Free Research Paper About Use Of Symbolism In Fahrenheit 451

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Literature, Novel, Books, Society, Education, Fahrenheit, Fahrenheit 451, Media

Pages: 8

Words: 2200

Published: 2020/10/01


Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel showing the future of the America, where most of the people don’t like literature. Society has been adopted to burn the books as there are some other forms of entertainment such as television and radio. People keep on working with firemen to burn books found anywhere. Author has used many symbols in the novel. Most important symbols among them are fire, blood, hearth, salamander, sieve, sand, and phoenix. Each symbol is related to the human society in one way or the other. Not only symbols, but many scenarios in different parts of novel also symbolize different things. Characters are also showing some form of groups in the society representing particular thinking that can be different from the remaining society or can be same. Ray Bradbury’s work this work is among his best works that need special attention. This paper describes most of these symbols along with the particular scenarios representing different situations.


Fahrenheit 451 is a novel written by Ray Bradbury and is considered among his best works. It was published by Ballantine Books in the year 1953. This novel is set in an unspecified city presenting the unspecified frightening future of the American society, where books are banned and “firemen” have the duty to burn any books found in the society. 451°F is that temperature at which books and papers can be burnt (Williams 357). In the novel, society has the highest desire of achieving the happiness, and even a little piece of information is good but ideas and knowledge are bad that is why society is in the habit of burning books. Burning of books is symbolizing the destruction of knowledge as well the freedom of thoughts (Altuntaş 34). This novel is also dealing with the increasing tension in the militarized society of the 1950s era after the drop of Atomic bomb as well as the rise of containment (Fox 18).
In the novel, Bradbury connotes two factors behind the burning of books by the society. One is the general lack of interest in books, and the other is the envious nature of people towards books in the society. In the first factor, competing entertainment forms such as radio and television contribute towards the lack of interest towards books. In the second factor, people don’t like to have an inferiority complex of reading less than others resulting in hostile nature towards books.

Summary of the novel

Guy Montag is the main character in the novel, who is a book-burning fireman (Zipes 14). He is going through different phases of life. His wife likes to spend the time with her television, which is considered as “family”, showing that Montag has to work hard in order to afford the family life. On the other hand, their next-door neighbor Clarisse, who is a young girl, is different from them in that she is delighted by the ideas in books, and likes to see the world with those ideas rather than looking at television all the time. Clarisse mysteriously disappears in the novel, and Montag takes the charge of her books and begins hiding them in his home. Finally, wife looks at his suspicious work, and he is asked to burn the books. In order to keep the work, Montag joins an outlaw group of scholars, who are memorizing the contents of books and keeping them in their mind with a hope of society’s return to the wisdom of literature.

Work of different characters in the novel

Different characters in the novel are representing different groups of people having different set of thoughts. Montag, Captain Beatty (Montag’s boss), and Faber (former English professor) are struggling in the novel to resolve the tension that is developing as a result of imbalance between the knowledge and ignorance. Faber considers himself as water and Montag as fire showing that their combination could result in the production of wine referencing to the miracle of Canaa, where water was transformed into wine by Christ. Montag’s wife is Mildred "Millie" Montag, who is addicted to pills and keeps on watching dramas. Firemen have the duty to destroy knowledge by book burning (Fahrenheit, and spread ignorance, so that the sameness can be promoted in the population. Montag realizes that this approach is not good and damaging the society. He realizes this after meeting with Clarisse, Faber, and the old woman. Clarisse McClellan is representing the individual and free thinking of people. Her mysterious disappearance symbolizes that sometimes people, who have a good level of knowledge, come in our life for a short time to change our thinking. Granger is the leader of a scholarly group, who is trying to keep the contents of books in their mind.
Interestingly, the name of Montag is itself symbolizing the revival of work in a new energetic manner. The word “Montag” is German for “Monday” (Hendrix, Slusser, and Rabkin 102) that is the start of a new week of work. Montag has two coworkers namely “Black” and “Stoneman”, and these names are also symbolizing the dark aspect of the society. “Granger” has the concept of farmer (Nordin 214), who works hard to grow nature, i.e. symbolizing the work for knowledge in the novel.

