Government Control

In the dystopic novel Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury creates a future where technology like the television and radio has replaced books. The government’s control plays an important role in this society because this totalitarian reign has censored anything that would have made someone unhappy or provoked thought, specifically relating to books. The government has made reading books illegal and any illegal book will be burned along with the house that they are sheltered in. They’ve restructured the education system so that instead of encouraging questions they teach empty facts to give people the idea that they are knowledgeable, and replaced other classes with sports. Bradbury writes in the novel, “‘School is shortened, discipline relaxed, philosophies, histories, languages dropped, English and spelling gradually neglected, finally almost completely ignored. Life is immediate, the job counts, pleasure lies all about after work. Why learn anything save pressing buttons, pulling switches, fitting nuts and bolts?’” (Bradbury 55-56) The government starts at a young age in school teaching the basic skills people would need to work. Every person is taught the same facts, so that no one person is smarter than the other. This idea is very similar to another dystopic novel, Anthem by Ayn Rand where people are brought up and raised to be equal without knowledge of ego or individuality. In both of these books the government, or higher level takes control of shaping the minds of people to be simpler, and more desensitized due to lack of thought, which will give the government a higher amount of control over the people. This desensitization shows in Fahrenheit 451 where there appears to be a war taking place in a different location. But the people in this society don’t think of the war, as it would cause unhappiness and worry so they focus on their own society without thought for others. This shows how the government’s control has given society a false sense of benefit, and an illusion of happiness. It was likely Bradbury’s love of books and time spent at libraries and typing his own stories (Raybradbury.com) that inspired him to write about a future where books are banned, burned and the problems that would be evident in this kind of society. The novel is satirical in relation to technological advances, how it could eventually replace the written word, and how much people will lose if this were to happen. The changing technology is the main focus of the novel, which differs from Anthem where technology has mostly disappeared and advancements are limited, as one person is not allowed to be smarter then others. Both focus on a theme of society and of equality, but in a very different technological setting.
-Sarah

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~ by sarahswe on June 7, 2010.

2 Responses to “Government Control”

  1. Do think there is a connection between decreased literacy and increased media and technology in society?

    • There is definitely a connection between increased media and technology and the decrease in literacy. Which can relate both to Fahrenheit 451, and the world today. Technology now has taken over, and not as many people would rather pick up a book to read instead of watching TV or playing video games. This is probably what Bradbury is commenting on in the novel, being a book lover himself.

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