Fahrenheit 451 Duality Analysis

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Duality is a literary term that describes the two sides to everything. In Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, duality is shown through fire. The story outlines how fire can be used as a destructive or renewing force, and how it affects the characters. Through the usage of fire, Bradbury shows how the positive and negative side of duality is determined by the person who controls the spark. Fire is used destructively in Fahrenheit 451 when it is used in a way that negatively affects the victim’s life. This is shown through the firemen burning books and personal property. Montag begins the story as a fireman who believes in what he does due to the fact that he does not know the magnitude of the destruction he is causing. An example of this is when Montag…show more content…
An example of this positive side of fire’s duality is when Montag kills Beatty and realizes that, “Beatty wanted to die,” (116). At first, this use of fire obviously seems negative because Montag murders another human being. However, his realization of the burden that knowledge put on Beatty makes this an example of fire renewing. Beatty is well read and rather intellectual. He knows about famous authors and can quote lines from classic pieces of literature. Although this gives him an advantage because he is not ignorant like the rest of the society, it ends up being a burden. While conversing with Montag, Beatty talks about how he has tried to equate the universe and make sense of the various opinions and contradicting ideas in books. Although to people such as Montag, Faber, and Granger this knowledge seems like an advantage, it is a burden to Beatty. Beatty is puzzled and troubled by the fact that he can not make sense of the literature, and for this reason he wants to die. By killing him, Montag frees Beatty from the shackles of knowledge and allows him to move on into an ignorant and peaceful state of mind. Montag may have only burned Beatty because he was an obstacle, but the repercussions of this event makes it a renewing use of fire. Beatty is released from his life filled with burden, which is what makes this positive. Not only is Beatty’s death an example of this side of fire’s duality, but Montag and the rest of the firemen watching the woman set her house and self on fire is also an example of renewal. Before she dies the woman in the house states “Play the man, Master Ridley: we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out,” (33). Montag brings this up while they are in the firetruck and Beatty explains that Latimer said this to Nicholas Ridley as they were being burnt alive. This relates back to the last example about Beatty’s knowledge, but
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