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Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451: New Historicism

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New Historicism: Fahrenheit 451
Ray Bradbury is a well-known author of stories, screenplays, and multiple novels that have left a lasting influence on American fiction. He left legions of devoted readers and a vast oeuvre that, at its best, combined Hobbesian fears with emotionally resonant hopes for his country and for the human race(Weiner 79). Bradbury’s work contained themes stemming from events and circumstances of the 1950’s. Such as the history of past wars, the times of an irrepressible movement of technological developments, and the censoring of offensive material. Ray Bradbury’s classic novel, Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953, is a cultural time marker, helping us to locate the past, evaluate the present, and imagine the future (Smolla …show more content…
The menace of war and nuclear conflagration permeates the novel. “We’ve started and won two atomic wars since 1990” (p. 73), the narrator explains. Now the bombers are in the air at all times (p. 73) (Smolla 896). Besides the war on America, there is a war happening at the heart of the country that Bradbury presents through main protagonist, Guy Montag, who burns books for a living. “Seemingly easy to hide, easy to carry around, books nonetheless have—or had, until the advent of the Internet— a particular vulnerability. They can be controlled at the point of production (by censoring their contents in advance), and can also readily be destroyed before, during, or after their distribution. Yet, ironically, the book burning (initiated in Nazi Germany in 1933 by students, not by the government) seen in newsreels emanating from Germany in the 1930s, itself played a part in the spread of libraries in the U.S” (Patai 43). Similarly to WWII and the book burnings in Germany, Fahrenheit 451 (being the temperature that book paper burns), contains the matter of censorship and a silencing of free thought. This war on free thought in the novel was one that Bradbury had fought in his own life. Patai goes on to say, “Writing less than a decade later, in the shadow of McCarthy and Stalin, Bradbury feared the suppression of independent thought in whatever form it might …show more content…
He quickly recognized its potential to keep people glued to the tube, allowing it bit by bit to replace lived experience” (Patai 42). One example of the powerful effects of television that Bradbury recognized are portrayed through Montag’s wife, Mildred. They have a television in three out of their four bedrooms. Which Bradbury predicted quite well seeing that, “By 1950, 9 % of households had TVs, a figure that grew to over 64 % by the mid- 50s, and to more than 87 % by 1960. Thereafter, having achieved a high level of saturation, televisions in American homes grew slowly. At present, more than 97 % of households have televisions; this leaves aside the question of how many televisions per household there are, or how readily accessible all sorts of media are today via the Internet” (Patai 42). She is so consumed by the television show that when Montag asks, “Will you turn the parlour off?” she replies with, "That's my family” (Fahrenheit 451 Quotes). Bradbury had a prediction of Television and how it desensitises one from

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