Character Change In Fahrenheit 451

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Many characters in Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451 prove to be interesting character studies. These characters include Clarisse McClellan, Captain Beatty, and Guy Montag. Montag, in particular, shows interesting evolution as a character as he goes from being a blind follower of his society’s laws to questioning the very reason for his existence. The three dimensions of Montag’s character, physiology, sociology, and psychology, reveal a well-rounded character that changes throughout the story. Analyzing these elements of Montag’s character reveals a theme that life should be questioned and the unobserved life is not worth living.
The physiology of Guy Montag shows that he fulfills the stereotypes of the “American Dream” but is not satisfied by them.
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Clarisse simply asks Montag, “‘Are you happy?’” (Bradbury 4).
No one has ever asked Montag that question, and Montag thought he was happy up until that moment. This moment causes Montag to question everything he thought he once knew, which ultimately drives his rebellion.
However, he quickly realizes that his happiness is merely an illusion and that he has not been truly living but merely existing.
After meeting Clarisse, Montag’s perspective about his society changes from blind acceptance to one of reckless ambition and skepticism. After Clarisse asks Montag if he is happy, Montag realizes that he is not. The narrator describes that “He felt his smile slide away, melt, fold over and down on itself like a tallow skin [...]
Darkness. He was not happy. He was not happy” (Bradbury 12). Montag’s repeated behavior of smiling before bedtime changes drastically after Clarisse asks him whether or not he is happy. This marks the moment when he begins to question the ways of his society, and he also begins to want more from life than just the distracted living that it offers. Because Montag has not done much thinking during his lifetime, he has difficulty thinking
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