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An Analysis of Symbolism of The Phoenix in Fahrenheit 451

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Lascelles Abercrombie once said, “There is only one thing which can master the perplexed stuff of epic material into unity; and that is, an ability to see in particular human experience some significant symbolism of man’s general destiny.” This quote can be related to Fahrenheit 451 by the symbolism of the Phoenix that gives hope to some characters in the story. Ray Bradbury, a 20th-century novelist, short story writer, and screenplay writer, in Fahrenheit 451 uses symbolism as a main element and has been complimented as writing a “Frightening account of this insane world, which bears many alarming resemblances to our own, is fascinating.”

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The 20th century began without planes, televisions, and of course, computers. These inventions radically transformed the lives of people around the globe, with many changes originating in the United States. There were two world wars that occurred in this century. It was also the tenth and final century of the 2nd millennium. The second half of the 20th century saw humanity’s first space exploration. The death of Queen Victoria in 1901 and the accession of Edward VII seemed to confirm that a franker, less inhibited era had begun. Many Edwardian novelists were eager to explore the shortcomings of English social life. The most significant writing of the period, traditionalist or modern, was inspired by neither hope nor apprehension, but by bleacker feelings that the new century would witness the collapse of a whole civilization.

The 20th century was dominated by a group of events that heralded significance in world history as to redefine the era. The two world wars that occurred in this era were named World War I and World War II. This era saw great advances in communication and medical technology which allowed for worldwide computer communication and genetic modification of life. From 1908 to 1914, there was a remarkably productive period of innovation and experiment as novelists and poets undertook, in anthologies and magazines, to challenge the literary conventions including the post-Romantic era. The 1900s saw the introduction of the first silent movie, and the teddy bear.

In 1908, there was a massive and mysterious explosion Siberia, which was devastating. Another event that was tragic is the Titanic, which hit an iceberg and sank, taking the lives of more than 1,500 the 1910s. The Roaring 20s was a time of a booming stock market, speakeasies, short skirts, the Charleston, and jazz. There were great strides in women’s suffrage, as a result of that women got the vote in 1920. The Great Depression hit the world hard in the 1930s. The Nazis grew in power in Germany, and they began a systematic persecution of Jews in Europe. Then the Nazis invaded Poland and sparked the beginning of World War II. The war was already underway by the time 1940s began, and it was the big event of the first half of the decade. There were millions of Jews that were killed during the Holocaust.

Shortly after the W.W.II ended, the Cold War began between the West and the Soviet Union. The 1940s also witnessed the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. The 1950s are sometimes referred to as the space race between the United States, and the Soviet Union began. Segregation ruled illegal in the U.S., and this started the civil rights movement. The 1960s can be summed up as the Vietnam War, hippies, drugs, protests, can get my word and rock’n roll. Some other revolutionary movements that occurred where the Stonewall Riots, the beginnings of gay rights, the Women’s Lib movement, in the continuing and growing civil rights movement. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; also made his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. The geopolitics was equally dramatic as a revolutionary cultural.

Technological advancements during W.W.I changed the way war was fought, as new inventions such as tanks, chemical weapons, aircraft modified tactics and strategy. At the beginning of the period, the British Empire was the world’s most powerful nation, having acted as the world’s policeman for the past century. The U.S.S.R. saw to export communism while the U.S. attempted to containment. These two sides led to substantial investment in research and development which produce innovations that reach far beyond the battlefield, such as space exploration and the internet (Rosenberg).

The Vietnam War was still a major event in the early 1970s. Tragic events dominated the era, including the deadliest earthquake of the century. During the 1980s, Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev’s policies of glasnost and perestroika began the end of the Cold War. This was soon followed by the surprising fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. In the 1990s, the Cold War ended, the internet changed life as everyone knew it. The 1990s seemed a decade of both hope and relief, but it also saw its fair share of tragedy.

Ray Douglas Bradbury was born August 22, 1920, in Waukegan, Illinois, United States. Bradbury wrote fantastical dystopian novels, a chance ‘Fahrenheit 451’ and short stories. Bradbury was a giant of American literature. His contribution to science fiction and literature as a whole, can’t be overstated. Although he created the world of new technical and intellectual ideas, he never obtained a driver’s license, and he had never driven a car before.

He was the third son in the family. His father, Leonard Spaulding Bradbury, was a telephone lineman and technician. His mother, Esther Marie Bradbury, was a Swedish immigrant. His grandfather and great-grandfather were newspaper publishers. In 1934, his family settled in Los Angeles, California. Bradbury learned from reading works of such writers as Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky, and among others, after he graduated from high school in 1938.

While he worked by selling newspapers, spending some days in the local library and nights at the typewriter, there are two stories in fanzines. In 1941, he became a paid writer when the pulp magazine ‘Science Stories’ published his short story, titled ‘Pendulum,’ and he was a full-time writer by the end of 1942. Bradbury then shot to international fame after the publication of ‘The Martian Chronicles’ in 1950. It was a collection of short stories varsity based on ideas from ancient Greek and Roman mythology. It took Bradbury just nine days to write Fahrenheit 451 and he did it in the basement of the UCLA library on a rented typewriter. The title of his classic novel, by the way, comes from the temperature at which paper burns without being exposed to flame. Bradbury grew up in Waukegan, Illinois, and hung around the fire station as a kid along with his dad.

