Symbolism heats up Fahrenheit 451
In the futuristic, science fiction novel Fahrenheit 451, the author, Ray Bradbury, uses significant symbolism to create strong imagery. Bradbury incorporates symbolism such as burning, fire, and hands into this novel to enhance a moving and powerful storyline.
First, burning is an important symbol in the novel. Fahrenheit 451 begins with, It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed (3). At one instance, after Montag rebels, he tells Beatty something very important, we never burned right (119). In his personal thoughts, Montag reminds himself, burn them or theyll burn youRight now its as simple as that (123). What and how to burn are issues in this novel. In one thought, Montag has an idea about burning that states, the sun burnt every day. It burnt timeso if he burnt things with the firemen and the sun burnt time, that meant that everything burnt! One of them had to stop burning (141).
Fire is also an integral element of symbolism in Fahrenheit 451. Fire consumes minds, spirits, men, ideas, and books. Fires importance is described at the beginning of the book when a clear picture of firemen is first seen. "With his symbolic helmet numbered 451 on his stolid head, and his eyes all orange flame with the thought of what came next, he flicked the igniter and the house jumped up in a gorging fire that burned the evening sky red and yellow and black (3). Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature at which books burn and is symbolically written on the firemens helmets, tanks, and in the fire station. Fire is the prime symbol in the story. The question of, What is fire? is asked and scientists say, Its a mystery (115). Fire is used throughout as a demonstration of goodness and rebirth. This can be seen when the old woman quoted Latimer as her house was beginning to be burnt down, when Guy Montag burns down his house, and when the intellectuals cook the bacon in the forest.
Hands are strong symbol in the novel. This symbolism is shown when Montag first steals a book and In Beattys sight, Montag felt the guilt of his hands. His fingers were like ferrets that had done some evil and now never restedthese were the hands that had acted on their own, no part of him, here was where the conscience first manifested itself to snatch booksthese hands seemed gloved with blood (105). When Montag steals two books the narrator describes what has happened as, Montag had done nothing. His hand had done it all, his hand, with a brain of its own, with a conscience and a curiosity in each trembling finger, had turned thief (37). When Montag shows Faber the Bible and then his hands by themselves, like two men working together, began to rip the pages from the book. The hands tore the fly-leaf and then the first and then the second page (88). Through Bradburys symbolism of hands he seems to suggest that actions speak louder than words.]
Symbolism forms a substantial, integral element in the message of this novel. The depth of meaning visual imagery has to the books storyline is demonstrated through the fire, burning, and hands. The reader can feel the strength and emotional impact brought by strong symbols bringing feelings depth. Ray Bradbury, utilizing fire, burning, and hands, demonstrates the power of symbolism to tell a story vividly in Fahrenheit 451.