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Analysis of Rab Bradbury’s Use of Literary Elements in Fahrenheit 451

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Table of contents

  1. Literary analysis
  2. Conclusion
  3. Works Cited

Literary analysis

When innovating, it must be kept in mind that people’s happiness is important and emotions are priceless. This should always be obeyed or societies will struggle to move on. When this rule is broken and people lose their emotions and happiness, something must be done to restore them to allow a better future. In the novel Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury conveys that to achieve happiness, one must stand up for themselves and act on what they believe is right, sometimes acting against the rules.

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First, Bradbury helps to show his message through the development of Montag throughout the story. Bradbury starts the book off by having Montag state, “It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed”. Montag enjoys his job at first and likes to see all the houses and books burn. However, suddenly he meets a new neighbor, Clarisse, and starts talking to her, and she brings all-new perspectives to what he thought previously. At the end of their first talk, she asks him, “Are you happy?” (Bradbury 7).

Clarisse leaves right after she asks this because her mom calls her, so Montag is left thinking about her question. He is confused with the question because he thinks it is stupid. He laughs at it and thinks that it is obvious that he is happy, because why wouldn’t he be. However, throughout the story, he begins to question if he is happy and realizes that with everything that is happening, he isn’t. While arguing with Mildred, he explains, ‘No, I don’t want to, this time. I want to hold on to this funny thing. God, it’s gotten big on me. I don’t know what it is. I’m so damned unhappy, I’m so mad, and I don’t know why I feel like I’m putting on weight. I feel fat. I feel like I’ve been saving up a lot of things, and don’t know what. I might even start reading books’ (Bradbury 61-62).

Not only does Montag finally admit and realize how unhappy he is, but he starts to break the rules. Montag realizes how unhappy he has become and wants to learn how to become happier. However, he doesn’t know what to do to become happier, so he starts to accept that he might start breaking the rules because reading is one of the few things he hasn’t tried. He has trouble understanding what he reads, so he meets with someone who can help him. Montag meets with a man called Faber, who he had seen was marked for a future investigation, so Montag knew he would be able to help him with his request.

As they talk, Faber jokes about a plan to rebel against the rules. Faber exclaims to Montag, “Now if you suggest we print extra books and arrange to have them hidden in firemen’s houses all over the country, so that seeds of suspicion would be sown among these arsonists, bravo, I’d say” (Bradbury 81).

Montag takes Faber’s joke seriously because he is at the point where he will do almost anything. Faber wasn’t confident to speak up and had been living in the darkness. However, Montag is willing to go against the rules to gain what he wanted. Through lots of running after setbacks in the plan, Montag escapes the city and finally isn’t unhappy anymore.

Moreover, Bradbury also uses many kinds of figurative language to help deliver his message. When the firemen get a call to investigate a house, they find many books hidden inside. Montag finds himself alone in a room full of books and it is said that, “Montag’s hand closed like a mouth, crushed the book with wild devotion, with an insanity of mindlessness to his chest” (Bradbury 34).

This simile is used to compare Montag’s hand to a mouth when closing to grab the book. Bradbury uses this simile to show how at the moment it kind of just happened and Montag didn’t think to do it. This helps to prove that Montag wanted to be happy so bad, that he involuntarily grabbed a book and didn’t even think about it. He didn’t think once to put it down; it never crossed his mind.

Later in the story when Montag arrives at the firehouse with Faber ‘in his ear’ he plays poker with the firemen and becomes very nervous. It was described that “his fingers were like evil ferrets that had done some evil and now never rested, always stirred and picked and hid in pockets moving from under Beatty’s alcohol-flame stare” (Bradbury 101). Related to how Montag’s hand closed like a mouth, Bradbury uses another simile to compare his fingers to ferrets that had done evil. Similar to before, this is giving his body a mind of its own, showing how all of this was meant to happen and must have happened.

Montag is at the point where he can’t control himself anymore because he just wants to do what is right. He just goes through with many things he wouldn’t have before if he hadn’t realized he wasn’t really happy. He stood up and acted on what he believed was the right thing, even involuntarily, because of his hunger for happiness.

Alternatively, Bradbury conveys his message through the audacious tone of his writing. Montag becomes very reckless as the story moves on, and almost gets out of control doing what he thinks is right. Montag is talking to the ladies that his wife invited over, and grows very angry at the way they think. He becomes very angry and recklessly he, “was gone and back in a moment with a book in his hand” (Bradbury 94).

Montag brings out a book and starts to read it to the ladies that Mildred had invited over. This act is very thoughtless and stupid to do right after making a plan with Faber. If he exposes himself now, they will never be able to go through with the plan and he will get them both caught. Later when Montag is caught and is talking to Beatty with a flamethrower in his hand, he again makes a stupid decision. Beatty was then described as, “a shrieking blaze, a jumping, sprawling, gibbering mannikin, no longer human or known, all writhing flame on the lawn as Montag shot one continuous pulse of liquid fire on him,” (Bradbury 113).

Montag once again decides at the moment that is stupid just because he thinks he is doing the right thing. This helps deliver the message with this audacious tone, because Montag wants to do the right thing so bad that he commits these reckless actions. He starts to want to rebel so much that he becomes very reckless, however because of his recklessness he is able to continue to move on and become happy in the end.

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In conclusion, happiness is very important and is worth breaking the rules to obtain. If people believe they aren’t happy, they should act up and do what they believe is right so they can gain their happiness. In the novel Fahrenheit 451, Rab Bradbury uses characterization, figurative language, and an audacious tone to convey his message that to obtain happiness one must act on their beliefs, sometimes against the rules. He shows how Montag gains his happiness by acting, sometimes audaciously, and constantly is using similes and many other forms of figurative language to help deliver the message.

Works Cited

  1. Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. New York, Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, June 2013.

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