Theme Of Control In Fahrenheit 451


Imagine your ideal day. You can do anything you want regardless of how much money you have. Now imagine that somebody you don’t know says you need to do what they want. This issue is exactly what happens to the main character, Guy Montag, in the book Fahrenheit 451. Ray Bradbury’s book, Fahrenheit 451, follows a world in which society’s technology obsessed, and it’s justified to burn books to support order. Montag throughout the book, slowly begins to learn about the untold dangers of this system. Instead of getting freedom to choose how you spend your time, you would be required to follow strict laws that dictate whether you’re allowed to do certain tasks. Throughout the book, Montag gradually comes to terms with the unjustified control of society's beliefs and rebels against it. Control is an important theme in Fahrenheit 451 because it shows how society influenced and limited their freedoms.

In the beginning of section 1 of Fahrenheit 451, Montag loves his job and considered an important part of society, however his opinion gradually begins to change due to society’s oppressive control. He then comes to terms with the fact he is nothing but society’s puppet. One way control presents itself is through punishing those who disobey the rules harshly. One example of this is when Clarisse mentions her uncle was once punished for driving under the speed limit and thrown in jail. Another instance of this is how society’s orders are maintained through the firefighter system. People regard firemen as a method of protection or fear the power they have over them.  The proof of this is on page 5 where it says, ``’ ‘You know, I’m not afraid of you at all.’ He was surprised. ‘Why should you be?’ ‘So many people are. Afraid of firemen, I mean. But you’re just a man, after all…’ ``’ This acknowledges how Clarisse knows that they hold power over society, but they are just people acting on orders.  In addition, this system also prevents individuals from asking questions. People live their lives without asking questions about why things are the way they are. Clarisse is who gives Montag the courage to ask questions and liberates him from following orders impulsively.

After Clarisse’s disappearance, Montag enters part 2 feeling a sense of loss and begins to seek answers about how society became this way. He eventually gets information out of Beatty about books.  In this part, control is what influences people. Once technology became more popular, humans became more impatient and as a result books faded out of public view. After this, society needed a new way to entertain people. Furthermore, technology has become the primary source of entertainment. Mankind presents control by influencing the public using technology. Another occurrence of this is how people higher up in the world have more information and control over people. Evidence of this is on page 51 when Beatty says (referring to firemen), ``’ ‘They only need understanding, to know how the wheels run. Need to know the history of our profession. (on lines 11-12) Only fire chiefs remember it now.``’ This confirms Beatty holds seniority over Montag and because of this, knows more of society and how it became this way. Another item showing control in this part is how books became banned. Beatty, during the same conversation during this part of the book, tries to prove the system works. He says that books weren’t banned by the government, but rather the people. What he means by this is that people dissented excessively over books, and fretted over the messages they preached.  To adapt to the distrust of books, society encouraged people to burn their books. The community encouraged this change to support control.  Evidently, this suggests that the last way control is shown is how books were banned because they caused people to ask questions.

By section 3, Montag has refused to conform to these ridiculous rules, and this causes another issue relating to control in the world of Fahrenheit 451. This causes problems for him immediately. After deciding to act on this by burning Beatty alive, he becomes a wanted criminal. But this raises the question, why does he become a criminal? It wasn’t just for burning a man alive. It was because he refused to stand idly by society's rules.  Moreover, this shows that societal control is so serious that if you refuse to conform, you’ll be punished. It is showcased on page 117 where it says, ``’ Police Alert. Wanted: Fugitive in city. Has committed murder and crimes against the State. Name: Guy Montag. Occupation: Fireman. Last seen...``’ This raises the question, what would be important enough to try to kill Montag over? If civilization is so perfect, why try to kill him over reading a few books? The answer is because society’s influence is based on how people act, feel, and enjoy life. If people enjoy reading books again, this may cause them to ask people to become interested in why the firefighter system still exists.  The last example of control is how people are expected to blindly follow the nation's orders on a whim. People are encouraged to stay uninvolved and unfocused on major events. The population also isn’t allowed to question the system. Consequently, this blind following shows how the world’s control is so fragile, it needs to be secured by the public’s complete trust in the system. Unquestionably, this evidence shows that those who question the system, like Montag, are punished to maintain order.

To sum up, control is an important theme in the book because it determines an individual's freedoms, and views. However, one question remains, why does this matter today? The answer is simple; because it determines how we live, our values, and traditions. Although Fahrenheit 451 was written in the 1950s, it still has true messages in today's society. We do in fact predominantly rely on technology instead of books. Yet there is one key difference; we didn’t disregard books as outdated information because even though people may disagree with others’ opinions, we believe it is better to give people a way to form those opinions instead of keeping them in the dark. In summary, control is an important theme because it determines the way society functions.

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