Ray Bradbury’s and George Orwell’s ‘Fahrenheit 451’ and ‘1984’

12.06.2020 in Comparative Essays
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Throughout the twentieth century, numerous contradictory schools of thought have played a central role in shaping humanity. The will and vision to develop a state through sacrifices of individuality is a promise of a bright future. Many authors of numerous novels have used characters, themes, and styles that send a given message that benefits society and educational institutions. This paper focuses on comparing and contrasting the novels, ‘Fahrenheit 451’ by Ray Bradbury and ‘1984’ by George Orwell in various contexts. These books, through the development of their character, create an atmosphere of the seductiveness of ‘utopia’ and fear as the consequences of acting in a non-prescribed manner. The authors use their characters to portray a certain issue of conformity. There are aspects whereby both of the authors canvas their messages regarding certain issues that affect society in general. Orwell’s and Bradbury’s methodology of communicating their views clearly indicates their wit regarding matters of importance in society. These novels express each author’s fear of an unknown future that has been truthful from the time the books were published in the 1950s until now. 

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The two novels share one theme, which is segregation or disaffection, and this is clear through the major characters of each novel. The main characters are namely Winston and Guy Montag, in both the ‘1984’ and ‘Fahrenheit 451’ respectively; they do not quite fit in with the rest of their societies. For instance, Winston ignores society and decides to write a journal article about himself; a move that is strictly odds. Winston forgets that he left the diary open on the table reading “DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER” written everywhere. Winston as a character forgets that he lives in a society that has its guiding principle or norms guided by the “Inner Party,” also known as “Big Brother.” According to Winston, no one should have the opportunity to talk over the issue or the government. On this matter, it is clear that a telescreen constantly monitors everything that the citizens are doing. The members of the society cannot say anything or even oppose the government’s decision. A person may be arrested if he/she purports to differ from the guidelines of “Big Brother”. It is clear that Winston decides to keep his back to the telescreen forgetting that the screen is powered. Winston is uncomfortable with the manner in which “Big Brother” operates; however, he has no mandate of canvassing his views and decides to keep it to himself. Winston is a character that suffers isolation, and the paradox is that the society is also isolated, as a result. Society is isolated in the sense that people are denied the opportunity to talk about fundamental issues in society (Edward 23). 

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Similarly, in the novel titled ‘Fahrenheit 451,’ Guy Montag suffers isolation, as a major character. His profession is a firefighter, but instead of putting out fire, he sets fire on houses that contain books. “While the books went up in sparkling whirls and blew away on a wind turned dark with burning” (Bradbury 4). In Montag’s society, burning books is a practice that stops people from reading and owning books. Guy shares similar feelings as Winston since they are all unsure of numerous issues in society. Everything that the government does prevents people from thinking. Additionally, people drive fast cars without considering the mindless television. This is portrayed when they say, “There are billions of us and that’s too many. Nobody knows anyone” (16). They are comfortable by giving excuses based on social interaction; and yet they are isolated from one another. This is clear when Guy asks his wife, “How did you get so empty? He wondered. Who takes it out of you?” (44). Guy’s wife ignores him and concentrates rather on the television characters that she watches daily. Both authors emphasize the theme of isolation which drivers are technology and fear. 

In both novels, technology plays an essential role in portraying oppression and control of people in the wake of innovation during the publication of the two novels. Both authors use descriptive language and metaphoric personification to present the rise of technology as a concept of fear. Technology is prophesized as a tool that is likely to alter people’s lives in the future. The authors use technology as a tool that will likely control and decide the way people live. 

People forget the beauty of the past and focus on the future prospects that technological advancements bring. In fact, characters struggle with hiding the newly found personality. This is evident in Orwell’s interpretation of the totalitarian state of 1984 as depicted in his novel. The authors of these novels try to ignore the significance of individuals to society by embracing the socially found innovations. Any deviation from the notions that people held before is easily noticeable and almost impossible to hide. These divergences are what Orwell fears because he had experience of the same.

The other theme that both novels share is the theme of destruction of human values. In the novel ‘1984’, society lacks human values. Children undergo training to accuse and report their parents of thought criminal acts. Absolute lies told from the government are viewed as normal, and people fail to realize this order. The constant lies indicates the destruction of human values at all levels. Orwell indicates how a person is likely to go wild when they are given power, and this is the reference to the totalitarian government, “Big Brother.” Similarly, the destruction of human values is evident in ‘Fahrenheit 451’ since teenagers kill one another for fun. According to Bradbury, “I’m afraid of children my own age. They kill each other. Did it always used to be that way?’(30). This indicates that members of society lack emotions and feelings towards each other. People focus more on things on television and ignore their family responsibilities. Communication between human beings is cut short through fictional events on television. As in the case of Mildred, “No matter when he came in, the wall was always talking to Mildred” (44). This is a similar incidence to the things happening to the present world. 

Whereas these novels share many themes and ideologies, the authors come from diverse backgrounds. George Orwell was born in India and later moved to England. He was a good student but never went to college. He became famous because of his political essays, columns, reviews and magazines. He disliked imperialism that he got to know when he was in the Indian Imperial Police in Burma (Harold & Hobby 47). His book was based on Orwell’s belief against numerous aspects of life. 

Conversely, Bradbury was born in Illinois and lived in Los Angeles, and he nurtured his talent in the Carnegie library. By 1942, Bradbury became a full time writer, and he claims that the only science fiction was the ‘Fahrenheit 451.’ This was one of his stories that later became true. He won numerous awards because of his science fictions. Nonetheless, Orwell and Bradbury have some similarities about their backgrounds and their writing styles. This is because both novels have sentences that are long, descriptive, and full of imagery. For instance, ‘Fahrenheit 451’ employs numerous sentences showing imagery “…. His eyes all orange flame with the thought of what came next he flicked the igniter and the house jumped up in a gorging fire that burned the evening sky red and yellow and black” (Bradbury 3). Conversely, the vocabulary that Orwell uses in ‘1984’ is challenging as he invents most of the terminologies in his book. In addition, both books are told in third person omniscient point of view, and both authors have allowed the readers to see through the major character’s mind. 

In conclusion, each of them addresses fundamental and relevant issues, and this makes them literary classics. They display amazing literary styles through the author’s use of certain words. The two books ascertain that technological advancement increases at a fast pace. Both books are relevant since much of the ideas expressed actually initialize in modern society. Both books inspire people on numerous issues such as not letting the government exercise its powers fully as it may negatively affect society. Both ‘Fahrenheit 451’ and ‘1984’ have been and will continue inspiring many people in the coming years. These novel’s authors ascertain that technology plays an essential role in altering the way people lived and how they should live presently. This is evident when one looks at the time of publication of the two novels.

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