Fahrenheit 451 Essay On Similarities To Our Society Has Accepted

From Beatty’s visit through the end of “The Hearth and the Salamander”

Summary

Captain Beatty comes by to check on Montag, saying that he guessed Montag would be calling in sick that day. He tells Montag that every fireman runs into the “problem” he has been experiencing sooner or later, and he relates to him the history of their profession. Beatty’s monologue borders on the hysterical, and his tendency to jump from one thing to another without explaining the connection makes his history very hard to follow. Part of the story is that photography, film, and television made it possible to present information in a quickly digestible, visual form, which made the slower, more reflective practice of reading books less popular. Another strand of his argument is that the spread of literacy, and the gigantic increase in the amount of published materials, created pressure for books to be more like one another and easier to read (like Reader’s Digest condensed books). Finally, Beatty says that “minorities” and special-interest groups found so many things in books objectionable that people finally abandoned debate and started burning books.

Mildred’s attention falters while Beatty is talking, and she gets up and begins absentmindedly straightening the room. In doing so, she finds the book behind Montag’s pillow and tries to call attention to it, but Montag screams at her to sit down. Beatty pretends not to notice and goes on talking. He explains that eventually the public’s demand for uncontroversial, easy pleasure caused printed matter to be diluted to the point that only comic books, trade journals, and sex magazines remained. Beatty explains that after all houses were fireproofed, the firemen’s job changed from its old purpose of preventing fires to its new mission of burning the books that could allow one person to excel intellectually, spiritually, and practically over others and so make everyone else feel inferior. Montag asks how someone like Clarisse could exist, and Beatty says the firemen have been keeping an eye on her family because they worked against the schools’ system of homogenization. Beatty reveals that he has had a file on the McClellans’ odd behaviors for years and says that Clarisse is better off dead.

Beatty urges Montag not to overlook how important he and his fellow firemen are to the happiness of the world. He tells him that every fireman sooner or later becomes curious about books; because he has read some himself, he can assert that they are useless and contradictory. Montag asks what would happen if a fireman accidentally took a book home with him, and Beatty says that he would be allowed to keep it for twenty-four or forty-eight hours, but that the other firemen would then come to burn it if he had not already done so himself. Beatty gets up to leave and asks if Montag will come in to work later. Montag tells him that he may, but he secretly resolves never to go again. After Beatty leaves, Montag tells Mildred that he no longer wants to work at the fire station and shows her a secret stock of about twenty books he has been hiding in the ventilator. In a panic, she tries to burn them, but he stops her. He wants to look at them at least once, and he needs her help. He searches for a reason for his unhappiness in the books, which he has apparently been stealing for some time. Mildred is frightened of them, but Montag is determined to involve her in his search, and he asks for forty-eight hours of support from her to look through the books in hopes of finding something valuable that they can share with others. Someone comes to the door, but they do not answer and he goes away. (Later it is revealed that the Mechanical Hound was the second visitor.) Montag picks up a copy of Gulliver’s Travels and begins reading.

Analysis

We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the constitution says, but everyone made equal. . . . A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it.

(See Important Quotations Explained)

In his explication of the history of book burning, Beatty equates deep thought with sadness, which he rejects as categorically evil. The immediacy of pleasure in this bookless society eliminates thought and, with it, the ability to express sadness, which is why people like Mildred carry around vast amounts of suppressed pain. According to Beatty, mass censorship began with various special-interest groups and minorities clamoring against material they considered offensive, as well as a shrinking attention span in the general populace. As a result, books and ideas were condensed further and further until they were little more than a series of sound bites; they were ultimately eliminated altogether in favor of other, more superficial, sensory-stimulating media. Mass production called for uniformity and effectively eliminated the variance once found in books.

The startling point of Beatty’s explanation is that censorship started with the people, not the government (although the government stepped in later in accordance with the people’s wishes). Most people stopped reading books long before they were ever burned. It is important to note that Beatty’s entire description of the history of the firemen has an oddly ambivalent tone. His speech is filled with irony and sarcasm, and his description of reading strikes the reader as passionate and nostalgic. His championing of book burning, on the other hand, has a perfunctory, insincere tone. Of course, this sarcasm reflects Bradbury’s attitude toward what he is writing about, and much of Beatty’s complexity stems from the fact that he is simultaneously Bradbury’s mouthpiece and villain—everything he says is deliberately ironic.

