Ray Bradbury Fahrenheit 451 Essay
Fahrenheit 451 is a science fiction work that depicts an America of the future in which no one reads, in which citizens are perfectly content not to read, and in which very superficial values have taken over – fast cars, wall-sized TV’s, and lifestyles that border on narcissism. Books, in fact, have been banned, and firemen exist to burn them wherever they are found. Bradbury speaks to the reasons for book banning, and they appear to be a combination of both complete lack of interest in them and the controversies that they cause among special interest groups when opposing ideas and opinions are put forth in literature. Even television programming has become completely neutral, as have the lyrics to music.
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury Plot is Simple but Powerful
Guy Montag is the protagonist whose life is changed by chance meeting with a teen whose lifestyle and values include love of and appreciation of nature, as well as reading. This meeting opens him up to the possibilities that exist for a more satisfying and fulfilling life. He develops an abiding interest in books and hooks up with a professor with whom he hatches a plot to print books and discredit firemen by planting them in their homes. Of course, his reading is discovered, he must kill the fire chief to escape, and he finds ultimate comfort with a band of intellectuals (the Book People) who vow to bring intelligence back to those who survive the current war.
Selecting a Topic for a Fahrenheit 451 Essay
There are multiple potential topics that relate to the themes of this novel – censorship and Knowledge vs. Ignorance. And relating those themes to current societal trends could make for some interesting comments on our current “state of affairs” in America.
Potential Fahrenheit 451 themes essay topics might include the following:
- Throughout history, totalitarian regimes have banned books, and many current governments continue to do so. Given the wide and uncontrolled reach of the Internet today, how effective can censorship really be?
- Are there examples of censorship in America today? Research some of the controversies that have occurred when public school district boards of education have attempted to ban certain books from their libraries.
- Are we as a society “dumbing” ourselves down? How close are we as a society in which the majority of people no longer read books?
Potential Fahrenheit 451 analysis essay topic options are also quite varied:
- Why does Beatty have such a hatred for books? Pay particular attention to his rant after he has found that Montag has continued to read after his instructions not to. Obviously he was once an avid reader – what changed him?
- Faber says this about books: “The value of books lies in the detailed awareness of life they provide.” Can awareness of life be found elsewhere? If so, where?
- Discuss Clarisse’s impact on Montag. Why do you think Bradbury “kills her off” so early in the novel?
- How are the specific quotes from Shakespeare and the Bible important to the messages Bradbury is giving us?
Fahrenheit 451 can be read on many levels. It is, of course, a science fiction novel and can be read simply as that. If one sees it deeper message, however, it should serve as a warning to all of us.