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Fahrenheit 451 & brave new world

Fahrenheit 451 & Brave New World

For more than half a century science fiction writers have thrilled and challenged readers with visions of the future and future worlds. These authors

offered an insight into what they expected man, society, and life to be like at some future time. One such author, Ray Bradbury, utilized this

concept in his work, Fahrenheit 451, a futuristic look at a man and his role in society. Bradbury utilizes the luxuries of life in America today, in

addition to various occupations and technological advances, to show what life could be like if the future takes a drastic turn for the worse. He turns

man's best friend, the dog, against man, changes the role of public servants and changes the value of a person. Aldous Huxley also uses the

concept of society out of control in his science fiction novel Brave New World. Written late in his career, Brave New World also deals with man

in a changed society. Huxley asks his readers to look at the role of science and literature in the future world, scared that it may be rendered useless

and discarded. Unlike Bradbury, Huxley includes in his book a group of people unaffected by the changes in society, a group that still has religious

beliefs and marriage, things no longer part of the changed society, to compare and contrast today's culture with his proposed futuristic culture. But

one theme that both Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451 use in common is the theme of individual discovery by refusing to accept a passive

approach to life, and refusing to conform. In addition, the refusal of various methods of escape from reality is shown to be a path to discovery. In

Brave New World, the main characters of Bernard Marx and the "Savage" boy John both come to realize the faults with their own cultures. In

Fahrenheit 451 Guy Montag begins to discover that things could be better in his society but, sue to some uncontrollable events, his discover

happens much faster than it would have. He is forced out on his own, away from society, to live with others like himself who think differently that

the society does. Marx, from the civilized culture, seriously questions the lack of history that his society has. He also wonders as to the lack of

books, banned because they were old and did not encourage the new culture. By visiting a reservation, home of an "uncivilized" culture of savages,

he is able to see first hand something of what life and society use to be like. Afterwards he returns and attempts to incorporate some of what he

saw into his work as an advertising agent. As a result with this contrast with the other culture, Marx discovers more about himself as well. He is

able to see more clearly the things that had always set him on edge: the promiscuity, the domination of the government and the lifelessness in which

he lived. (Allen) John, often referred to as "the Savage" because he was able to leave the reservation with Marx to go to London to live with him,

also has a hard time adjusting to the drastic changes. The son of two members of the modern society but born and raised on the reservation, John

learned from his mother the values and the customs of the "civilized" world while living in a culture that had much different values and practices.

Though his mother talked of the promiscuity that she had practiced before she was left on the reservation (she was accidentally left there while on

vacation, much as Marx was) and did still practice it, John was raised, thanks to the people around him, with the belief that these actions were

wrong. Seeing his mother act in a manner that obviously reflected different values greatly affected and hurt John, especially when he returned with

Marx to London. John loved his mother, but he, a hybrid of the two cultures, was stuck in the middle. (May) These concepts, human reaction to

changes in their culture and questioning of these changes, are evident throughout the book. Huxley's characters either conform to society's

demands for uniformity or rebel and begin a process of discovery; there are no people in the middle. By doing so, Huxley makes his own views of

man and society evident. He shows that those who conform to the "brave new world" become less human, but those who actively question the

new values of society discover truth about the society, about themselves, and about people in general. An example of this is Huxley's views of

drugs as an escape. The conforming members of society used widely a drug called soma, which induces hallucinations and escapes from the

conscious world for two to eight hour periods. Those very few who didn't, John included, mainly did not because they thought the drug either

unclean or an easy escape, one not needed in a society aiming at making life very simple. By refusing to "go along" in this escape from reality, John

is ultimately able to break from society and define his own destiny. In Fahrenheit 451 Guy Montag, the main character, is able to see through the

government and the official policies of his society. He does so by gradually beginning to question certain aspect of society which most simply

accept as fact. Montag's job as a fireman serves as a setting to show how many people passively accept the absurdity of their society. Instead of

rushing to put out fires, as firemen today do, Montag rushes to start fires, burning the books and homes of people reported to have books. This

was considered by most people to be a respectable profession. But on different occasions Montag took a book out of burning homes and would

from time to time read them. From this, he begins to to question the values of his society. Montag's marriage also serves a setting to contrast

passive acceptance versus questioning of society's values. His marriage is not the happy kind that couples today experience but more like a

coexistence. He and his wife live together and he supports her, though he apparently neither loves her a great deal or expects her to love him. This

relationship and living arrangement, with its lack of love, is Bradbury's way of showing what life could be like if people not only stop

communicating but stop thinking and choosing, thus loosing control over their lives. Montag and his wife continue to live together though people in

that situation today would not hesitate to terminate such a relationship. Montag's wife apparently accepts this relationship because it is normal for

the society in which she lives. (Wolfheim) Like Brave New World_characters escaping from reality through the use of soma, Montag's wife, and

many other characters, escape through watching a sophisticated form of television. This television system covers three of the walls of the Montag's

TV room (they can't afford to buy the screen to cover the fourth wall), has a control unit that allows the watchers to interact with the characters on

the program and another unit that inserts Mrs. Montag's name into specific places, thus creating the image they the characters are actually

conversing with them. Montag's wife, having only a few friends and ones she rarely sees, spends much of her day in this room, watching a program

called "The Family", a government sponsored program that shows the viewers what life at home should be like. The problem with this is that

Montag's wife takes the program as a substitute for reality. She is almost addicted to the program, much as people were with soma in Brave New

World. Bradbury uses this television and it's programs as a way of showing the escape he is worried people will look for in the future. Without

actively questioning society's values, he is concerned that people will look for ways to idly spend their time. But like Marx, Montag chooses not to

take part in this addiction. By abstaining, he can see the affects it's use has on the people around him, much as Marx and more importantly John

the Savage saw in their culture. Both authors try to show that with life made easier by strong government control and a lack of personal

involvement people will no longer spend their time thinking, questioning or developing their own ideas. Through these various diversions from

normal behavior in society, Marx, John the Savage and Guy Montag are able to see the truths behind the societies they live in and are able to learn

about themselves. And though their discoveries meant that their lives would be changed forever, the authors succeeded in showing that the key to

humanity lies in thinking and questioning. These men found themselves through their own discoveries, much as Bradbury and Huxley hope others

will do. --- Works Cited Allen, Walter The Modern Novel. Dutton, 1964 May, Keith M. Aldous Huxley. Paul Elek Books Ltd., 1972 Wolfheim,

Donald The Universe Makers. Harper and Row, 1971

Word Count: 1501

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