In the world of shallow hedonists in which Beatty and Montag live, everyone strives to be the same and “intellectual” is a dirty word. Superior minds are persecuted until they fall in line with everyone else. People who are not born equal are made equal. Funerals are eliminated because they are a source of unhappiness, death is forgotten as soon as it occurs, and bodies are unceremoniously incinerated. In this society, books are as morbid as corpses, because they contain dead thoughts by dead authors. This society idolizes fire, which represents the easy cleanliness of destruction. As Beatty explains, “Fire is bright and fire is clean.”

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Technology: A Menace To Our Society; Fahrenheit 451 Essay - With A Free Essay Review




When you think about it only a few years ago people used to lie down in their bedrooms and read novels that would lie on their bedside table. In the book Fahrenheit 451 books are not read anymore, in fact books are illegal. Soon society will stop publishing books altogether. People now have technology that puts books on screens rather them being read on paper. The updated technology now changes the society from the traditional aspects of it. Although technology helps society in many ways, it is hurting us, in this book Bradbury’s main character in fictional proof of how society will be in the future. People today are glued to their big screen televisions and that proves society to be a replica of Montag’s society. His wife (Helen) is glued to her “parlor walls” which are big screen televisions and she states this, “It’s really fun. It’ll be even more fun when we can afford to have our forth wall installed. How long you figure before we save up and get our forth wall-TV put in? It’s only two thousand dollars” (Helen). She is actually saying that she does not care how much it costs or how hard she has to work for it, she just wants the wall-TV put in so that she can be top of the line. That message is engraved into people’s thoughts in this society. This thought process needs to change before society ends up like that of Fahrenheit 451.

According to an article modern technology makes our society become lazier as a whole. The article states, “Businesses come out with new technology… students have to constantly keep up with it and it leaves the people in our society lazier” (Technology future helpful or hurting). People can see this proof just by walking down the streets or paying attention in their own home. People walk all around with their heads buried in technology and this is enough proof to show that technology is taking society over. Technology took over society in the book now society is witnessing this madness with their eyes.

Many people are starting to believe that technology is actually beginning to dumb down our society. While reading an article I saw this, “Spelling is not everyone’s strength” (Connecting or Hurting Humanity). It is not a strength that everyone can possess; however, people have dictionaries to help them with spelling. Now we have “spell check” and that does not help with spelling, it makes it easier so people do not have to take time to look a word up. People who have a hard time spelling need to purchase a dictionary to improve their skills- not cheat their way out of it. Not knowing how to spell should not be an excuse as to why they are using technology to give the impression of being intelligent. People look into all of the new technology that they are purchasing instead of looking into textbooks or their own minds. Also, people look into the Internet and it’s search engines and other resources. Society’s people used to look into encyclopedias or go to the town library for answers but now they type a question into a search engine and receive feedback within a few seconds. If people want to be smarter, then technology is not the way to go. Taking advantage of technology to seem smarter is showing how society in this world is becoming that of society in the fictional world that Bradbury created.

People are becoming overwhelmed with all of the new technological gadgets. Only a few years ago, talk about technology that would help communication was not quite being spoken of yet. Now people have multiple types of social devices and websites. People cannot keep up with all of the updates. A few years ago people had to write letters and/or walk down the road to have a conversation. Now people text and email each other with only a few key strokes. There is the answer as to why society’s communication skills are below average. People do not know or understand what communication does that is important. Communication skills have never been so low; society’s communication is sliding down a spiral of misfortune. People will soon realize that technology does not mean as much as they believe. Technology will never be worth losing a real society to replicate Bradbury’s society.

With all of this technology people are starting to lose control of their life in an incompetent way. An article that believes technology hurts how society works had this to say, “Over the past few decades, technology has grown at an exponential rate” (Technology Future Helpful or Hurting). “All these gadgets and devices have developed the standard of living for humanity so much that we simply cannot live without them” (Technology Future Helpful or Hurting). These statements give a strong opinion that will soon become facts. For teens, especially, if society had technology wiped off of the face of the Earth they would have no idea of what to do. The human race would be so devastated that it would seem like a God created disaster when it would only be a small breach in their lives. The characters in Fahrenheit 451 cannot live without technology by their side and society in life is simply catching up.

Soon people will be looking into technology as every aspect of their life. In the book Fahrenheit 451 a mechanical hound is being described by Montag and he states this, “Irritated, but not completely angry. Just enough ‘memory’ set up in it by someone so it growled when I touched it” (Montag). Technology will not just carry knowledge for someone to use, but it will become like another member of a family. This means that technology will soon take over society after being part of people’s lives for a long period of time. Technology took over Montag’s society; it will take over this society.

