It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed.
Key ideologies that are shown to be integral to the class struggle and revolutionary concepts that progress the ‘base’ of society and through economic determinism provide direction for the development of the ‘superstructure’. In discussing how Bradbury chooses to portray these aspects, the idea that minds are not free and the text is shaped by the authors views can be fully explored.
The society of the novel rewards shying from free thought with false sense of inclusivity as shown by Mildred’s parts in the parlour ‘family’ shows.
Mildred drowns out the outside world with seashell radio and her drugs. As the proletariat she consumes propaganda given by the bourgeoise. Here Bradbury shows how disconnected those become when they become ‘cogs’ in the system.
Fahrenheit 451 is a metaphor for the growing loss of individualism of American society which follows an encroaching influence of television and consumerism seen in Bradbury’s life.
“I cant talk to my wife, she listens to the walls” – Montag has no one to confide in and this exemplifies the ideas that the totalitarian government dehumanises the populace for them to fall in line.
The ‘parlour family’ engulfs and distracts the audience by forcing meaningless content into the minds of the viewer, distracting them from real world concerns that are clearly neglected like the rampant deaths of teenagers.
Response to the introduction of television in the 50s and Bradbury’s weariness.
Our central character constantly brings light to the loss of individuality in the world, where ‘firemen’ are only ‘hands’ in the machine, acting as agents of the bourgeoise only for the effect of wider control and ‘dumbing down’ of society. Bradbury writes at a time of television’s introduction into the US in the 50s where the onslaught of mindless entertainment and instant gratification, no time is allowed for thought. We see this as a feature of control where the firemen’s job keep the access to individual thought far from anyone’s reach as to maintain one singular stream of content.
We see these ideas of the use of mass media to exert control and warp views for the benefit of a Totalitarian government in other dystopian novels like 1984 and Brave New World. Approaching this new technology with weariness.
It is believed that any ‘conflicitng thoughts’ may cause interefence and sour the calm equilibrium of the ‘happy world’ of parlour families, reckless teenagers.
The suppression of language with the burning of books, Beatty mentions the ‘Tower of Babel”
Bradbury challenges this view and clearly reflects his personal criticism of the idea of the suppression of thought seen in the ‘book burnings’ carried out by the Nazis in an attempt to stifle any opposing views that would undermine propaganda. In portraying the firemen as bringers of censorship, Bradbury CORRUPTS THE HEROIC QUALITY OF FIREMEN WHICH shows how easily established social images can be undermined and inverted by the bourgousie to control public views.
People no longer shape their society through free through manifested in literature and intellectual discussion, Granger, the leader of the resistance group, notes how his grandfather’s passing robbed the world of ‘ten million fine actions’ which highlights an admiring lens through which Bradbury sees individuals who seek out to improve and development society. This loss of individualism seen in 50s America which is reflected in the book.
It is the base of production, commodities and tools that shapes the ideology of that society, here we see the overt control system where religion, culture and philosophy comes from the base of production which allows the bourgeoisie to maintain an all seizing grip on every aspect of a person’s life.
Bradbury has created a microcosmic impression of the Capitalist society that heavily revolves around the idea of materialism and methods of oppression through overt and subtle control structures employed by the bourgeoisie.
Mildred and her friends live in ignorance bliss about the tragedies of war, children and general societal ills. Bradbury parallels the suburban lifestyle that lives a fantasy world away from the inner-city struggles. Here we see class struggles
“they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy.” – Beatty – Mildred is so enthralled by the family in the parlour that she becomes blind to the actual loss of her own family.
“just sit, and think,” – Clarisse talks about olden days- Bradbury shows that there was once a time, reflective of our society where technology was not all intrusive – clearly shown by the 3 walled tvs literally engulfing Mildred’s home – and maybe the social structures were reversed, where thought and ideology shaped the superstructure of society. Bradbury shows how the bourgeoise censor by the removal of porches to ever show that people would interact and form relationships. Denying its existence, this idea of hiding things from the populace in order to exert control is similar to the Nazi’s cultural purging of all opposing ideologies in Germany.
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