The Topic Of Happiness In Bradbury's Novel
One of the age-old question that one could ever ask is, ‘what is happiness?’. Happiness is and has been dreamt of by everyone and yet we still can’t define it exactly. Humans in pursuit of their happiness do often discuss and one of the main vessels we use is literature. Fahrenheit 451 is one of many novels that scrutinize the topic of happiness. Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian science fiction novel that is first published in 1953, it is considered to be the greatest work of an American author named Ray Bradbury and has been applauded for “its stance against censorship and its defense of literature as necessary both to the humanity of individuals and to civilization” (Bauer).
In the first part of the novel, the protagonist named Guy Montag works as a fireman, however in this novel dystopian setting which mainly dominates this book theme, and the advancement of technology makes fireproofing of homes possible rendering the job of conventional firemen, as they are commonly known, useless. However, those firemen still exist because they have been given a new role. they supposed to burn books and to become official censors of the state. Guy Montag is given a responsibility as a fireman weirdly to destroy the literature he finds and also the houses in which he finds the contrabands. Books are to be burned without question.
In this fictional work, the totalitarian government ordered that all books be burned. Montag, hence, burns the contraband along with the other to show allegiance to the regime. Everybody conforms to the status quo without a space to develop their own ideas. Everyone would hence be ‘happy.’ When there’s literature, new ideas come to the people, resulting in chaos and misery. At first, Montag accepts that he is happy since he was doing something he thought he supposed to do, in any case, this soon changes. It is no secret that everything is not as Montag wants it to be. When Montag meets Clarisse McClellan, his new bubbly adolescent neighbor, he starts to address whether he truly is happy. But this is not the case for Mildred Montag, his wife.
Portraying the average individuals in her era, she is portrayed to be beautiful with porcelain skin, she is what the society demanded women be. She also very immersed with technology, as everyone is in her society. She demands her husband to be able to provide more so she will be able to have more technology to immerse herself. She is immersed so deep in her obsession with technology that she is basically a living zombie. Her life is only a vicious cycle of food, technology, and drugs. This is shown in the novel by the scene showing her overdosing on sleeping pills, fortunately, the technology in this novel make it possible for her to be “resurrected” and this novel portrays it to be something commonly happened in her era, it is weirdly normal for people to nearly meet death because of overdose. Is it possible for her to be really happy?
First and foremost, while contemplating about happiness, it is important to define what is happiness. The Oxford Dictionary defines happiness as “the state of being satisfied that something is good or right” (Hornby et al.). In this instance, Mildred believed that she is happy, she was able to believe that because she is able to fill up towards society standards, she is doing what everybody doing so why would not she be happy? Conforming to the society standard, her action slowly becomes her habit, her moral is overwritten by the government standards. She is basically nurtured by the government to abide by the new norms. Mildred is unable to think for herself because she was told how to think. And being brainwashed makes her disable her critical thinking, burying her own needs and dreams. She is tricked to think that she is happy even though she is not truly happy. This is normal however for people to abide by social norms because of the underlying fear of retaliation and punishment by society, this is also shown in the novel when Guy is frightened when he purposely hides a novel. But for her to discard her way of life is nearly impossible, she is acting like she supposed to, she is having the life she thought she supposed to have, even for Guy Montag to realize that he is not truly happy is something that is unexpected without the existence of Clarisse as a catalyst in Guy’s awakening.
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