Fahrenheit 451 is one of them key works that appears on the syllabus in American schools and today still used as a topic of conversation with regards to how prescient it is.
The story of this book is partly about how media is consumed in a dystopian future. This is a future where illegal books are burned and destroyed, where low brow TV shows are embraced . Certain forms of literature and ways of thinking are shortened and simplified to appeal to people with short attention spans. The forms of media that is permitted is essentially things with no heart and no substance.
The main plot of 451 concerns a number of people who have to live in this world. The main protagonist is the character Montag. Montag is a fireman but not as how we would know firemen to be. The firemen cause the fires (burning the books) instead of fighting them. We follow Montag’s journey from being someone responsible for book burnings and censorship to questioning everything and reflecting what he does. We meet his wife who likes the images and shows she sees on TV and overdoses on sleeping pills. We meet Faber who was a former intellectual who has to put up with this world that he’s in.
This world Bradbury has given us is a dystopian future is partly created by ourselves, the people who inhabit it. A world that we created but where we can also change and learn from our mistakes. There are many internal and external threats in this world and what Fahrenheit 451 achieves in doing is make us self aware of the world we are in now and the dangers we could face in. The examples of self imposed censorship we can see today on social media, what we agree is not suitable is entirely dependent of the consumers of that period of time.
While Fahrenheit 451 has all what you expect from dystopian futures, with respect to censorship and the use of technology, the world is not as haunting as George Orwell’s in 1984. In that world there is no hope, the illusion of hope was created by the regime and everybody is looking over their shoulder. In 451, hope is still there, there are people who remember when things were different. The act of rebellion comes when you actually go out there to rebel as opposed to dropping your guard and not having the right thought.