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Technology and Science Fiction in Fahrenheit 451

  • Date Submitted: 02/05/2011 09:58 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 54.7 
  • Words: 387
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"Fahrenheit 451," like many other dystopian novels, reflects a fear of the technology and scientific advancement that is contemporary with the writing of the novel. Bradbury picks a number of areas on which to focus.

Primarily, of course, is the contrast between the world of books and the world of the 'parlour walls.' At the time of writing, the television was already becoming a powerful force, and the science-fiction idea of all written fiction being supplanted by wall-sized television screens must have seemed a logical extension of what was happening at the time. It seems almost prescient now with the advent of large flat-screen TVs.

In addition to the tension between television and the printed word, Bradbury also targets other areas of technology. The cars in this future are all high-powered machines capable of easily driving at over a hundred miles an hour and the speed-limit is the lowest speed that a car must drive at, rather than the highest. Advertising billboards have to be two hundred feet long in order to be visible to the speeding cars (16). The ability to move at such speed, Faber suggests, merely removes the time that might be spent in thought and again leads to the dumbing down of society (92).

Bradbury also gives this fear of technology a shape in the form of the Mechanical Hound. A robot dog created to chase down criminals and paralyse them with an injection, this machine comes to represent the whole technological society for Montag. Escaping the Hound comes to equal escaping the society.

Finally, a key reflection of the time of writing comes in the form of the atomic bomb dropped on the city at the end of the novel. "Fahrenheit 451" was written just eight years after the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan and at a time when Cold War fears of nuclear attack were a constant presence. However, in a strange contradiction, the dropping of the bomb in the novel signals the saving of civilization rather than the ending of it. It represents...

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