Thesis: In science fiction novel Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury conveys the idea that the suppression of opinion can lead to corruption in society, shown when Guy Montag conflicts with the society and himself.
Montag, the stray of the pack, conflicts with the society by going against the government with his promotion of knowledge/reading and rebelling the federation, to further support the main idea that limiting the freedom of opinion can lead to societal corruption. Faber had met up with Guy Montag and told him that, ‘We do need knowledge. Books are to remind”’ (Bradbury 86). Faber agrees with Guy, acknowledging his unique curiosity and advocacy for the citizens of this dystopian society, furthermore obtaining the right of knowledge for those who cannot discern the reason behind knowledge like Guy does. Faber and Guy are both acknowledging reading, and both understand why society must read; their endorsement of intelligence goes against civilization, whose societal values and beliefs are based on the foundation of limiting reading, to prevent corruption within the society. By utilizing their prohibited curiosity, Guy and Faber both defy society and the one idea it holds, disunifying all of its structure and values. While Guy opposed society by pure thinking, he had also gone against the ‘products’ of society when he, shot one continuous pulse of liquid fire on [Beatty] (Bradbury 119). Guy has just killed Beatty, using this murder as his own unique form of rebelling society and the people that were manipulated for society’s irrational beliefs. By killing Beatty, it was his unintentional form of revolting against the government because Beatty, who’s a fellow fireman, was only a commodity that came out of the affect in society’s attempt to keep an orderly fashion; the murder of firemen, created by the government, inadvertently goes against it which also disunifies the structure of society. Montag, an individual who stands out of the norm for society, conflicts with the environment around him and goes out of what they strive to be, rather, he uses his own methods of revolting to advocate for his own beliefs that others may or may not agree with, which happens to be explicitly prohibited in the society.
In the midst of Montag conflicting with society, he also opposes himself through his doubt and confusion, questioning everything that he has led up to in life, leading to corruption between himself and his thoughts. After having fought with Mildred, Montag realizes that his fate as a fireman was never chosen by him, rather, ‘Was I given a choice? My grandfather and father were firemen. In my sleep, I ran after them’ (Bradbury 49). Montag starts to begin doubting himself and his decisions, including becoming a fireman, conflicting with himself and getting second thoughts. The act of doubting himself leads to his own corruption, which also effects towards the society because his own doubt is a form of knowledge and opinion; everything the society is trying to prevent. Although Montag begins to doubt his abilities, his doubt comes with confusion and questioning when, Montag hesitated. ‘Was-was it always like this? Our work?’ (Bradbury 34). Montag has always had a longing to understand why books weren’t allowed and is not able to understand this longing until getting bewildered by how long the world has continued to disobey books. His confusion right now connects to the constant longing of an explanation towards why knowledge is limited in his society, and only motivates him more to find the true meaning behind books and the reason why they are limited. Montag’s confusion only allows for himself to be corrupted because, yet again, his baffled thoughts are a form of knowledge and information; although he may be confused as to who had allowed for intelligence to fade into darkness, his confusion is the fuel to light the flame within this darkness to galvanize him into realizing the corruption that has already occurred within society.
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