In Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury shows 6 stages of the Hero’s Journey using Guy Montag, the protagonist, as he journeys to find the meaning behind books, to conquer death and be reborn into a new society, like the hero in the hero’s journey. Montag revealed his society’s secrets and flaws while also discovering the importance of books. Relating Fahrenheit 451 to the 17 stages of the Hero’s Journey, helps show readers the stages, physically and emotionally, that the hero goes through to complete their journey.
Although Montag represents the hero in this story, Clarisse plays a very important role as well. Clarisse is responsible for Montag’s change in his ways of thinking. She brings an innocent perspective of their society to change the way Montag thinks. She questioned him and made him actually think instead of just going through the daily actions in his life. He then realized that were inconsistencies in the way that his society went about life and their beliefs. “Do you mind if I ask? How long have you worked at being a fireman?” “Since I was twenty, ten years ago.” “Do you ever read any of the books you bum?” He laughed. “That’s against the law!” They walked still further, and the girl said, “Is it true that long-ago firemen put fires out instead of going to start them?” “No. Houses. have always been fireproof, take my word for it.” “Strange. I heard once that a long time ago houses used to burn by accident and they needed firemen to stop the flames.” (Bradbury 3) Clarisse represents what Montag is trying to realize and become. She shows him the beauty of books and the importance of realizing the discrepancies in their society. Montag did not even know Clarisse when she approached him, so naturally he denied all of her suspicions. Montag said he loved Mildred and he was very happy with his daily life which was not true in any way. When she asked him if he read any of the books he burned, he formed so many questions about the way society did things. “What a shame,” she said. “You’re not in love with anyone.” “Yes, I am!” “It doesn’t show.” “I am very much in love!” He tried to conjure up a face to fit the words, but there was no face. “I am! (Bradbury 10) He stopped walking, “You are an odd one,” he said, looking at her. “Haven’t you any respect? (Bradbury 3) Montag was used to being molded to fit their dystopian society’s views on life. He realized that everyone looked at certain aspects with one perspective. He was being challenged to question what he has known and been taught since he was young.
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Clarisse was not the only thing that helped Montag question his society. In addition to Clarisse, there were many events that took place that helped him to change his perspective about the world. Montag’s experiences and interactions really helped to shape Montag’s character which we the end result of at the end of the book. One day, an alarm was put in, so Montag and his fire squad headed out to the house to set a fire. The lady who owned the books, loved them so much, that she committed suicide with them. She would rather die with her books, so she set fire to the house and herself. This really opened Montag’s eyes. He then wondered why someone would die for books and why it was so important. Eventually, Montag realizes that books are not offensive, and he wants to understand them. Here, he crosses the first threshold and starts to perceive books in a different way. Beatty flicked his fingers to spark the kerosene. He was too late. Montag gasped. The woman on the porch reached out with contempt for them all and struck the kitchen match against the railing. (Bradbury 18)
The woman loved her books so much that she died willing for them. The firemen had already doused the whole house in kerosene, but the woman got ahold of a match. One spark could set the whole house in flames. This is exactly what she did when she struck it against the railing. This experience was the most eye-opening for Montag. As a result, he went to Faber, a retired English professor. Faber and Montag came up with a plan to save books and change society’s view on them. They decided to plant some books in firemen’s houses and then put in an alarm on them. This is related to the belly of the whale because Montag fully separated himself from the hold of society. Montag and Faber plan to completely change society’s perception of books and their message. I think I was blind trying to do things my way, planting books in firemen’s houses and sending in alarms. Montag placed the green bullet in his ear. The old man inserted a similar object in his own ear and moved his lips. (Bradbury 70) In this stage of Montag starting to remove himself from society’s norms, they both completely decide to set their plan in action. This plan also completely shows where Faber and Montag stand on the subject of books. For them, there is no turning back now.
After every obstacle Montag went through, both mentally and physically, he broke through society’s hold on him, and finally started to perceive things in different ways. From a fireman that enjoys his role of burning books and going through life brainwashed, he realizes the emptiness that they possess in their boring society. He then starts to look for meaning and tries to make sense of their senseless and brainwashed society. Montag finally breaks through his last obstacle of resistance. He watches his city get completely destroyed by a bomb and decides that his adventure is still not over. He vows to rebuild a new generation which will be based upon a new set of norms for the society. We’re going to meet a lot of lonely people in the next week and the next month and the next year. And when they ask us what we’re doing, you can say, we’re remembering. That’s where we’ll win out in the long run. And someday we’ll remember so much that we’ll build the biggest goddam steam-shovel in history and dig the biggest grave of all time and shove war in and cover it up. Come on now, we’re going to go build a mirror-factory first and put out nothing but mirrors for the next year and take a long look in them. (Bradbury 75)
Everything that Montag had once know was suddenly obliterated in a blink of an eye. He then decides to not rely on his past and to focus on improving their future. He has learned from his mistakes and learned more knowledge to build a new and improved lifestyle. Montag finally is free from his old society’s norms. He finally realizes why the generation before read books and their importance. Montag also makes a realization that he never really cared about his life before. He was just going through the motions of life without emotions. He blinked once. And in that instant saw the city, instead of the bombs, in the air. They had displaced each other. For another of those impossible instants the city stood, rebuilt and unrecognizable, taller than it had ever hoped or strived to be, taller than man had built it, erected at last in gouts of shattered concrete and sparkles of torn metal into a mural hung like a reversed avalanche, a million colors, a million oddities, a door where a window should be, a top for a bottom, a side for a back, and then the city rolled over and fell down dead. (Bradbury 74) Montag is experiencing a freedom like he has never experienced before. Much like a bird getting ready to take its first flight after learning how to fly. Montag resembles a phoenix who has been reborn for his old past and getting ready to prosper in his present.
Montag represented the Hero’s Journey very well in Fahrenheit 451. There were many aspects that affected Guy Montag in many positive ways. All those factors resulted in the emotional and spiritual growth of Guy Montag. It seemed as though was going through like in a trance. He was awoken when he questioned his society and realized the true importance and value of books. Relating Fahrenheit 451 to the 17 stages of the Hero’s Journey, helps show readers the stages, physically and emotionally, that the hero goes through to complete their journey.
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