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Fahrenheit 451 & Nineteen-Eighty Four

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Fahrenheit 451 & Nineteen-Eighty Four

          In Fahrenheit 451, Ray Beadbury depicts his vision of a futuristic dystopian society where books are hunted and society is drowned in a luxurious trivialities. This novel parallels Orwell's dystopian masterpiece Nineteen Eighty-Four in various aspects. This essay is dedicated to compare and contrast between the protagonists, Guy Montag and Winston Smith, in both novels.  

       On one hand,  Guy Montag and Winston Smith are close in age, play similar roles for the interest  an authoritarian governments and live in a controlled society. The two protagonists are in their thirties and occupy a position in which they receive instructions from an upper totalitarian power. In Fahrenheit 451, the controlling power is represented in the firehouse where Guy Montag works as a fireman in reverse who ,ironically, sets up fire into houses instead of putting it out. Along with his team, Montag doesn't only burn all the books   caught but also the houses where these books are found. In the opening passage of the novel, Montag  enjoyed turning books into ashes, as the narrator says, "IT WAS A PLEASURE TO BURN IT was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed…"(p.1). However, as the actions progress, truth starts revealing itself for him and his struggle against the authoritarian power takes its way. Similarly, Winston works as a writer for the interest of the totalitarian Party. Paradoxically,  the writer in the Ministry of Truth is writing anything but the truth. He has to obliterate and re-write different historical records to be re-published constantly. Then, like Montag, he burns the past, history and truth existed in the original documents in the "memory hole"  soon after the process of "rectification" is done. Thus, knowledge, truth and history are scorched in both societies. Moreover, in both novels, the protagonists seem to know nothing about the past. Montag doesn't know that firemen used to put fire out instead of starting it. Thus, his quest for the truth starts after that, as he asks Captain Beatty, "Didn't firemen prevent fires rather than stoke them up and get them going?"(p.16), whereas Winston  seems to remember things about the past but isn't sure about what he remembers and can't find any evidence proving the opposite of Party claims.  

        In addition, the two protagonists have unsettled marital life. Montag's wife, Mildred, is totally immersed in a shallow, materialistic life-style in which all what she cares about is watching the "parlor-walls", listening to the seashell radio in her ears, and driving her fast beetle car ,as we read in," Well, wasn't there a wall between him and Mildred, when you came down to it? Literally not just one wall but, so far, three! And expensive, too."(p.21 ). Thus, Montag is living with a sense of estrangement, loneliness, and lack of love in his marital life, as we read in" …And suddenly she was so strange he couldn't believe he knew her at all. He was in someone else's house" and " If she died, he was certain he wouldn't cry. For it would be the dying of an unknown, a street face, a newspaper image…"( p.21 ). Likewise, Winston was married to Kathrin who was brainwashed by the Party's propaganda and conformed with its ideologies, " That she had without exception the most stupid, vulgar, empty mind that he had ever encountered…"(p.69). As a result, the two men had to find other women than their wives to understand their mentalities. The young girl, Clarssie, living in Montag's neighborhood has attracted his attention because of her nonconformity with the society standards as she tells him, "I rarely watch the 'parlor walls' or go to races or Fun Parks. So I've lots of time for crazy thoughts, I guess" (p.3). In fact, she has stimulated Montag to think ,question and search about issues have never crossed his mind, such as the past, his happiness, affection, and contentment with his job, which at the end led to the turning point in his character. Likewise, Winston falls in love with Julia after finding out that she share him the hate for the Party.

       Moreover, the two protagonists are considered thought criminals and lawbreakers in their societies. Both of them have managed to reach out and read a banned book; Montag has read the Bible while Winston has read Goldstein's book. In Faherheit 451, Montag steals and hides books during his raids to burn houses. After some time, he decides to take out all the books  and read them with his wife who tries to grab the books from him in order to burn them in the kitchen incinerator while explaining, "Books aren't people. You read and I look around, but there isn't anybody! ... my `family' is people"(p.34). In addition,  she ends up turning him to the firehouse. However, Montag manages to find a guide, Faber, who could support , instruct and teach him. Similarly, Winston ,after talking to O'Brien in his office, thinks that he found the right person to fight with him against the party. Then, Winston starts reading Goldstein's book secretly. Unfortunately, he ends up being deceived by O'Brien who turns to be an undercover agent interrogating, torturing and brainwashing thoughtcrime prisoners in the Ministry of Love.



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