Symbols used in Fahrenheit 451

Animal and Natural sceneries. Animals such as salamanders and other natural sceneries are present throughout the novel. Nature is symbolizing the presence of innocence and trust starting with Clarisse’s love for nature. She asks Montag to taste the rain (Nick 2) that is symbolizing the concept of taking the trust of knowledge. Most of the animal imagery in the novel is ironic. It is showing that though people have a deep love for technology but they still like to name their objects and things according to the animals such as the Mechanical Hound, Seashell ear thimbles, and the Electric-Eyed Snake machine.
Blood. Blood is found throughout the novel. It is representing the repressed soul and/or essential nature of human being. Montag usually “feels” the movement and circulation of most revolutionary thoughts in his blood. On the other hand, Mildred, whose nature is to remain busy in the television and related modern day entertainment devices, remains unaltered upon replacement of her poisoned blood with the fresh blood with the help of Electric-Eyed Snake machine. The symbol of blood is closely associated to the Snake machine. It is also showing the inner-self. The electronic device has been used in the novel to show the corrupted nature of Mildred as well as her delusions, self-hatred and misery.
Mass Media. Most of the novel is dealing with the presence of mass media at almost every place in the future of America. This mass media is full of imagery and messages. People have televisions on their entire walls and see dramas on these large televisions. In dramas, people or viewer’s name is used, and they are able to interact with fictional relationships (Moore 20) referred to as “the family” or “the relatives.” Scenes in dramas change quickly to increase the sense of attraction towards media. Outside of their rooms, people start spending their time with “Seashell ear thimbles”, which are a kind of radio receivers giving news and music to the people to move them out of the real world. Bradbury symbolizes the mass media as a kind of veil that is hiding real experiences of life from people and interfering with their ability to think deeply about the life and issues of the society. However, Bradbury has also shown that media can help us in a positive manner, as told by Faber, “It isn't books you need, it's some of the things that once were in books The same infinite detail and awareness could be projected through the radios and televisors, but are not.” (Bradbury 78).
Fire. Fire is considered as an interesting part of the novel symbolizing many different things as, for example, death, violence, jealousy, disappear, ignorance, and fear. In case of firemen, who have the helmet with the number “451”, fire is symbolizing the destruction. On the other hand, when Clarisse asks Montag for candle-light, i.e. controlled use of fire, it symbolizes the beginning of knowledge and self-awareness. Fire also shows the concept of warmth (Martinez n.p).
Hearth. Hearth usually shows “warmth” but in this novel it is ironically symbolizing fire. It is a fireplace, and is representing the family life or home. Montag found that he is also harmed by the society’s tradition of burning of books, and this has been shown by the dependence of his wife on TV and sleeping pills.
Salamander. Salamander is also an ironic symbol in the novel. Salamanders are related to a myth that they have the ability to live in fire. They are represented as the animal of fire, so they are considered important for the continuation of this world. These are representing “firemen” in the novel. Moreover, firemen have salamander imagery on their uniforms and call their trucks as “salamander. So the novel is showing that firemen are important for the life of society. Without these firemen, society could not survive. On the other hand, salamanders are also showing the sign of decay, transformation, and maturing. In the novel, decay is showing a kind of destruction, and firemen have the duty to destroy books, and houses and belongings of people. In the novel, Montag also resembles the concept of salamanders (Watt 80) in the case of maturing, when his life starts developing in the positive direction. Salamanders also represent the fire trucks in Fahrenheit 451.
“The Hearth and the Salamander” shows the first section of the novel. Both these symbols are related to the fire, which is the dominant part of the Montag’s life.
Sieve. Sieve is representing the concept of retaining the knowledge by the Government, and the Government’s idea of misleading the population with false information. It can also represent the Montag’s inability to grasp the full meaning of books upon reading them as there are many gaps in this knowledge.
Sand. Sand is representing the knowledge and tangible truth in the novel. Montag is also seeking this truth. Sand is also the symbol of time and its slow passage, remains of the former building or structure, and the belief of different communities including Muslims, Christians, and Jews, in the development of humanity.
“The Sieve and the Sand” is the title of the second part of Fahrenheit 451. This concept has been taken from the childhood memory of Montag, when he used to fill the sieve with sand on the beach. He uses this memory to read the whole Bible in a quick manner to retain much of the material in his mind. This metaphor is showing the concept of difficulty in grasping the knowledge in permanent way.
The Phoenix. Phoenix is a renowned Arabian bird that is thought to burn itself to death and emerge from the ashes as a new phoenix. According to most versions of stories, only one phoenix lives at a time and it renewed itself after every 500 years. The phoenix is representing the divine presence in the novel. Phoenix is also showing the concept of rebirth or a new beginning (Sisario n.p.) representing the birth and fall of any created thing. This symbol has been represented by the bombed city. Its ashes are thought to be the life of phoenix, and the author is showing that the city has been destroyed but it is just a new beginning of change or return. Bombing of the city caused Granger to give the concept of phoenix in the meaning of mankind, who burns them and rise out of the ashes again. Humanity learns from their mistakes and tries not to do that mistake again. Phoenix’s rebirth is not only representing the cyclical nature of the society and history, but also represents the spiritual resurrection of Montag.
Mirrors. Mirrors are symbolizing the self-understanding (McGiveron 287) and looking at oneself in a clear and obvious manner. They are also the symbols of entrance to some alternative realities of life. At the end of the novel, Granger gives the idea of developing a mirror factory, so that they can look and reflect on themselves. Montag also looks in the life’s mirror and thinks about himself. He knows himself clearly, and understands his surroundings throughout the novel. If Mildred takes a look in the life’s mirror, she would find that she is not a happily married woman. She would see a person, who is depressed and idolizes the television. People in the book don’t look at their lives resulting in the dystopian nature of the society in the novel.

