fahrenheit 451 psychology sociology Essay

Pages: 4 (1341 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] Bradbury's book Fahrenheit 451 sends many messages about knowledge, freedom of thought and expression, education, happiness, and equality. Regarding knowledge, books symbolize knowledge but it is also shown that knowledge comes from the individual human being and his or her ability to think critically and creatively. Even without access to books, for example, Montag becomes knowledgeable. Likewise, education is a process of thinking critically about issues, and has much less to do with the what someone is actually learning. A person can be "educated" about the wrong things, which is what happens to conservative, anti-education people who believe that the earth is 6000 years old or that climate change is a hoax. In Fahrenheit 451, the public has been brainwashed, which is a process of education that is unfortunately mistaken for real learning, which happens through self-discovery and critical inquiry.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to locate happiness in Fahrenheit 451, but the author does leave readers with a glimmer of hope. The author is clear to point out that knowledge and intelligence alone cannot bring happiness, as is the case with Faber's example. None of the stupid people are happy, even though they can pretend to be while they are numbing themselves with the parlor walls. The closest thing that Montag comes to happiness is when he meets Clarisse in the beginning, as she stirs in him the possibility for a new paradigm, and at the very end, when Granger talks about the fact that the bomb might actually be a good thing because it might help the society start from scratch and avoid the problems of the previous one. Therefore, the closest thing to happiness in the book is hope. Equality is a more nebulous issue in Fahrenheit 451. The society is more egalitarian in some ways than ours is today, but Bradbury shows that just like happiness, equality does not naturally ensue from knowledge. Human beings have to work hard to create societies that are truly just and equal. Equality does not mean treating all dumb people the same, as in the case with this dystopian reality, but it does mean helping the numb and dumb masses like Mildred to see the light.

The section headings in Bradbury's book seem odd but on closer inspection, they are simply related to fire. The "Hearth and Salamander" is straightforward, as the hearth is a physical container of fire in the home, whereas the salamander is a symbol of fire because of its flickering colors. Clarisse can be the salamander, and Mildred and his house the hearth. The second section of the book is "Sieve and Sand," more opaque in terms of what it refers to, except for the fact that sand easily passes through a sieve. It is possible that Bradbury refers to the way knowledge can pass through a dumb person's brain like a sieve. Finally, the last section is solely about fire: "Burning Bright."

A conflict that I am interested in is how to deal with the dumbing down of America. I do not understand how it has gotten to the point where almost half the country sided with someone who accepted the support of the KKK, and almost half the country do not think that science and education matters. This is a deep conflict, that is unfortunately being framed as a war on the middle class, which it is most certainly not. This is exactly the problem, as people will believe anything they hear or see on the news media without thinking critically about where their information came from. We might as well burn books again, and preach tolerance of all ideas. I believe that the conflict is that people like Montag, who want to be kind and tolerant as well as intelligent, end up having too much sympathy for dumb people like his wife and everyone he works with. Americans have been tolerant of religious fanatics and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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