A future dystopia is the opposite of a utopia, a utopia is a perfect society and a dystopia is the opposite of a perfect society and fahrenheit 451 is set in the future from when it was written. Aspects of fahrenheit 451 that are dystopian is that technology is used to control the population such as the parlour and seashell, another dystopian feature is the public is constantly being told propaganda about the war. Examples of the government’s control on society are the virtual reality parlour, the seashell, the hound, fireman and Clarisse’s death.
Fahrenheit 451 is a future dystopia themed book. Many themes of the book are based on future dystopia ideas, one idea is that they are controlled by technology. Most citizens in the book have a parlor at their house. The parlors are an interactive virtual reality wall in your house. With the parlor you can watch TV that the government chose to broadcast and talk to your family. The parlors are used for entertainment and they are used to distract the population from the real world problems that are going on all around them, such as the war which is going on and the constant fighter jets that fly over the city. “Will you turn the parlour off?” he asked. “That’s my family.” “Will you turn it off for a sick man?” “I’ll turn it down.” “She went out of the room and did nothing to the parlour and came back. ” This is a quote when Montag is sick and at home, he is asking his wife if she could turn the parlour off. This shows that the public have become addicted to the parlour. Montag’s wife found her parlour more important than Montag’s health. This shows that the public can’t live without their parlours they are addicted to them which is why it is a form of control by the government. The government censors what is broadcasted on the parlours and lets the public hear what they want them to hear while keeping the public inside all day watching their parlour and not paying any attention the things going on outside. The public don’t question the war or see it as an issue. They just all know from the news on the parlour and seashell it will be over soon and they will be the winners.
Another form of technology used by the government to control the public was the seashell, the seashell was a radio earpiece device where you can listen to the radio news. These devices had a large influence on the public and were controlled by the government. The government used these seashells to plant false information about the war in the minds of the citizens. This left the citizens believing that the war would be over soon and they would win. The citizens believed this information about the war right up until the city they lived in was destroyed. This shows that the citizens were being fed selective information making them believe their country would be the winning side. Regular information about the war was played over the seashells about the war, when Montag was at the train station he heard this playing over his seashell, “We have mobilized a million men. Quick victory is ours if the war comes”. This information spread by the government was used to keep the public feeling safe about the war and not having a reason to be fearful. This worked because none of the characters met in the book had any major concern about the war and the jets flying over the city all the time. Over time the society in the book Fahrenheit 451 has been numbed by this useless information the media provides to the point where they accept anything that they get told. They have become passive so the don’t criticize any of the information they are feed they are just like mindless sheep following the shepherd.
The hound is a mechanical dog controlled by the government in Fahrenheit 451. It is used as a way of enforcing the laws and as a weapon of fear. “Gripped in gentling paws while a four-inch hollow steel needle plunged down from the proboscis of the Hound to inject massive jolts of morphine or procaine.” The hound is another technology that is used as a form of control by the government, it keeps the public fearful and scared of the hound, making most people not even think about stepping out of line. But if people break any of the laws the hound is used as a physical force to punish the criminal. The hound is used as an enforcer of the laws with a highly advanced sense of smell for tracking down the target. The hound is an example of the government taking advantage of technology to rule the population by fear. This also leads to the fact that the public are afraid to criticize and oppose the government, because they are ruled by people who have advanced technology keeping them in place.
Traditionally fireman have the job of putting out fires as an emergency service. In Fahrenheit 451’s dystopia the job of a fireman is to start fires and burn books. The firemen are a form of control by the government used to enforce the law of no books. In Fahrenheit 451 books are illegal and firemen are dispatched to go to people’s houses who have books and set their house on fire. The public never challenged this idea of fireman burning people’s houses, but Clarisse did. She said to Montag, “Is it true that long ago firemen put fires out instead of going to start them?” Clarisse was the only person to question this at the start of the book she was different to everyone else because she didn’t believe everything said by the government like everyone else and that’s why she ended up being killed very early on in the book. The government made books illegal because they are at war and don’t want any influence from other countries in their country, specifically British influence. Firemen are also a weapon of fear because most people would be too afraid to keep books stashed away with the risk of the firemen finding out and burning their house. The hound also works alongside the firemen making them more threatening with the hounds sense of smell that is near perfect at catching criminals. The firemen play an important role in the book because Montag starts off as a normal fireman not questioning any of the rules but then he begins to realize that he shouldn’t be burning books, after he sees what happens to people when they get their books it changed his opinion on being a fireman.
Clarisse is a teenager that lives in the neighbourhood near Montag, sometimes in the book she talks to Montag as he walks home and to work. She is a character that is different to most others in the book because she doesn’t believe everything the government is saying. She likes to question things and criticize things which is something most people in the public are to afraid or don’t know how to do. When Beatty is talking to Montag he says, “Clarisse was a time bomb. Her family had been feeding her subconscious and she kept asking questions.” This shows that people like Beatty who work for the government don’t like people like Clarisse who challenge the way things are and question the rules of society, Beatty also tells Montag that, “The poor girl’s better off dead. Yes, dead. Luckily, queer ones like her don’t happen, often. We know how to nip most of them in the bud, early.” Beatty saying this shows how the government dispose of people who they don’t like and how he had something to do with Clarisse’s death as he knew a lot about it. Clarisse was an example of what happens to people who step out of line and don’t believe in the rules of the society.
Fahrenheit 451 is a future dystopian themed book with a focus on government control and complete influence over society. With the only influence inflicted on the public being the government. The aspects of government control on society throughout the book is the parlours distracting the public from the war doing on and making them addicted to the virtual reality, the seashells spreading false hope and information about the ongoing war. The hound as a physical enforcer of society’s rules and a weapon of fear. The firemen are a form of censorship from overseas influence leaving the government with the only influence. And the death of Clarisse is an example of what happens to those who don’t agree with the government’s rules and begin to question the rules. Fahrenheit 451 is a way Ray Bradbury gives a warning to society that if society passively lets the government censor what they want people will begin to be passive and lose the ability to question things, which is what happened to society in fahrenheit 451.