He wrote the original manuscript of ‘Fahrenheit 451’ from nothing but handwritten notes and outlines. He is considered by many to be the greatest science-fiction writer of the 20th century, he suffers from a fear of flying and driving. He never learned to drive, and he didn’t fly in an airplane until October 1982. Bradbury has never can find his vision to the purely literary. He adapted 65 if his stories were television’s Ray Bradbury Theater. He was the creative consultant on the United States Pavilion at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.

In 1982, he created the interior metaphors for the Spaceship Earth display at Epcot Center. This later also contributed to the conception of the Orbitron space ride at Euro-Disney, France. Bradbury was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1999.

He was awarded Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters by French culture minister Frederic Mitterrand in 2007. Many of his books have been made into major motion pictures and several have won him awards, including the O’Henry Memorial Award, the Benjamin Franklin Award, the Aviation Space Writers Association Award, and the Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America. He was also awarded the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. Icarus Montgolfier Wright, his animated film about the history of flight, was nominated for an academy award. He also won an Emmy for the teleplay of The Halloween Tree.

Married since 1947, Mr.Bradbury and his wife Maggie lived in Los Angeles with their numerous cats. Together, they raised four daughters and had eight grandchildren. His wife, however, passed away in November of 2003. Maggie was the only girl Bradbury ever dated. She held down a full-time job while Ray stayed at home and wrote, which was virtually unheard of in the 1940s.

Bradbury once said that when he died, he planned to have his ashes placed in a Campbell’s Tomato Soup can and planted on Mars. Then he decided that he wanted to have a place his fans could visit, and thought he’d design his own gravestone included the names of his books. However, in the end, he ended up going with something a whole lot simpler, which is a plane headstone bearing his name and ‘Author of Fahrenheit 451.’ Bradbury passed away on June 5, 2012, Los Angeles, California.

Symbolism began as a reaction to the literal representation of subjects trying to create more suggestive and evocative works. It had its roots in literature would poets such as Baudelaire believing ideas and emotions could be conveyed not only through the meaning of words, so in there sound and rhythm. Colors, objects, seasons, people, situations and words are all types of symbolism that authors may use in their literary work. Symbolism means to imbue objects with a certain meaning that is different from their original meaning or function. Authors use symbolism to tie certain things that may initially seem unimportant to more universal themes.

The symbols then represent these grander ideas or qualities. An example would be, an author may use a particular color that on its own is nothing more than a color, but hints at a deeper meaning. We use symbols all the time in everyday life. For example, companies use symbols as shorthand to represent their brand. There are also cultural symbols, such as a dove representing peace. We use tangible symbols, which means actual objects, to represent ideas or qualities that are not tangible. These ideas and qualities are typically abstract nouns, which is an idea or concept that can’t be seen or touched.

The symbolist movement in literature has its Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil) by Charles Baudelaire. The aesthetic was articulated through a series of manifestoes, attracting a generation of writers. The works of Edgar Allan Poe, which Baudelaire are greatly admired and translated into French, we’re a significant influence. Symbolists believed that art should aim to capture more absolute truths.

The movement also known as synthesis and flourished from around 1885 and continued until 1910. In symbolism’s faith in the power of expressivity possible in a color or a line, the movement is crucial in understanding the development of the abstract arts in the 20th century. There are plenty of short stories out there, but few grasp what the purpose behind the short length really means. A short story should be founded upon the idea that a deep meaning can be portrayed in a few pages. A story that can get to that meaning, and leave readers pondering, even after just three pages, is worth the minimal time investment. Symbols can be read and understood, regardless of the person’s language or literary skills.

The styles of the symbolism for painters varied considerably, but they shared many of the same themes particularly a fascination with the mystical and the visionary. There were two French men, Odilon Redon, and Paul Gauguin, who were leading figures of the movement. However, the symbolism was not limited to France. The erotic, the perverse, death and debauchery we’re also regular interest for the symbolists. Symbolism is important in representing significant aspects, such as religion, politics, color, architecture, science, advertising, and many others. A symbol provides more information about an object’s description than what is written. We can use symbols to explain something very big and they tell us everything about it with just one look.

Symbols are mostly available as collection or sets. They are used wildly in everyday life as a kind of visual language. Abstract Concepts such as ‘through,’ ‘tomorrow’ or ‘what’ are difficult to convey in a pictorial way. Many guessable symbols represent objects, rather than abstract ideas, and may be represented in similar ways in different symbol sets. A metaphor is kind of like a symbol, but its usually used briefly, whereas a symbol is usually extended throughout a story or poem. If something is in the gray area between metaphor and symbol, you can call it either.

