Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel written by the American writer Ray Bradbury. The novel shows a future American society where books are banned and “firefighters” burn anything that is discovered. The protagonist, Guy Montag, is a firefighter who, disappointed by his role in censoring literature and undermining knowledge, eventually resigns to protect literary and cultural writings.
Technology has different effects on different people in this society. It’s shows the conflict between freedom of thought and thought control. Mildred and most people who lived in the Fahrenheit 451 city are the same. The technology makes their life more convenient, but also let them get lost in it. Their life becomes numb and lost the original colors. They are influenced by the disadvantages of the technology and unable to change themselves or the society. Their lives seem beautiful on the surface, but they have actually lost their freedom. Their thoughts are controlled like machines. As people say in the novel, “I plunk the children in school nine days out of ten. I put up with them when they come home three days a month; it’s not bad at all. You heave them into the ‘parlor’ and turn the switch. It’s like washing clothes: stuff laundry in and slam the lid…They’d just as soon kick as kiss me. Thank God, I can kick back!” People unexpectedly compare raising children to a chore, with no love or feeling at all.
Captain Beatty has read some books master certain knowledge, he has the ability to think about society and history, but become the opposite of his ability. “It doesn’t think anything we don’t want it to think.” Another animal-like machine, the mechanical hound, is a metaphor for Montag and the rest of his society. Mechanical hounds are programmed to work like a living life, but without original ideas or motives. Similarly, Montague and other members of his society are technically alive, but they don’t experience life in a sophisticated way because they don’t have original ideas; they have also fallen victim to society.
Books, as the product of human culture and wisdom, are the source of knowledge and one of the important symbols of human progress and civilization. But in this special future society, books symbolize a kind of freedom. Just like Montag, Taber, Clarisse, and people who want to know more about books. They live in the same society as most people. But it’s one of the few people who are awake and unaffected by technology. But they are not understood, are madmen in the eyes of others, persecuted and abandoned by society. They refuse to give in to the social phenomena and try to change the society. They have their own freedom of thought and not poisoned by technology.
There is more than one way to burn books. The world is full of people lighting matches. Each tore a page or a paragraph from the book until the day came when the books were emptied and the library was completely closed. If we continue down this path without restraint, all ideas will stagnate and technology will eventually replace humanity. And human beings will eventually be destroyed by their actions. That’s what the author’s worried about. Bradbury’s early life witnessed the golden age of radio, and the transition to the golden age of television began when he began to report stories that eventually led to 451 degrees Fahrenheit. Bradbury sees these forms of media as a threat to reading books, in fact to society, because he believes they can distract attention from important matters. This contempt for mass media and technology, expressed through Mildred and her friends, is an important theme in the book.
Technology can surpass human beings in intelligence, but they will always be cold machines, unlike human beings with emotion and soul, and every person is unique. In our real life and society, social media is a platform, a tool for acquiring and disseminating knowledge,. For now, we are still free. Thoughts are not so seriously under control just like the brainwashed, which in the novel; but many people are addicted to the Internet and ignore their own life and other’s feeling. Only a few people really understand the meaning of technology, they use the advantages of them for innovations, benefit all mankind and society.
Humans, as the top of the food chain, hold the wisdom of transcending other creatures. Science and technology are created by human beings. The future is in our own hands. Only by treating science and technology correctly can make full use of its strengths and avoid its weaknesses and better benefit mankind.