In Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury created two female characters: Mildred Montag and Clarisse McClellan. Mildred and Clarisse were brought to exist in many different ways and are very different people; although they do share some similarities. Mildred Montag is the wife to Guy Montag. She epitomized the shallowness and emptiness of the society. Mildred forgoes true happiness and instead she constantly submerged herself in technology like her seashell radios and television walls.
Said best by Joseph Campbell, “It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.” Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 closely relates to this quote in the sense that Guy Montag stumbles upon a woman who treasures her books more than life itself, literally. After several years of working as a firefighter in this dystopian society, he runs into Clarisse who then questions his happiness. Confused and angered he begins to wonder why she would ask him such a question. After analyzing, he comes to the conclusion that he is not happy.
Phelps and Mrs. Bowles, arrive to watch television with Mildred. Montag, disturbed by the women's mindless pleasantries and lack of awareness of the world around them, unplugs the television walls and tries to start a conversation with them about the impending war. Mrs. Phelps doesn't seem to care about her third husband who's left for war, and the women quickly turn the conversation to something they feel is more interesting, a recent television program. Montag persists, questioning the women about their children. Mrs. Phelps has none, and Mrs. Bowles has two, for whom she obviously doesn't really care about, "The world must reproduce you know, the race must go one I plunk the children in school nine days out of ten.
She watches TV all the time; for example, when Montag returns home after work with good news of his promotion, she does not seem to care and focuses on the screen. This seems to be a usual response as it did not surprise Montag. Secondly, Linda’s action as a whistle-blower could well depict the 1950s of American society. During the 1950s, when the novel Fahrenheit 451 was published, McCarthyism began to startle the people. Mistrust among the neighbors aroused and everyone doubted each other for being a communist.
The government wants a society where everyone is "equal". Montag thinks that he is happy with his life, job, and marriage, but when he meets a young girl called Clarisse he realizes that he is not happy and everything changes. Mildred, as wife of Montag, plays a very important role in the life of Montag. Through the actions of Mildred, the reader is led to the alarming conclusion that she is crazy, but the reality is the opposite. The government affects Mildred’s way of thinking and her society’s ways of thinking by taking books away.
In Fahrenheit 451, we can see that through characters thoughts, dialogue, and reactions in certain situations can reveal a lot about them. For instance, Mildred, Montag’s wife, lives in what is suppose to be a utopian society where everyone is happy and content, but Mildred is very unhappy with her life, as we can see when she attempts suicide. Mildred tries to convince herself that she is happy with her boring life which just consists of watching television all day and she denies the fact that she attempted to commit suicide. When Guy Montag is talking to Mildred about her television obsession he says, “Will you turn the parlour off?” and Mildred responded by saying,"That's my family" revealing the detachment from reality she has. (Bradbury
(Stanton) The theme here could be how technology affects people. Fahrenheit 451 also has the same theme. “His wife in the TV parlor paused long enough to glance up.” (Bradbury, part 1) No communication happens she is too busy focusing on her wall screen, or as we know it the TV. One shows little communication while the other shows no face to face interactions at all. We cannot let technology get this far.
At the beginning of the story, Mildred and Montag already had a shaky relationship. Mildred constantly tried to tell Montag to conform to society and to relax more. Nevertheless, Mildred still considered Montag to be her husband, loving him as her own. However, when Montag began reading books in the house, Mildred immediately called the authorities. Having been betrayed by his wife, Montag had no choice but to leave the city.
In other words, the overwhelming force to follow and chase after so-called ideals blinds people from the truth and pushes them to believe in whatever the social norm claims to be correct. For example, in Fahrenheit 451, readers discover that it is Mildred, Montag’s own wife, who betrays him for the comfort of not being suspected herself. Even as she is leaving the burning house, her only concern is for the parlor walls, as depicted when Bradbury describes her to be “mumbling, ‘Poor family, poor family, oh everything gone, everything, everything gone now ...’” (Bradbury 116). Through this small excerpt, readers can identify how materialistic her mindset is and realize that her priorities are highly disorganized. Not only does she disregard her husband’s life, but she also places the importance of parlor walls above him.
Even when they do talk about their objects, they don’t have an actual conversation because everyone says the same exact thing. (SIP-B) The characters also start to lose their emotions towards others. (STEWE-1) When Mildred puts in the alarm to turn in Montag for stealing books, she says “‘Poor family, poor family oh everything gone, everything, everything gone now…”(108). She is not upset that her husband will go to jail or be punished. All she cares about are her parlor walls, seashells, and every little object that makes her happy.