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There is a definitive and quite distinct difference between wholesome, quality entertainment and addiction. In the novel Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury very clearly states the variation among the two. Through his examples and characters in his story about a very realistic society, he expresses his opinions and almost foresees something quite relevant to society today. However, there will always be those select few who will recognize the worthlessness of mindless propaganda that seems to infect the minds of humankind.
Television takes a prominent role in the script of everyday life. Additionally, it takes an even larger role in the lives of the citizens of Bradbury’s metropolis. Actually, it is more of a brain cell cemetery. For example, Mildred, the main character’s (Montag’s) wife, is constantly bombarded with television and radio programs. In fact, three walls in the parlor of the couple’s home have been converted into giant television screens! For Mildred, however, this is not good enough. She whines that having a fourth wall installed would make her happy, and that she couldn’t possibly be happy without it. Her argument is that the installation would only be $2,000 and that in order to earn this money they could just “do without a few things”. This could be considered addictive, taking into account that she is willing to give up part of the way that she lives in order to further intoxicate her mind and make her even number to the world around her. And as a result of this constant flow of trivial nonsense into her system, she is made to feel as though she is thinking for herself, acting for herself, and having a wonderful time.
During the time that Ray Bradbury had written this book, television was a brand new invention. It was not too terribly popular yet, but he thought that it posed a problem. In Ray’s mind, people would be consumed by irrelevant and insignificant programs, which may become habit-forming as time progressed. He wrote of enormous televisions, which we can relate to modern-day flat screens. Bradbury foretold of people becoming reliant on technology, and not being able to ponder life and all of its questions… to just stop and smell the roses! This is all very relatable to modern society, and it is easy to see where it fits into everyday life. Clarisse, a seventeen year old girl in Fahrenheit 451, is able to show Montag that life does not have to be lived in such a way as to think that being unaware of the world is a good thing. She is able to show him that there are ways to enjoy one’s self without needing anything but an open mind.
Clarisse is one of those genuine people who are able to think for themselves, who asks the “why” instead of the “how” of things. Furthermore, the intellectuals that Montag meets also have that same zest for life. They are able to understand the importance and necessity of the thoughts of others in the past. These intellectuals realize that a better understanding and perception of life can come from theminds of others. Faber, an exceptionally odd character, is also one of those remarkable people. He is able to realize that true entertainment comes from enjoying life and exploring its mysteries. He is able to find joy in free-thinking and learning in a way that is completely separate from the superficial way of his society. Montag also slowly comes to this great discovery throughout the book. It starts with him just being curious. But isn’t that all it takes to do something great, a spark of curiosity?
In conclusion, Mr. Bradbury’s position is clear as crystal in his novel Fahrenheit 451. Entertainment consists of inspiring and enlightening ideas and activities, while addiction can come easily and swiftly from those things that will deaden the mind and will bring nothing of value into the thoughts of mankind. And even though they can be rare, those who are able to look past those things and find the worthwhile substance in life will gain more out of life by being able to look at the world in new ways.