Ignorance In Ray Bradbury's 'Fahrenheit 451'

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Is ignorance bliss? Or can true happiness come only from knowledge? In Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451, the protagonist, Guy Montag, lives in a futuristic, dystopian version of the United States in which knowledge is frowned upon, ignorance runs rampant, and uniformity is imperative. To fit in with the societal assumption that sameness equates to happiness, Guy feels he must conform and play the part of a contented citizen. However, Guy frequently finds himself questioning the validity of his society’s mindless, materialistic approach to life. This disharmony between inward thought and outward action catalyzes Montag’s desire for change, leads him to deeper introspection, and contributes to the novel’s central message that if one remains…show more content…
Until Clarisse inadvertently forces him to accept the truth, Montag denies his unhappiness to himself as well as to everyone else. He fervently denies the suggestion that he is not in love with anyone, claiming without hesitation that he is “very much in love” with Mildred (Bradbury 22). In light of the emotionally vacant and meaningless interactions between Montag and Mildred, the assertion that such a relationship is ‘love’ seems absurd. Montag never stops to wonder whether the things he says are true or not; there is no reflection of himself in his words. Montag’s defensive, almost automatic, responses are characteristic of a man who voices only what he thinks he is supposed to feel, not what he truly feels. Montag quickly begins to understand how ignorant he has been of his own thoughts and desires. He realizes that he did not become a fireman out of personal desire, but rather he “ran after” his father and grandfather, both fireman, “in [his] sleep” (Bradbury 51). “In his sleep” suggests that there was no conscious thought involved when he pursued his career, as if the decision was made by his body without his consent. Montag’s realization that he chose his path out of obligation, rather than personal desire, helps him come to the realization that his ignorance regarding his own thoughts and feelings caused his…show more content…
Living as a “normal” citizen of his time, and the growing feelings of uneasiness this brought allowed him to realize the wrongs of his society’s ways and begin to seek life anew. Throughout his search, Montag also comes to know the importance of self-understanding, an essential element to a truly fulfilled life. Although it is common practice for individuals to go through life under the false conviction that “ignorance is bliss,” Ray Bradbury reveals that this notion is far from reality. Without an understanding of the world and one’s personal role in it, one can only go through life living out a pre-packaged lie, a plastic mold of expectation that cannot bring personal fulfillment or

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