Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury S Idea of Censoship and Its EffectsResearch Paper

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¶ … Harmful Concept

The Product of Conformity

Censorship as a Tool to Control the Population

Censorship's effect on society

Ray Bradbury's dystopian novel "Fahrenheit 451" provides readers with a view into a future where books are considered illegal and there is a special unit of 'firemen' tasked with the mission of burning every book they come across. One of the most intriguing ideas regarding the book is the fact that it does not actually provide a reason why books would be banned in the future. Readers are thus left with the option to speculate by considering a combination of factors revealed throughout the text. Most are likely to agree that a series of forms of entertainment are behind this motive and that the masses would no longer be able to spend their time concentrating on reading. Through its theme, narrative, and symbolism, Fahrenheit 451 presents the message that censorship damns the entire populous to singular views and limits and endangers freedom of speech, as a whole.

1. Narrative

II. Background

Bradbury shows the future as a sophisticated concept, a place where people no longer have the resources to focus on things of the past. Most characters in the book seem particularly appreciative of the culture and the tools they possess and they appear to perceive everything relating to the past as being harmful. Books are one of the principal elements they concentrate on because of their ability to hold ideas from the past. As a consequence, the authorities alongside the general public are actively involved in either criticizing book reading or in wanting to penalize anyone having them. "In the not-so-distant-future world of Montag, old and abandoned railroad tracks are the last vestiges of, and fleeting connections back to, a frontier past. Now overgrown with plant life and strewn with rubble, these tracks remind of us of a time that was -- or, perhaps, that never really was, but which we wanted it to be." (Roberts 28) The author seems determined to emphasize the connection between people wanting to embrace change and the attitudes they need to take on during the process. Individuals virtually encourage each-other to do everything in their power in order to progress and seem particularly keen on removing things of the past from their lives.

III. out-of-the-box Thinking as a Harmful Concept

One of the most intriguing ideas in the book relates to freedom of speech rather than to people's struggle to preserve ideas from the past. People in Bradbury's city seem obsessed with the idea of respecting the law in spite of the fact that they have a limited understanding of why these laws are promoted in the first place. "Those who read, putting themselves at the risk of change or of independent thought, are regarded as criminals and sentenced to mental hospitals -- or killed." (Jones 279) It appears that society upholds the idea that the world people are living in is a perfect place and ideas from the past might have a negative effect on this respective environment.

Interestingly enough, it seems that censorship was not installed by the authorities -- instead, the masses played an active role in the process. As Captain Beatty, the central character's superior, reveals, "It didn't come from the Government down. There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship, to start with, no! Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick, thank God. Today, thanks to them, you can stay happy all the time." (Bradbury) The masses have been instructed with regard to the attitudes they need to employ in order to make it possible for society to be 'perfect'. People are basically forbidden from expressing any interest in ideas that are not accepted by the authorities.

2. Symbolism

IV. Blood used as a channel to emphasize feelings

Throughout the novel the author relates to the idea of blood with the purpose of influencing readers to acknowledge the significance of the central character's experiences. Blood can be considered to be associated with a person's self -- the concept of an individual concentrating on some of the most basic thoughts.

In spite of the fact that people are influenced to accept any type of ideas that the government imposes, conditions are critical across the city. Society seems consumed with the fact that it is limited and people thus rebel against each-other and against the government. Suicide rates have gone up significantly as some people are willing to kill themselves instead of acting in agreement with the laws they need to obey. Even in this situation the majority is unhesitant about upholding the law. Bradbury demonstrates that in many cases people are more likely to respect the law instead of trying to doubt its purpose. To a certain degree this might be due to the fact that they fear penalties associated with breaking the law. The moment when the machine replaces Mildred's blood makes it possible for readers to understand the way that it affects her consequent to being poisoned.

V. Censorship as a Tool to Control the Population

Bradbury essentially shows censorship as something that makes people identify with certain ideas. These respective individuals come to believe that it is essential for them to put across a particular type of thinking in order to be considered 'normal'. Freedom of speech start to be seen as something out of the ordinary and most people agree to the fact that individuals who express their own ideas should be harshly punished as a consequence.

From the very first page of the book readers are presented with the world in the novel as burning books are described as birds: "a book lit, almost obediently, like a white pigeon, in his hands, wings fluttering." (Bradbury) Again, readers are encouraged to see books as a symbol of freedom and self-expression. The fact that the central character, Montag, is the one observing this phenomenon contributes to painting a picture of him as a person who evolves throughout the novel. Such experiences are responsible for him wanting to look at matters from a different point-of-view -- it is basically as if he matures and acknowledges the significance of expressing one's ideas.

3. Theme

VI. Censorship's effect on society

To a certain degree Montag is similar to readers when considering the fact that the author expected them to experience an awakening process as the book's storyline progresses. Most individuals today might be inclined to ignore the significance of preserving ideas from the past as a result of being bombarded with concepts that are common in the contemporary society. Many are even probable to abandon the idea of reading books altogether as a result of considering they take up too much time. This graduate journey to a state where out-of-the-box thinking is perceived as unnatural is actually taking place in a great deal of communities today. A person who might have been concerned about new ideas in the past is likely to feel that it would be pointless for him or her to continue to focus on these.

Society as it is presented in Bradbury's book is very much a paradox -- people have been encouraged to filter information in order to focus only on things that matter and that process made it impossible for them to understand the significance to filter information themselves in the first place. The concept of censorship represents a type of behavior through which an individual or a community focus on removing negative aspects from the environment they are living in. Even with this, many people are likely to lose touch with reality in this progression, as the reason why they chose to censor certain ideas becomes lost to them. Gaining access to means of entertainment in the book is initially shown as a positive concept, as people are provided with the ability to stimulate their thinking through a wider range of channels. At this point books (on their own) actually seem limiting. However, as society progressed people forgot the importance of balance and considered that taking in new ideas would mean that they have to abandon ideas promoted in the past. It is basically as if the bridge between new and old ideas was abandoned in hope that anything new would be enough for society to thrive from all points-of-view.

VII. Conclusion

It is likely that Bradbury intended the book to raise public awareness concerning the way that people take things for granted. Especially when considering the contemporary society, the fact that people have access to almost unlimited amounts of information also means that they try to limit the means through which they accumulate this respective information. As the book shows, many characters feel that it would make no sense for them to even think about reading books, as this would go against values they have become accustomed with. It appears that these people have come to put across such thinking because they feel this is normal. Normality has thus reached a level where people simply accept it without even considering… [END OF PREVIEW]

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