Fahrenheit 451

Length: 4 Pages 1003 Words

Symbolism in Fahrenheit 451 Light, especially fire, and darkness are significantly reoccurring themes in Fahrenheit 451. Guy Montag, the main character, is a fireman, but in this futuristic world the job description of a fireman is to start fires wherever books are found; instead of putting them out. Montag takes a journey from a literary darkness to a knowledgeable light. This journey can be compared to the short story Allegory of the Cave by Plato, in which a prisoner experiences a similar journey. An example of light, in reference to knowledge, occurs just after Montag meets Clarisse for the first time. "When they reached her house all its lights were blazing" (9). Since Montag had rarely seen that many house lights on, I interpreted those lines as saying "that house is full of knowledge and enlightenment; not like the rest of the houses around here which are always dark." Clarisse went on to explain to Montag that her mother, father, and uncle were just sitting around and talking. This was also something that wasn't very commonplace in the city. Fire is an important element of symbolism in Fahrenheit 451. Fire consumes minds, spirits, men, ideas, and books. Fire plays two very different roles in this book. The role of a destru Continue...

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This represents how the totalitarian government in Fahrenheit 451 forces everyone to see only the government's beliefs and views. Montag mirrors the path taken by one of prisoners in Plato's Allegory of the Cave. Throughout Fahrenheit 451 Montag goes through a transformation from book burner to book preserver. At first, Montag could not and would not accept books, but he began to see the power they had, he began to see the truth. At first, the sun hurts him also, but the prisoner grows accustomed to the light. The prisoner went through a metamorphosis from illusion to wisdom. This signifies a future of hope and optimism. This symbolizes Montag's job of burning books and his helping to keep others in the dark; only showing them what the government wants them to see and know. During a moment of revelation Montag comes upon an interesting idea about fire and the burning of books that takes place. The burning described at this point represents the constructive energy that later leads to catastrophe. It was warming ... He hadn't known fire could look this way" (145-46). With this comment Montag realizes that he can no longer be a book burner, but that he has to preserve books. The same way Montag felt when he first learned the truth; it hurt to know that all he knew was false, but he began to accept it and he liked it and wanted to share this knowledge with others. The first role that fire plays in Fahrenheit 451 is apparent from the very beginning of Bradbury's novel.


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