so have less of an impact on the society than the play and amusement created from their find and devastation and that more than the censoring therein this blissful ignorance is the dystopian component in Bradbury’s novel.

Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopia for the rational. Within the narrative is presented an ( assumed ) United States where people live moderately happy lives. From everything we see in the novel they are good fed. live in fantastic fireproof houses. have occupations. households and plentifulness of amusement. Yet. as chief character Guy Montag dwells on. people kill themselves still and a changeless menace of war seems to loom in the background of the novel.

Yet there is ne’er any treatment of why. and no affair how many “picture walls” or wirelesss are turned on throughout the class of the book no more information is of all time genuinely recovered as to how or why the state finds them in this muss. Yet no 1 outside Montag and a smattering of foreigners seem to believe there is any job with this.

Peoples in Montag’s universe seem encouraged to populate a life of leisure. Montag’s foreman. Beatty. negotiations infinitely about athleticss and his coworkers play manus after manus of fire hook.

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Montag’s married woman. Mildred. is addicted to the “picture wall” . or telecasting. and is invariably imploring for a 4th and concluding wall to be installed. Violence as amusement. even. seems to in some manner be supported by and large by society as Mildred seems to take pleasance at one point from hitting little animate beings with her car.

Yet there besides seems to be an impulse and encouragement of sameness. as reverberations in many other plants of dystopian bad fiction. Montag notes of his co-workers. “These work forces were all mirror images of himself! Were all firemen picked so for their expressions every bit good as their propensities? ” ( Bradbury. 1991 ) His friend early in the narrative. Clarisse. falls victim to this sameness as she seems pushed out of public school because she doesn’t “mix. ” ( 22 ) Mildred. although a apparently perfect member of society besides seems to endure from the strain of sameness as Montag notices a organic structure strained by dieting.

When we think of censoring. particularly in the context of dystopian narrations. we frequently think of an subjugation of cognition by the authorities in order to command the labor. Yet in several subdivisions of the fresh Bradbury makes allusions that the authorities didn’t censor the book ab initio. but instead the populace abandoned the book and the authorities got rid of it as an after idea. In his history lesson on the fireman. Beatty explains:

The bigger your market. Montag. the less you handle contention. retrieve that! [ … ] Writers. full of evil ideas. luck up your typewriters. They did. Magazines became a nice blend of vanilla tapioca. [ … ] But the populace. cognizing what it wanted. whirling merrily. allow the amusing books survive. And the three dimensional sex magazines of class. [ … ] It didn’t come from the Government down. There was no pronouncement. no declaration. no censoring to get down with. no! Technology. mass development. and minority force per unit area carried the fast one. thank God! ( 47 )

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Beatty explains that a globalized consumer market and an increasing demand to be entertained with bigger and better merchandises is what killed the book and the authorities made firemen “custodians of our peace of mind” ( 48 ) to forestall sadness. Jean Baudrillard discusses homogeneousness in consumer society as “where everything is taken over and superseded in the easiness and translucidity of an abstract ‘happiness. ’ defined entirely by the declaration of tensenesss. ” ( Baudrillard 2004 )

This seems to suit good with the building of media and hyperconsumerism in Montag’s universe. as all things in his universe seem to be for the intent of felicity and amusement. Baudrillard’s description of the consumer experience could easy come from any figure of aspects of Montag’s life:

Work. leisure. nature and civilization: all these things which were one time dispersed. which one time generated anxiousness and complexness in existent life [ … ] these activities which were more or less irreducible one to another. are now at last assorted and blended. climatized and homogenized in the same sweeping view of ageless shopping. ( 30 )

The unhappiness and dystopia of Montag’s world is non that the books are banned. but instead. as Montag’s ally Faber notes. “the public itself stopped reading of its ain agreement. ” Montag’s society believes books are tiring. hard and conveying merely confusion and sadness and are so blindly obsessed with the ingestion of felicity that even if books were available they would likely be ignored.

If we think of a dystopia as a universe where people have no involvement in educating themselves or larning about things that may potentially do them unhappy. a universe where image and a medley of history are all that are of import. so we may really good hold to worry that our ain society is going a sort of dystopia. Of class books are still readily available. but surveies show that Americans are taking less clip to read and that reading comprehension accomplishments are greatly enduring. ( Brown. 2008 ) As Beatty describes we excessively are

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hungering faster. more brassy and more dramatic amusement. Internet phenomena like Twitter. where users are limited to messages of no more than 140 characters. and Youtube. where the mean picture is 5 proceedingss. are outstanding illustrations of our of all time shortening attending spans. As a society we are looking of all time conspicuous consumers. as Frederic Jameson says. on an ageless pursuit for bigger. faster. better. ( Jameson 2001 )

Unfortunately in a post-Bush America there’s a batch to be said that we have entered a dystopia. We are a state possessed by fright and concern. where kids who. like Clarisse. “don’t mix” are being pushed out as safety hazards. Our activities and involvements are being more carefully monitored by governments than they have of all time been.

In the UK. frights of future terrorist activities have caused governments to make advertizements encouraging neighbours and household to describe leery activity. in really similar ways to that of Fahrenheit 451. ( Doctorow. 2009 ) If we think pessimistically on such events it is really easy to believe we are in a lost and desperate state of affairs like in the book and. as Faber says. “the whole skeleton needs reshaping. ”

Bradbury evidently wrote Fahrenheit 451 out of a turning concern that the universe he lived in was being overtaken by a universe of people who chose pleasance over the load cognition can convey. He wrote it trusting that things could be turned around. I suppose he might be horrified at many of the new ways people are blowing their clip. the new distractions that keep us from educational amusement. However. the chase of cognition continues on. albeit in sometimes altered ways.

The book may be traveling out of manner but cognition continues on in signifiers on the cyberspace. is discussed on the wireless and ( sometimes ) telecasting. While there are dystopian elements to our universe there is still hope for intellectualism and literacy. Bradbury’s book stands as a warning to mind to forestall ignorance and cultural devastation.
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London. England: Sage Publications.

Bradbury. Ray ( 1991 ) . Fahrenheit 451. New York. New York: Ballantine Books.

Brown. Joseph ( 2008 ) . ”As the fundamental law says” : Distinguishing paperss in Ray

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Doctorow. Cory ( Mrch 24. 2009 ) . Boing Boing. Retrieved April 15. 2009. from London bulls

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Jameson. Frederic ( 2001 ) . Postmodernism. or the cultural logic of late capitalist economy.

Durham. North Carolina: Duke University Press.