Ultimately, it is your decision whether to choose to describe the words as a metaphor or symbol. Authors may critique symbols that already exist in their culture or someone else’s. An allegory is a complex form of symbolism in which the entire story is a symbol for something else. Allegories have been used since ancient times to deliver stories about cultural values, heritage, and history. Ancient mythologies often take the form of allegories for deep psychological and spiritual truths, while several stories in the New Testament are allegories for Christian moral truths.

‘Fahrenheit 451’ is a story set in the 24th century, where the population is controlled and books are considered illegal. The main character, Guy Montag, is a fireman in charge of burning any book that is found. This novel is divided into three sections: ‘The Hearth and the Salamander,’ ‘The Sieve and the Sand’ and ‘Burning Bright.’ Montag meets Clarisse McClellan who, unlike most of the population, is interested in learning. Later on, it is revealed that Montag has been hiding books. He also meets an outlaw group who preserve books by memorizing them before they are destroyed. In spite of all the tragedies he has faced, Montag is determined to survive and help to build a new and free society. At the end of the plot, he and the exiled intellectuals walk towards the burned out city to rebuild a new and free society, where books are treasured and ideas are shared.

The novel, ‘Fahrenheit 451,’ was written in the early 1950s, by Ray Bradbury, which is a futuristic novel. In a time where books and thinking were outlawed. Bradbury uses some literary devices in this novel, such as symbolism. However, it’s the idea he wants to impart that makes his novel fascinating. Bradbury warns us of what may occur if we completely stopped expressing our ideas, and we allow people to control us.

The Phoenix has been used as a symbol of great importance for thousands of years expressing the beliefs of the Egyptians and Chinese in the ancient times. The Phoenix assists the author, Ray Bradbury to give hope to a futuristic censorship society without any passion, morals, or beliefs. In Fahrenheit 451, Montag, Clarisse, Faber, and others are all portrayed as phoenixes in there very changing the society they live in.

The symbolic meaning of the Phoenix is about overcoming darkness and rising to the challenge to become powerful and succeed. However, the Phoenix has a legacy or different meaning in many other cultures. The Phoenix is a mythical bird that never dies. It may represent our capacity for vision or events unfolding within our environment. It may also represent the death and rebirth of the Sun.

The Phoenix also shares some close ties to religion, the Bible, and Jesus. It can be said that Bradbury effectively uses the symbol and meaning of the Phoenix to represent a sense of rebirth, an end of suffering, and immortality within Fahrenheit 451. Bradbury shows death and resurrection in Montag spiritually when he has chosen to create a new life for himself among the intellectuals.

Ray Bradbury cleverly used the phoenix as a representation of hope throughout the novel, symbolising Montag and his inspirational journey. The word phoenix had symbolized immortality, but for the people in Fahrenheit 451, their only hope was that the phoenix would be burn out, and be reborn again. The myth of the phoenix gave optimism to the life of Montag, to the books, and to the world of Fahrenheit 451. The world was now dying, and nobody seemed to care, because the government had brainwashed the people. It was a situation, where not only the brave, but the ones who can think for themselves, who can help break the government’s control.

Our own society can be referenced by Bradbury’s phoenix symbolism by seeing how we are always able to be reborn from our own destruction. Through Grange’s thoughts, Bradbury expresses the similarities between Man and the Phoenix effectively because it gives the reader a sense of self-renewed hope for mankind. Since Man can remember the mistakes that he has made and hope to learn from them in the future. In ‘Fahrenheit 451,’ some characters dislike the ‘status-quo’ of society and strive to end it. However, they struggle to end the suffering they have each been put through due to the prevailing views of their futuristic society.

Bradbury secretly hides hidden facts the hint towards the idea that each heroic character is a Phoenix in their own way. Ultimately, the Phoenix represents a new type of hope or shining light after it is born in its own ashes. This relates to Jesus, by being shown through Montag and his spiritual resurrection. Throughout all of mankind’s history, the Phoenix has always had some connection with the practiced religion of the time. It can be compared to Christianity and Christ because both gave up their lives for the greater good of the future.

Bradbury gives reason to believe that in addition to Montag, Clarisse and Faber contrast between the newborn and the aged. He also uses the Phoenix to renew religious beliefs back into Montag’s life and moral-less society. It is ironic, in the real world, people were always talking about how people wasted paper, which means wasting trees, but in the world of Fahrenheit 451, every tree that had been cut down, and was used for books was now being burned away. Hope was a word, many people used to help them succeed in something, but for the people in the novel, the word Phoenix was the driving force that would help them fly over the fire.

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Overall, symbolism added to the power and effect behind this book. Throughout the novel symbols such as the heath, the salamander, the Phoenix, and the fire were used to describe someone or something. It can probably be said that this novel, which was written in the early 1950s, spoke out against the future and censorship, but we must always attempt to better or improve ourselves with knowledge, and always create our own ideas. If you accomplish this goal, then we will have gotten the message that Ray Bradbury was trying to convey to us.

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