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This essay will analyze the portrayal of technology in Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.” It will discuss how the novel presents technology as a tool for censorship and social control, and its implications for individual freedom and society. PapersOwl offers a variety of free essay examples on the topic of Fahrenheit 451.
The evolution of technology has changed tremendously throughout the years. With this evolution comes consequences. Many books and stories speak about the topic of technology and how it could change the way people live and act. One author that explains the impact of technology is Ray Bradbury with the short story “The Pedestrian” and the book Fahrenheit 451. In the short story “Pedestrian” the protagonist Mr. Leonard Mead struggles with fitting in with society’s social norms because of society’s obsession with technology. Likewise, the protagonist in Fahrenheit 451, Guy Montag is a man who lives in a society that is overruled by technology. Through how both protagonists characterize those around them, Bradbury expresses the thematic message of how negatively affected people are by technology such as becoming distant from the world/people, losing themselves, and becoming blind to what’s going on in their society.
When people are so preoccupied with the technology in front of them they tend to stop caring about one another and there is less socializing going on between people. In both “The Pedestrian” and Fahrenheit 451, both Mr. Leonard Mead and Guy Montag experience the struggles of technology taking over their society. Mr.Meads society is filled with lifeless people who are being controlled by technology. In ‘The Pedestrian,’ protagonist, Leonard Mead, lives in a society that is so wrapped up in their devices they don’t take time to go outside or do something that isn’t related to sitting in front of a screen. For example, while Mr.Mead was walking he came to a realization that after years of taking this constant walk around the neighborhood he never once saw someone walking as well since people don’t take time out of their days to walk or spend time with others, they rather focus their attention on technology.
How it works
Bradbury narrates ‘He stumbled over a particularly uneven section of sidewalk. The cement was vanishing under flowers and grass. In the ten years of walking by day or night, for thousands of miles, he had never met another person walking, in all that time”(Bradbury 2). Bradbury uses imagery to help the reader to imagine and understand what the sidewalk is looking like which can show the lack of maintenance. The words “The cement was vanishing under flowers and grass” can show how rejected and abandoned his town actually is, no one cares to take care of the sidewalk. Nobody is outside anymore to take care of it, everyone is too focused on technology. Mr.Mead has taken walks around his neighborhood for the past ten years. However, he has not seen one person outside during those times. Similar to Mr.Mead’s experience, Montag has someone in his life who is distant from him because of technology.
For instance, Montag’s wife, Mildred is so obsessed with technology that she considers the TVs on the wall family. In their house, they have three TV’s already on the wall. However, Mildred believes that they should fill the fourth and last wall with another TV. This can result in her being more distant to Montag. Mildred tells Montag “‘How long you figure before we save up and get the fourth wall torn out and a fourth wall-TV put in? It’s only two thousand dollars.’ ‘That’s one-third of my yearly pay’ Montag states ‘Its only two thousand dollars,’ she replied. ‘And I think you’d consider me sometimes. If we had a fourth wall, why’d it’d be just like this room wasnt ours at all, but all kinds of exotic people’s rooms. We could do without a few things’” (Bradbury 18).
Even though Mildred has three TVs on the walls already and she knows Montag struggles to pay for it she still wants another. The words “We could do without a few things” shows how she is obsessed with technology that she is willing to cut out on things that she may need to buy the fourth TV. She shows no empathy for Montag and the fact that it is one- third of his paycheck. If she gets another TV she will be completely absorbed in the world of technology. Also with another wall TV, she and Montag will possibly talk less than before, and their connection will worsen.
Not only does technology make people clueless to the world and the people around them, but it also doesn’t give themselves time to focus on themselves. Therefore, technology can change someone as a person. Mr.Mead compares the people sitting in front of the TV to people of the dead because they are so focused on technology that they seem to be lifeless and emotionless. To showcase the impact technology has on people, Bradbury narrates “The tombs, ill-lit by television light, where the people sat like the dead”(3). Bradbury uses a descriptive writing style. The “tombs” can refer to the houses these people are living in which is only being lit up by the TVs. The “dead” do nothing but just watch whatever is being displayed on the screen.
Bradbury uses metaphors to compare the people of society to the dead which shows that they’re empty and lifeless, and they show no emotion whatsoever. They’re so mesmerized by whatever they’re watching to the point where they are compared to “dead” people. Secondly, in Montag’s society, most people generally have lost themselves because of technology as well. For instance, Mildred has tried to commit suicide by overdosing since she wasn’t happy. Bradbury narrates Montag tells Mildred “‘You took all the pills in your bottle last night’ Oh, I wouldn’t do that,’ she said surprised. ‘The bottle was empty’ Montag replied. ‘I wouldn’t do a thing ?’ she said” (Bradbury 10). Mildred doesn’t want to face reality, she doesn’t accept her true emotions. Mildred tries to hide them by leaving acting as if they never happened and going on with her regular day. By continuing to listen to her seashells and watching her programs.
When one uses most of their time using technology they start to not see what is going on in the world around. They focus on technology so much that they don’t pay attention to what is happening. Both societies have been so focused on technology that they have no idea how the world is deteriorating around them.While Mr.Mead was taking a walk he was stopped by a police car. That was very unusual in their society because just like every other “normal” person, Mr.Mead would be in his house watching television or playing a video game instead of being outside but since he wasn’t allowing technology to control his life, he was being considered crazy and was being taken to a Psychiatric Center. Bradbury narrates a conversation between the car and Mr.Mead, “There was a sigh, a pop. The back door of the police car sprang wide. “‘Get in’ the car stated. ‘Wait a minute I haven’t done anything’ Mr.Mead responds. ‘Get in’ ‘I protest!’ ‘Mr.Mead.”’(3).
Technology has taken over Mr.Mead’s society tremendously. To the point where someone can get in trouble for simply taking a walk. While Mr.Mead was being taken to jail, his neighbors were to busy staring at a TV screen. They all became so imperceptive that they don’t care to know or worry about what is happening outside. Bradbury uses irony because it is ironic that someone who is just walking is getting arrested. Similar to what is happening in Mr.Meads society, Montag’s society is too obsessed and focused on technology that they don’t notice what is going on in front of them. In Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury vaguely speaks about the details of the ongoing war that is occurring in Montag’s society. That being because it depicts the fake life everyone is living.
Everyone is so occupied with all the materialistic things that they don’t notice the war happening above them. Montag asks Mildred ‘How the hell did those bombers get up there every single second of our lives! Why doesn’t someone want to talk about it! We’ve started and won two atomic wars since 2022! Is it because we’re having so much fun at home we’ve forgotten the world?’(Bradbury 69). People have been brainwashed by the useless things in life such as the TV’s or the seashells that go in their ears. No one cares about what is actually happening outside even though it can possibly put their lives in danger or others. They are too concerned about the pointless things that make their lives fun that they don’t care about the horrible things that are happening outside. Both societies are collapsing because of the effect technology is having on people.
Overall, through how the protagonist characterizes those around them, Bradbury expresses how negatively affected people are by technology. Such as becoming distant from the world/people, losing themselves, and becoming blind to what’s going on in their society. Technology today is advancing in many different ways, all these advancements can lead to a failing society.
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