Mildred Montag in Fahrenheit 451: Character Analysis & Quotes

Mildred Montag in Fahrenheit 451: Character Analysis & Quotes
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  • 0:03 Meet Mildred Montag
  • 1:37 Getting to Know Mildred
  • 2:50 Character Analysis
  • 4:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christina Boggs

Chrissy has taught secondary English and history and writes online curriculum. She has an M.S.Ed. in Social Studies Education.

While 'Fahrenheit 451' focuses on main character Guy Montag, his wife Mildred is an important part of the novel. This lesson explores Mildred's role and character in the novel through analysis and quotes.

Meet Mildred Montag

'Her face was like a snow-covered island upon which rain might fall, but it left no rain; over which clouds might pass their moving shadows, but she felt no shadow. There was only the singing of the thimble-wasps in her tamped-shut ears, and her eyes all glass, and breath going in and out, softly, faintly, in and out of her nostrils, and her not caring whether it came or went, went or came.' After reading or hearing this passage above, what's your first impression of Mildred Montag? Maybe she seems like a really good sleeper, completely checked out from the world around her. Perhaps you think she's very peaceful, just breathing softly in bed. For Guy Montag, observing his wife in this moment is truly terrifying.

The reader's first encounter with Mildred Montag isn't a pleasant one. Guy Montag, a fireman, comes home from a long night of burning books to find his wife has overdosed on sleeping pills and is seemingly dead to the world around her. Montag calls for emergency services, and two men show up with a ghastly machine. Like an immense electrical snake, the machine sucks poison from Mildred's body then fills her up with someone else's blood. Sounds pretty horrifying, right? At the breakfast table the next morning, Mildred's ears stay plugged with her 'Seashell ear thimbles' (Ray Bradbury's version of ear buds or headphones) as she reads her husband's lips. She has no interest in unplugging to talk to Guy, and she has no recollection of the overdose or the 'snake' that pumped her stomach, saying: 'Oh, I wouldn't do that...I wouldn't do a thing like that. Why would I do a thing like that?'

Getting to Know Mildred

As the reader delves further into Guy Montag's personal life, it becomes apparent that his marriage is deeply flawed. Mildred is obsessed with their parlor. Three of the four walls are made up of giant television screens. She participates in the television programs and refers to characters as 'the family.' Mildred escapes from the real world around her into an imaginary world filled with constant noise, bright colors, and fictional characters. Mildred's life is so dominated by the television that it becomes a point of obsession. 'It's really fun. It'll be even more fun when we can afford to have the fourth wall installed. 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.'

When Guy tells her this would amount to a third of his pay for the entire year, she responds with complete self-interest: 'It's only two thousand dollars...And I should think you'd consider me sometimes. If we had a fourth wall, why it'd be just like this room wasn't ours at all, but all kinds of exotic people's rooms.' Mildred is consumed by her own life and her own interests. When her husband reveals that he's been secretly hoarding books, she gets inadvertently sucked into his crime. Ultimately, Mildred turns her husband in to the authorities then abandons him.

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