People look at technology as their own lifeline, that if it was lost the human race would become brain dead, not because technology will become a disease, but because people look at technology like nothing else can help them. People always look at technology to light their pathway. All of our social devices and computer tools are advantages that no one person could imagine losing. If people do not start looking into their own minds for answers technology will be the only thing that they know like the society of Fahrenheit 451.

Works Cited Page

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. New York: Ballantine Books, 1953. Print.

Refdesk. “Technology Future Helpful or Hurting” January 19, 2012 http://www.refdesk.com

Refdesk. “Connecting or Hurting Humanity” January 19, 2012 http://www.refdesk.com

Poodwaddle “Connecting or Hurting Humanity” January 19, 2012 http://www.poodwaddle.com/clocks/worldclock/(2)

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ESSAY REVIEW

Your essay is about the similarities between the dystopian society described in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and the state of present and future society given the nature of our increasing dependence on modern technology. Your discussion of the novel is very limited in scope, however. Your essay seems to depend on your reader's knowledge of the novel and the type of society it describes, whereas I think it ought either to inform the reader fully of the nature of that society (with extensive reference, quotation, and analysis) or give up using the novel as a touchstone for modern society's technological woes. Another general problem with the essay is that it tends to be one-sided. You tend to look only at one (negative) side of the impact of technology. You also look only at alleged similarities between modern society and the society described by Bradbury. I think your essay would be more compelling as a whole if you acknowledged the possible advantages of technology and conceded the differences between the two societies; we are not burning books yet, and arguably technology makes more books available to more people than ever before. Burning books, of course, is a heightened form of censorship, which is an issue relevant to the discussion of modern society that you might consider addressing in your essay.

Let's look now at a few of the specific claims you make in the essay. We'll start here: "People walk all around with their heads buried in technology and this is enough proof to show that technology is taking society over." There are two problems here:

1) that's not enough proof; in fact, it's not proof at all; it's just an assertion.

2) the claim that you started out with, and that you needed to prove, was not that technology is taking over society (which is so vague as to be meaningless) but that technology is making people lazier (which is concrete, and therefore meaningful, but unproven in your essay).

In the next paragraph, you do return to the argument about the relationship between technology and laziness indirectly and implicitly in your discussion of the claim that technology "is ... beginning to dumb down our society." The discussion here centers on the issue of the ability to spell, which you seem to take implicitly as an index of intelligence, and the relative virtues of looking words up in a physical book as opposed to having a software program alert you to errors and suggest corrections (spell-check). You find looking words up in books a greater source of learning, but it is not clear why, beyond the fact that it takes longer.

You also claim that we are “taking advantage of technology to seem smarter.” But here again you offer an assertion in the guise of an argument. How do we know that people are using technology to seem smarter? Couldn't one argue with equal or greater right that it would be stupid not to take advantage of a technology that helps us avoid errors? I use spell check because it speeds up the onerous job of proofreading and so frees up time that I can devote to more meaningful tasks (like watching Liverpool FC- actually, I proofread while watching football, which is probably not the best way to go about it).

Some claims in the essay are just bizarre: "A few years ago people had to write letters and/or walk down the road to have a conversation." Unless you are using "few years" as an ironic figure for "many decades," or unless you are talking about people in a part of a world that waited for modern wireless technology before introducing telephony, I think the claim is false. To judge by the standard of essays that I see these days, however, I'm tempted to agree with your next claim that "communication skills have never been so low" but, on the one hand, it would be stupid of me to judge by that standard (selection bias!) and, on the other hand, your essay provides no data at all to support the assertion.

In the next paragraph, you say that "people are starting to lose control of their life in an incompetent way." That's not what you meant to say (in that you did not mean to suggest that there is a competent way of losing control of one's life) but the larger problem again is the quality of evidence used to support the claim you did intend to make. To support the idea that we're losing control of our life, you cite an article that states that technology has improved the standard of living. To be sure, the article also states that "we simply cannot live without" modern gadgets, but on the one hand that's not the same as stating that we're losing control, and on the other hand it’s a patent exaggeration. You follow the article's lead in this respect, making very strong claims about the extent of society's dependence on technology; if it disappeared, "teens ... would have no idea of what to do." Perhaps that is true, but your essay will be more compelling if it relies less on speculation and more on evidence-supported arguments.

Best, EJ.

Submitted by: kirstynn

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