The text “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury is set in a dystopian America constantly threatened by war. And the population tricked into thinking there is nothing wrong and that they are happy. The government achieves this by using the parlor, seashells, the mechanical hound, firemen, drones and the constant threat of war. In this essay we will explore these themes and point out where they appear in the text.
what is a dystopian future? Well its a world that is undesirable or frightening. They are characterised themes such as totalitarian environmental disaster. technology taking over, ethics or other things that cause the decline of society.
the point that ray bradbury is trying to make is that if we are not careful with our leaps in bounds of progress in technology we could end up like world in this book. A world ruled by the higher ups that control the information that we consume, an example of this in the real life is North Korea a hermit country where no information comes in or out so the population has no choice but to listen and believe there dictator.
Dystopian futures usually have some sort of technology controlling the population and Fahrenheit 451 is no different. The government pumps its population full of fake or numbed information through the virtual reality with the parlors. Which are essentially rooms but every wall is a top to bottom screen. So everywhere you look you are shown nonsense. When Mildred is pulled away from reality in her parlor, she shows a form of Schizophrenia (a disorder that affects a person’s ability to think and distinguish what is real and what is not) thinking that her family in the parlor is her family in real life. When ever she is not listening to her sea shells or in the parlor she is mumbling about getting back to her “family” and talking to montage like her parlor family is montage family too” “Will you turn the parlour off?” he asked. “That’s my family“”. This level of control through media is shown in the modern world through subliminal messaging and advertising.
The seashells are a kind of ear buds that are constantly on the news radio station. “She just lay there not saying anything with the sea shells chirping in her ear”. At this point in the novel Montag’s wife Mildred was lying on her bed with the ‘seashells’ in her ears and in a coma due to the overdose she had just taken. This moment is significant because the incessant emptiness of the media projected through the ‘seashells’ contributed to the despair that lead to Mildred wishing herself dead. The seashells are also an effective metaphor, because like a shell at the sea, while people think what they’re hearing is something of substance, what they really hear is an empty echo. we see the same technology in present day technology is ear pods and they effectively have the same purpose they play pop music riddled with subliminal messaging and podcasts giving us one side of the story these are the things ray bradbury is trying to warn us about in the book.
In the early stages of the book Montag’s wife Mildred attempts to commit suicide by overdose on sleeping pills. Montag calls for an ambulance but instead two handy men with machines turn up at the door with a special machine that extracts the liquids from the stomach. They do this with no urgency like there is no risk but Mildred’s life is in danger. “Hell! the operator’s cigarette moved on his lip. We get these cases nine or ten a night. Got so many, starting a few years ago we had the special machines built.” something must have changed in the way people were treated nine years ago to make suicide such a regularity. I think because of the lack of information people became sad or they felt like they were missing something but they couldn’t figure it out so they became depressed but they didn’t know that emotion, this could drive someone insane, this is why the suicide rates went up and why mildred committed suicide .
The government use the mechanical hound to instill fear in that there is nowhere you can hide. It’s only a matter of time before it finds your trail then tracks and incapacitates you. This is shown in the police chase after Montag murders Beety at his house with the flamethrower. “The metal hound jumps, its needle shot out, it was suspended for a moment in their gaze as if to give the vast audience time to appreciate the raw look of the victim’s face”. I think the mechanical hound is a warning to us that if we let technology get too far we could have the perfect killing machine, we can see our military replacing brains with AI and letting computers pull the trigger. there are mechanical hounds in our world already with the LS3 Robotic pack mule they are just for carrying equipment for now but how easy it would be to put an automatic targeter and turret on it is scary
Firemen in this text are basically the opposite of what they are in the real world. Rather than putting out fires they start them, as the need for real firemen became obsolete centuries ago when all the houses became fire-proof. In the present time in the text they are used to set on fire any houses that contain books. They do this because the government wants to rewrite history and try to get the population to forget the past, as the population are more easily tricked into believing what the government tell them if they have no other knowledge of what they are being told. “Colored people don’t like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don’t feel good about Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Burn it. Someone’s written a book on tobacco and cancer of the lungs? The cigarette people are weeping? Burn the book.” I think that the government does this to limit the conflict within the country’s population. But this also limits creativity and destroys history leading me to believe this is an absurd way to run a country.
The government use the hound and drone as a part in their live TV, police chases turning them into TV shows made to entertain the audience rather than educate and warn. This is shown near the end of the book where the police lose the trace of montag so rather than end the chase there, they use the drone to find another poor soul that is wandering the streets and frame as the culprit. “They’re faking, you threw them off at the river. They can’t admit it. They know they can hold their audience only so long. The show’s got to have a snap ending, quick!” This shows that the government can find anyone they want at a moment’s notice and that in this town there is no privacy you can’t run, you cant hide, you are what the government want you to be and if your not be prepared to face the consequences
In the text we are reminded of the threat of nuclear war as several times we are told that Montag can constantly hear the bomber jets booming overhead. The government use this as an excuse to rule the nation as they are with an iron fist. But at the end of the text something snaps and the bombs fall leveling the city and everything else that Montag knew and loved to be obliterated (except for Faber he had left the city on the early train). “The bombardment was to all intents and purposes finished once the jets had sighted their target, alerted their bombardier at five thousand miles an hour; as quick as the whisper of a scythe the war was finished.” in the book we are never told why they are at war and who with leaving us to speculate I think that this is a society driven by wealth and we know from our previous wars that it is very profitable so I believe that the war in the text is built up and run by big companies trying to prophet on it. this is another warning from ray bradbury is that if we keep chasing superficial things we will eventually armageddon ourselves. Today’s threat to life as we know, it is called M.A.D (mutually assured destruction) this is when one country launches a nuke at one country setting off chain reaction causing other countries to launch their nukes eventually irradiating the entire earth into a desolate wasteland.
With the evidence I have put forward, we can be sure that the population of America are fake happy, always having a feeling like something is missing always under pressure to perform well and exist in the legal limit constantly monitored by drones, and being told what to do by their parlors. The population of america is truly controlled by technology.