Tone of the novel and its Paradoxical statements

This novel is telling about the feelings of societies about the knowledge and their thinking about the concept of similarity of human beings. Bradbury has presented different concepts in interesting paradoxical sentences. Bradbury symbolizes the bedroom as “not empty” in the start of the novel, but the room was “indeed empty” because wife of Montag is physically present in the room but not mentally. Most of the paradoxical instances have been presented in relation to Mildred, and these are symbolizing her empty as well as half-alive condition. These paradoxical sentences are also related to the “Electric-Eyed Snake” device and the Mechanical Hound, symbolizing their apparently living but actually dead condition. Finally, Mildred and other people in the society are also considered as machines, which are unable to think in a humane way. They can only be ordered to do different things, and are unable to do their tasks in a natural way.

Biblical imagery and language

Bradbury has also used the imagery and language from the Bible. In the last section, when Montag and Granger are walking upriver in order to find the survivors after bombing of the city, Montag tries to remember the Biblical passages. He thinks about Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To everything there is a season” He also thinks about Revelations 22:2, “And on either side of the river was there a tree of life . . . and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” The verse from Revelations also tells about the holy city of God, and the last line of the book, “When we reach the city,” strongly symbolizes the relation of the mass destruction in the Montag’s world and the Apocalypse of the Bible (Providence University,

