Fahrenheit 451 Dystopia Quotes: Examples & Analysis

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  • 0:04 Inhumane Government Treatment
  • 0:48 The Beginning of Censorship
  • 1:56 The End of Newspapers
  • 2:40 The Circus
  • 3:18 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In 'Fahrenheit 451' by Ray Bradbury, the protagonist, Montag, lives in a dystopian society where literature has been banned. What exactly is a dystopian society?

Inhumane Government Treatment

If a government official walked into your home and burned it to the ground, how would you react? In the dystopian society of Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, those are the consequences for having books in your home. Dystopian is a word used to describe an imaginary society that is broadly characterized as being frightening or miserable - the polar opposite of the term 'utopian.' More specifically to this novel, it's a society where the government controls its citizens in ways that we would consider inhumane.

When Montag comments on the man who was institutionalized for reacting to the destruction on his property, Captain Beatty responds, 'Any man's insane who thinks he can fool the Government and us.' Let's take a closer look at dystopia in this novel by looking at some more quotes from the characters.

The Beginning of Censorship

As Captain Beatty explains, the government didn't have to do much to start with. People stopped reading books on their own. Once people got a taste of movies and television, they realized that they could take a break from thinking. Soon, it became more than a break. Not thinking has become a way of life. 'There you have it, Montag. It didn't come from the Government down. There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship, to start with, no! Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick, thank God.' Books are too real. People read them, think about them, put them down and ponder them. What fun is that? Replace the conflicting ideas contained in books with meaningless entertainment. What a great way to control the masses!

'If you don't want a man unhappy politically, don't give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. Let him forget there is such a thing as war. If the Government is inefficient, top-heavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it.' Despite the fact that war is looming all around them, the entire community is oblivious because that is the way they want it. They have important things to think about, like getting four walls of television installed in the parlor.

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