Fahrenheit 451: Character Analysis

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In the book Fahrenheit 451, written by Ray Bradbury, Montag never got to experience the knowledge and truths held in books, especially because his job was to burn them. This knowledge from books gave you a type of power that no one else could ever achieve without doing one simple thing; reading. This was normal, though, and no one ever really saw reading as an option. People living in this society were taught that books were dangerous, almost poisonous, and everyone’s freedom of choice was being taken away, without them even noticing, or caring for that matter. Bradbury addresses these struggles through character metamorphosis, wisdom, and character dialogue.

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Mindless stimulation and titillation do not create lasting satisfaction. This means that living a half-life does not bring happiness. You have to think and process things to be able to live a full life. For example, Montag thought he was happy being a fireman, but realized it was just society telling him he needed to be. This realization came to mind because his friend, Clarisse asked him is he was happy, He felt his smile slide away, melt, fold, over and down on itself like a tallow skin, like the stuff of a fantastic candle burning too long and now collapsing and now blown out. Darkness. He was not happy. He said the words to himself. He recognized this as the true state of affairs. He wore his happiness like a mask and the girl had run off across the lawn with the mask and there was no way of going to knock on her door and ask for it back. Montag admitted to himself that he wasn’t happy, and everything changed. Bradbury might be trying to emphasize the wisdom that you can’t gain happiness from a fake type of lifestyle. This moment leads to Montag standing up for himself, fighting for his freedom from societal norms and laws, and his acts of rebellions. Also, Montag, when alone and completely himself, the fake smile we wear and the fake happiness he has completely faded away. He felt his smile slide away, melt, fold, over and down on itself like a tallow skin, like the stuff of a fantastic candle burning too long and now collapsing and now blown out. This shows the transparency of his happiness and how he’s almost living a fake life.

Some things are worth fighting and even dying for. In time and setting in this book, books are illegal. Although, some people read them anyway, and after discovering ways to find freedom, they would do anything to not have it taken away from them. For example, On the front porch where she had come to weigh them quietly with her eyes, her quietness a condemnation, the woman stood motionless. Beatty flicked his fingers to spark the kerosene. He was too late. Montag gasped. The woman on the porch reached out with contempt to them all and struck the kitchen match against the railing. People ran out of houses all down the street. This part in the book is important to Montag because he started to question everything and wonder things he’s never wondered before. He realized that after the woman discovered books, she refused to go back to the world without them. So, after getting caught, she felt she had nothing to live for if her books were to get destroyed. Sooner or later, he would become just like her. Montag, later on, fights for books too by standing up for them. All writhing flame on the lawn as Montag shot one continuous pulse of liquid fire on him. There was a hiss, some great mouthful of spittle banging a red-hot stove, bubbling and frothing as if salt had been poured over a monstrous black snail to cause a terrible liquefaction and a boiling over a yellow foam. Montag was so desperate to fight for books, that he ended up killing Beatty. This affected Montag in many ways and even though he felt guilty, he still felt it was the right thing to do.

Montag’s metamorphosis was drastically changed throughout time. He started off a fireman who burned books and followed societies rule. He never questioned anything and never thought twice about what he was told to do. For example, It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed. With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history. Montag used to enjoy burning books and burning knowledge because he didn’t see the significance in reading them. At the end of the book, Montag reads and enjoys books. He starts to rebel, and that lead to Montag doing unusual, and out of the ordinary things. For example, He hobbled around the ruins, seizing at his bad leg when it lagged, talking and whimpering and shouting directions at it cursing it and pleading with it to work for him now when it was vital. After killing Beatty, Montag fled town. All these events are a result of his reading books. He struggles for freedom because he wants to be able to read books freely without the fear of getting caught, but his society doesn’t allow it.

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Fahrenheit 451: Character Analysis. (2019, Apr 10). Retrieved February 8, 2023 , from

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