Sunday, August 29, 2010

Theme - Censorship

stopping the transmission or publication of matter considered objectionable.

In the novel Fahrenheit 451, censorship plays an enormous role and is noted to be the most important theme.

In the futuristic world of Fahrenheit 451, firemen start fires rather than extinguishing them. People of this society do not think independently nor do they have meaningful conversations. They don’t even have an interest in reading books.

Rather than that, they watch an extreme amount of television on wall-size sets and listen to “Sea-shell radio” which is attached to their ears. People drive extremely fast due to lack of appreciation for nature; They never take time to look around and admire nature's wonders and instead takes them for granted.

“It was a pleasure to burn.”, the opening line of the book, grabs the reader’s attention and immediately tells where the unfortunate hero stands on the idea of books being banned. The books in Fahrenheit 451 were banned for several reasons. First off, many books were banned because they weren't politically correct.

"Colored people don't like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people
don't feel good about Uncle Tom's Cabin. Burn it. Someone's written a book on
tobacco and cancer of the lungs? The cigarette people are weeping? Burn the
book. Serenity Montag. Peace Montag"

If one group of people, no matter how small, didn't like a book, it would be banned.

People in the novel are afraid-afraid of themselves. They fear the thought of knowing, which leads them to depend of others (government) to think for them. Since they aren't thinking, they need something to occupy their time. This is where television and mass media comes in. A whole host of problems arise from television: violence, depression and even suicide.

Fahrenheit 451 depicts what can happen if a society allows the government to take total control of what they do (or do not) read, watch, and discuss.

Although the books and people have fallen victims to censorship in Fahrenheit 451, luckily, some citizens remain who are willing to sacrifice their lives to ensure that books remain alive. As Faber notes in a conversation with Montag,
"It's not books you need, it's some of the things that once were in
Faber then continues this conversation with Montag pointing out that people need
"the right to carry out actions based on what we learn (from books). . .

Tool of censorship - Mass media

In the novel, mass media is being used as a tool of censorship.

The programmes broadcasted on television do not provoke the viewer's thinking; The programmes do not give food for thought, they provide mindless entertainment. This shows that the government does not give viewers the slightest opportunity to use their brains to think by giving them shows that are meant to entertain and not spark ideas.

Because the society depends on the government so much, they blindly follow and believe whatever the government says. When the hunt for Montag went on, the government killed a man and claimed on national television that they have killed Montag when in actual fact they let Montag escape. By doing so they want to let the society know that the Government is always right and that the Government never lets anyone get away with non-conformity.


  1. While it's true that the government was incredibly controlling, this is not a story of government oppression. You must remember, it started with the people. This is what the people wanted. The people ostracized the unique. The people stopped thinking, stopped reading. In the end, we see a controlling government, but in this book, the process was the emphasis, rather than the result. What is the government? A reflection of the people.

    1. Could knowledge versus ignorance be the main theme of Fahrenheit 451 rather than censorship?

    2. I think they both feed off each other. Censorship is definitely the first thing we see, and the promotion of ignorance is it's backbone.

    3. how does faber play such an important role in this theme????

    4. how does faber play such an important role in this theme????

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. All true but what could b a thematic statement for censorship for the book

  4. Do you mind if I use this for a project?