Annotated Bibliography

Bradbury, R. Fahrenheit 451: A Novel. Simon & Schuster, 2011. Print.
This novel, written by Bradbury, has illustrated the future society of America. It has presented the people’s hatred towards knowledge and wisdom from literary sources such as books. Government has also been shown to take people’s attention away from normal literary thinking as it has appointed several firemen to burn the books. Ray Bradbury has beautifully symbolizes many aspects of society and show that there will be a new start.
Fox, David. "Fahrenheit 451: The Burning of American Culture." California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, 2011. Print.
In this article, David Fox has also talked about the American Culture. He has told that out of the Red Scare, Ray Bradbury wrote the novel Fahrenheit 451, which is showing not only America of that time, but also the society of our time. Fox has told that liberality is one of the causes in writing this novel. He has also talked about the science fiction novel The Martian Chronicles showing the issues of environment, colonization, and war.
Martinez, J. Art & Humanities - Professional Essays and Assignments: Architecture - Art History - Artist - Censorship - Criticism & Theory - Linguistics - Literature - Theology - Us Government Essay. 2014. Print.
This book has a number of essays, i.e. more than 3500 essays that are dealing with the arts and humanities. It has talked about the good habits, famous people and programs, important incidents and events, and many such articles.
McGiveron, Rafeeq O. "“To Build a Mirror Factory”: The Mirror and Self-Examination in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451." Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 39.3 (1998): 282-87. Print.
In this paper, Rafeeq O. McGiveron told about the unthinking society created by Ray Bradbury. He has noted that the novel shows that before the rebirth there is a huge destruction such as atomic bombing. He has told that Bradbury is clearly suggesting the people of America’s third atomic war “started since 1990” is “to build a mirror factory first and put out nothing but mirrors and take a long look in them”.
Moore, Douglas C. "Fahrenheit 451: Tempreture Rising." Cleveland State University, 2010. Print.
Douglas C. Moore has noted in this paper that the novel, Fahrenheit 451, has many theories and symbols for the readers. He has told that Bradbury has talked about the society’s dystopian nature, but has not given details of “hyperreal factors of television”. He has also noted the use of television in the destruction of human society. He has also talked about the Baudrillard’s claim that America can go beyond the concepts mentioned in science fiction novels.
Nick, O. Fahrenheit 451 (Ebook). Lorenz Educational Press, 1990. Print.
This book by Nick Otten is actually an idea book. It has presented the key ideas, background information, and different suggestions in a concise and conceptual manner, so that the reader would be able to grasp the meaning of the novel in a timely manner. It has also guided teachers about the use of literature to take their students to a next level of interest in literature.
Nordin, D.S. Rich Harvest. University Press of Mississippi, 1974. Print.
Rich Harvest is the book written by Dennis Sven Nordin in 1974. It has told about the different aspects of the real society. This book is about the harvesting of different crops. Its citation in the paper is in relation to Granger telling the concept of Granger in the meaning of farmer.

Works Cited

Altuntaş, Eylem. "The Theme of Alienation in Two Dystopian Novels: Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451." IIB INTERNATIONAL REFEREED ACADEMIC SOCIAL SCIENCES JOURNAL (2013): 31. Print.
Bradbury, R. Fahrenheit 451: A Novel. Simon & Schuster, 2011. Print.
Fahrenheit, Alex G. "Blog Entry Blog: Wednesday, April 25, 2012." Print.
Fox, David. "Fahrenheit 451: The Burning of American Culture." California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, 2011. Print.
Hendrix, H.V., G. Slusser, and E.S. Rabkin. Visions of Mars: Essays on the Red Planet in Fiction and Science. McFarland, Incorporated, Publishers, 2011. Print.
Martinez, J. Art & Humanities - Professional Essays and Assignments: Architecture - Art History - Artist - Censorship - Criticism & Theory - Linguistics - Literature - Theology - Us Government Essay. 2014. Print.
McGiveron, Rafeeq O. "“To Build a Mirror Factory”: The Mirror and Self-Examination in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451." Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 39.3 (1998): 282-87. Print.
Moore, Douglas C. "Fahrenheit 451: Tempreture Rising." Cleveland State University, 2010. Print.
Nick, O. Fahrenheit 451 (Ebook). Lorenz Educational Press, 1990. Print.
Nordin, D.S. Rich Harvest. University Press of Mississippi, 1974. Print.
Providence University. " Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury – Part III-Burning Bright". Providence University. Providence University, 2014. Web. n.d. < >.
Sisario, Peter. "A Study of the Allusions in Bradbury's" Fahrenheit 451"." English Journal (1970): 201-12. Print.
Watt, Donald. "Fahrenheit 451." Alienation (2009): 71. Print.
Williams, Raymond. "Science Fiction." Science Fiction Studies (1988): 356-60. Print.
Zipes, Jack. "Mass Degradation of Humanity and Massive Contradictions in Bradbury’s Vision of America in Fahrenheit 451." Bloom, Modern Critical Interpretations (2008): 3-18. Print.

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