A writer once said, “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim, and end of human existence.” This compels people to interrogate the significance of their happiness and if it genuinely embodies purposeful lives that they want to live. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury teaches readers that happiness is directly tied to genuinely knowing one’s self. Bradbury tackles the question as well as the theme of what it means to be truly happy, which deals with the books society’s view of happiness.
Through the main characters, Bradbury portrays the different extents of happiness; a lifeless path, heading nowhere, as well as another extending to pure human experience as coming across what makes you happy as a person. He highlights that being truly happy is figuring out who one is and knowing what one wants. Furthermore, the majority of the society takes happiness as a cover or sanctuary as well as showing that happiness is based and formed on human equality. Lastly, he emphasizes happiness through the satisfaction of their curiosity, and human and world experiences. Fahrenheit 451, teaches readers what being truly happy profoundly means throughout the approach of the characters in the novel.
To begin with, Bradbury uses the main character, Guy Montag to portray the perspective of happiness by figuring out what really makes one, as a person happy. He highlights that being truly happy is when realizing out who one’s real self and knowing what one wants. At the beginning of the novel, Montag reveals his character by telling himself his real feelings. “Happy! Of all the nonsense… He felt his smile slide away… He was not happy. He was not happy. He said the words to himself. He recognized this as the true state of affairs. He wore his happiness like a mask…” (Bradbury 8).
He finally came across of his unhappiness. Until this point, he didn’t ever stop to think that he was miserable. He had gone with his life and pretended that he was happy when he wasn’t. In this quote, Montag is implying that he doesn’t really know what is making him unhappy. He faces problems getting back up and seeing his life as exciting once again. All in all, genuinely being happy isn’t easily understood, it takes a lot to know what oneself as a person emotionally and physically needs to make one feel the way they want to.
Alongside finding out who one is as a person, the majority of people take their happiness as a sanctuary in nothing but submissive entertainment. Mildred Montag is portrayed as a women who doesn’t realize who she is and what she actually feels towards herself. Mildred effectively portrays the idea when she said “My ‘family’ is people. They tell me things: I laugh. They laugh!” (Bradbury 69). In this quote, Mildred is describing the gigantic wall television. Happiness being represented in this novel is being portrayed by hiding behind a fake mask to show that they are happy when they really are not.
Technological entertainment is so crucial in her life that she refers it to as “family,” indicating the television shows as her loved ones. Relating herself to a world that isn’t even real, Mildred finds herself able to relate to the fake characters and stories displayed in front of her, giving her an artificial sense of happiness. She achieves her happiness, as she lifelessly watches her ‘family’ with a senseless mind. Her actual family is only Guy Montag, whom she has no genuine affection towards.
Montag is resentful with Mildred because of her incapability to express feelings for anything. “We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?” (Bradbury 49). In this quote, Montag illustrates that people like Mildred use false entertainment to avoid fret and feelings, by replacing it with imaginary characters, which ends with a happy ending all the time. Mildred does not realize she is living a pointless life, a life that isn’t even hers.
However, Montag expresses towards Mildred that living true life comes with struggles, and that she needs to take her own responsibilities and her choices of a way of happiness, something that Mildred fails to do for herself. In Fahrenheit 451, Mildred reflects the perspective of society that almost everyone is a reflection of herself, an uncaring and lifeless lifestyle by achieving happiness through ignorance, which Bradbury portrays that to be happy, one has to know how to connect individually, with others and the world to truly understand what being happy really is to one.
Furthermore, happiness is represented based on human equality and finding happiness through the satisfaction of their curiosity, and human and world experiences. Bradbury depicts the perspective of Captain Beatty’s on human equality. Beatty states to Montag “We must all be alike… everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy” (Bradbury 55). Beatty explains that it isn’t equality that causes people to be happy but rather that inequality that causes an imbalance.
He goes on with explaining that to be equal, one must not think about or read books, because thinking creates chaos and imbalance. In the novel, the firemen burn books to advocate happiness through equality. Beatty’s knowledge takes an ordered approach in finding happiness as a lifeless path. To add on, Clarisse and Professor Faber are characters who discover how happiness is found in oneself. They find happiness through their own indulgences, curiosity and experiences. They are aware for who they are and direct tie to knowing themselves. Faber implies his happiness saying “The things you’re looking for, Montag, are in the world, but the only way the average chap will ever see ninety-nine percent of them is in a book” (Bradbury 82).
Montag, for example, is always searching for who he is and where his happiness lies. In the other hand, Faber says that through the books, he can reach the desires and peace that he wants to make him indeed himself. He feels that true happiness can be contacted through books and writings, a human experience that gives one a new realization of life. Just like the Professor, Clarisse is separated from the society because she knows who she is and what makes her happy as a person which alters her perspective on things to be different from others.
Clarisse restricts herself from the technology, explores the world and still has fun that develops her own personal knowledge and interests. Clarisse chooses to spend time with her family, interact with the world, and discover new things. Clarisse directly knows her true self and that its her own self esteem and personality that makes her truly happy. Given these points, happiness can be found based on human equality or through satisfaction of curiosity and experiences, but as an end result knowing what first really makes oneself, in order to have happiness.
In conclusion, with the novel, Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury implements the theme happiness as the primary focus and that it ties directly to genuinely knowing one’s self. With the different approach with each character, Bradbury brings a stance of how true happiness is considered to each person. He portrays it as a lifeless path or as another to pure human experience. He highlights that being truly happy is figuring out who one is and know what one wants, to know where they want to head emotionally and physically. Bradbury uses the novel to demonstrate that with happiness, it genuinely represents purposeful lives that they want to live knowing who one is with themselves.
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