Examination of moral and social principles of dystopic society in Fahrenheit 451 with similar lines from Brave New World
In Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury’s fear of the books being burned ruthlessly due to their unorthodoxical content is manifested itself distinctly and throughout the book. The repressions carried out during Soviet period specially during 20s for the books that went against the socially and governmentally held beliefs, and oppressive regime, alongside with books being burnt during Nazi regime in Germany should have a lasting effect on Bradbury and be the reason for his fear. Therefore, ‘Fahrenheit 451’ was specifically based on Bradbury’s reasoning that behind every book there lies an individual’s years spent and efforts, thoughts poured in, because of these, how unrighteous it is to burn books. Burning books is to be meant that with his lines ” so if he ( Montag, protagonist, a fireman) burned things(books and houses accomodating those books) with the firemen, and the sun burnes Time, that is meant that everything is burned”.
Besides, alike in the book ‘Brave new World’, the men’s final end was also questioned in this book. Men’s final end was presented as happiness and identity. The happiness that is critical to the stability in the society described in Fahrenheit 451 is shallow emotions. The parlor walls (3 or 4 walls of tv screens) are low substitutes for family values, warm converstaion with lovely relatives. Bradbury also brings light to the horrifying consequences that technology could bring on: the parlor walls which are massive tv screens and speak to the person in front of it, with pauses giving that person a chance to join the conversation, or seashell ears that are once plugged in, the person gets detached from the reality. With the words and confusion of Montag the protagonist, and a fireman in the book,Bradbury shows how the irreplacable spouse conversation is brutally interfered with parlor walls and seashell ears that Montag’s wife, Mildred, has been absorbed with. That moment Montag understands that they are mismatched, or rather, they are victimized by technology. The planetary motto of ” Community, Stability and Identity” that is tattooed into minds of everyone in ‘Brave new World’holds itself in Fahrenheit451, as well. People are replica of minds of each other and according to the profession or your role in society, there are seperate social images: ” Had he ever seen a fireman that did not have black hair, black brows, a fiery face, and a blue-steel shaved but unshaved look? These men were all mirror images of himself” However, being different is not tolerated as stability comes with social identity and if someone does not feel a part of this identity and mindset, s/he is a threat to the stability, s/he will try to create chaos and try to pull out the mass from that doomed social identity chains. This is also one great point that made me question the importance of replicated identity and individualism; and whether individualism really leads to chaotic situation and elimination of stability.
Likewise in Brave new World, family values are degraded, but not to its extreme degree. ‘Everyone belongs to everyone else’ the hypnopaedic proverb in ‘Brave new World’ does not hold itself in the Bradbury’s distopic society. Reproduction is considered as indispensable for the continuity of the human race, and there are families, albeit with loose bonds, to ensure this biological aspect of human life. However, what is unsettling about family life is that there is no tight supreme and sacred bonds bound the families in Bradbury’s vision of distopic society. Having children is considered as having a part in contributing to the continuity of human race, the degrading treatment of children and the lack of friendship and loyalty to your husband are presented in the words of Millie’s friend in the book.
Moreover, the thing that remaines unaltered in that distopic society is the government regime and endless wars. Similar to the idea in Brave new World, mind conditioning has also taken place in Bradbury’s society, yet in a milder form without the interference of sleep-learning hypnopaedic procedures. With keeping the minds of mass engaged in light indulgence with comics books, speedy jet cars, sports and not letting them read the ‘old outdated contendted’ books of reminiscence, people become narrow minded, get their basic pleasure in parlor walls and superficial talkings about the politics they recieve through propogandized tv news. And the government takes advantage of this ignorant yet happy mass, by declaring their sublime end as of stability and happiness of the society. However, here unlike from Brave new World, the minority non-conformists are not banished or sent to exiles where one could not trace the path of mankind. But rather the minority is pressured and oppressed under the tyranny of majority. It is the society of majority not unanimity. Thus, Huxley’s alternative for the non-conformists like Savage and others to express their individuality far away from the chains of social identity and social image, in freezy always-wintry island is not offered by Ray Bradbury. Thus, minority is deprived of “having their harps to play’. But the minority could also exile themselves in order to escape from either being jailed, killed or being burned.
The book made me ponder on the final purpose of men in this world: Are shallow happiness, stability and peace at the expense of free thinking liberal spirit and oppression of minority, the final end that men pursue toward? This was the question that answered my unanswered question in philosophy class: ‘Cavid mellim, why Hegel, particularly insisted on the freedom and freedom of consciousness as a final end of men that the world history is going to realise?’ I understood, after reading ‘1984’, ‘Brave new World, and ‘Fahrenheit 451’, why exclusively and emphatically, men’s final end should not be happiness or stability, even if the societies, humankind has got worn out of poverty, recurrent wars and chaos.
BY: Sona Verdiyeva