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Historical Reference Essay

“A favorite theory of mine to wit, that no occurrence is sole and solitary, but is merely a repetition of a thing which has happened before, and perhaps often”(Twain). This quote from a famous writer, Mark Twain, talks about how he believes that history can and does repeat itself. Mark is saying that everything takes place for a reason and has occurred sometime before in history. This idea of history repeating itself is present throughout the novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. The book is about a dystopian society where firemen actually light fires to burn precious books. In this society, the majority of the people believe that books are worthless and that every book should be burnt to ashes. The people of this society do not think for themselves and in many cases hardly think at all. Throughout Fahrenheit 451 many events occur that have also occurred sometime in our society, which parallels the theme of history repeating itself between the book and our society.

While book burning is usually associated with Nazi Germany, its roots actually extend far back into the ancient times. For example in 212 BC, the Chinese emperor Shih Huang Ti burned all the books in his kingdom so that history might begin with him (Freedom to Read). In 460 AD Omar the caliph ordered for over 200,000 volumes in the library of Alexandria to be burnt in a vast bonfire (Mullins). Then in 1933 in Nazi Germany, enormous bonfires spread across Berlin burning thousands of books (Schwartz). “Do you ever read any of the books you burn?” He laughed. That’s against the law! Oh. Of course” (Bradbury 8). This quote from Fahrenheit 451 shows that in this society books are never in any circumstances read. These illustrations indicate how book burning is not a onetime thing and that it first started with government restriction.

Likewise in Fahrenheit 451 before the books are burned to ashes, the leaders in the government restrict or censor certain material, which is also shown throughout many instances in history. Nowadays many popular books are deemed unhealthy for children to read that adults in the past read various times (Freedom to Read). Books like Huckleberry Fin and Harry Potter are banned in schools libraries (Mullins). In Fahrenheit 451 the government bands books to try and make everyone of every race pleased. “We read the books and then burn them afraid they would be found” (Bradbury 152). In medieval France the King never allowed for books to be read, unless he said that they could (Mullins). Also in 1720 the Church of England banned Robinson Crusoe and discouraged its members from reading it (Mullins). These examples show that throughout many times in history, restriction on books existed and may have lead to other actions such as war.

Besides book banning and burning, Fahrenheit 451 also shows that war can and does repeat itself over and over again. In the BC time period Plato the famous philosopher said, “Only the dead have seen the end of the war” (Plato), which justifies that war, was present thousands of years ago. “And it looks like we’re doing the same thing, over and over again” (Bradbury163). War in our country started with The French and Indian War, the American Revolution, then the Civil War, then the World Wars, and many more (Moore). In fact nowadays we cannot stop seeming to try and fight in wars in other countries, which leads to unnecessary deaths of our soldiers. A war is always going on somewhere because humans can never seem to just get along (Moore). Over and over again, war attempts to solve problems throughout history and that is why war can be considered a historical recurrence.

It is very apparent that historic recurrence is going to happen through war, book banning, and book burning. History proves over and over again that we can hardly solve any problems without war. Book banning and burnings have happened since early times when leaders like kings and popes want control over their followers. History is bound to repeat itself and we as humans may not recognize it, but regardless it will happen. As a famous quote says “Smart people learn from their mistakes, but the real sharp ones learn from the mistakes of others” (Mull). History can repeat itself in many ways seen, and unseen to people. It is what people learn from it that can help us not make the same mistakes again in the future.


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