Sienna, Meng-Syuan Jiang
Department of English
National Kaohsiung Normal University
Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, is a book that deals with issues complicit with social conformity. It represents a society with reduced social conflict, controlled through limited diversity. Pluralism, incorporates disparate ideas, conflicting views and arguments. To promote harmony, people in Fahrenheit 451 watch the same television programs, listen to seashell radio earpieces, drive fast cars, and interact through three-walled television scripted conversations. Disagreement is absent. It is a society that removes individuality and feelings, creating empty-headed, emotionless citizens. The ban on knowledge and information enables the state to control and limit conflictual ideas. The novel’s totalitarian government burns all books. The firemen in Fahrenheit 451, do not extinguish, but rather start fires, in order to remove all books. I will examine Fahrenheit 451, discussing why freedom of thought and speech are often seen as dangerous societal ingredients. My argument will be that intolerance towards diversity creates a dystopian conformity. This can be examined intertextually, fully referencing examples of book burning and intolerance throughout the 20th-century, to date. Western political and educational discourse places diversity and inclusivity at its center, yet the dystopian has always found ways of re-surfacing.
Keywords: Fahrenheit 451, book-burning, totalitarianism, conformism, censorship, freedom, intolerance, individuality