Thursday, 11 September 2014

Review: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Title: Fahrenheit 451
Author: Ray Bradbury
Genre: Science Fiction
Year: 1953
Pages: 159

Fahrenheit 451 is set in a dystopian world in which it is strictly forbidden to own books, and firemen are to make sure this law is complied with. Their job is to burn books, and if needed the houses in which these are hidden.
Our protagonist, Guy Montag, is one of these firemen. Not aware of the fact that once books were allowed to be read, and firemen actually put out fires, he never questioned his occupation. Not until he meets his new seventeen-year-old neighbour who teaches him to think independently.

I thought the concept of this story was pretty well thought out, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The characters are well-developed, as well as the world. Most remarkable perhaps, was the realistic feel to it. Whenever Bradbury had a character explain the workings of the world, it almost sounded rational, and as if it could happen in real life.

When reading reviews written by women on this book, I noticed the feminist point-of-view: women are portrayed as stupid and brainwashed and of the books mentioned, no author is female. I’m not at all used to feminist reading, and thus had not noticed the latter. The former remark, however, I feel is unjustified. Every single person in this novel is at some point brainwashed – men too. I would even like to argue that the most important character in this novel is female: Clarice. She is the instigator – without her, Montag would have remained naïve in terms of his profession. To me thus, it feels inappropriate to mark Bradbury, or at least this novel, misogynist.

Though I was compelled by the story, the ending seemed rather incoherent – both in relation to the rest of the novel, as well as by itself. I was confused as I kept losing track of the story line, and I felt the ending just did not suite the over-all style and ambience. I will, however, not go in too much detail about this, as I want this to remain spoiler-free.

There was another aspect of this novel I felt dubious about: although the story is critical towards society in so many sophisticated ways, the general moral seems cliché: television ruins you, read books instead! Although I understand this is not at all all Bradbury tries to convey, it is the undertone throughout the novel, and it felt too basic for the potential this book had.

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