1984was published by George Orwell, or Eric Blair, in 1948. Fahrenheit 451 was published in 1951 by Ray Bradbury. Both are works of dystopian fiction, though of a somewhat different nature. In this essay, I hope to illustrate the differences and similarities between the two novels.
One of the most glaring similarities, perhaps, is the character development arc. Both main characters, at the start, lead meaningless, bland lives; one day, a girl (or woman) appears, changing them forever; they rebel completely against their society, but eventually they calm down.
However, the character of Guy Montag (Fahrenheit 451) ultimately triumphs – he evades the government, finds peace in a community of like-minded people, and escapes destruction in the nuclear war. Winston Smith, on the other hand, fails and eventually submits to brainwashing.
While the theme of a government which alters history is present in both of said books, the alteration is much more in the foreground of 1984than it is in Fahrenheit 451, and it is used extensively to indicate the nature of the regime itself.
This is shown in the way Orwell transitions from a war with Eurasia, changing suddenly to a war with Eastasia halfway through, to an ending of: “Oceania was at war with Eurasia: Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia”.
The role of Smith in the vast machine of the party is similar to that of the “Fireman” Guy Montag in that he frequently alters writing (as incineration is also a form of alteration) to suit the needs of those in power. However, the figures IN power are fundamentally different.
For example, while both of the books involve war as a background, the nature of war in 1984is fundamentally different from that of Fahrenheit 451, as Orwell’s concept of war is that of a tool for the perpetuation of scarcity and paranoia, while Bradbury’s is all-out total annihilation.
Furthermore, the government in 1984 relies largely on brainwashing and totalitarian policies that involve mass surveillance and spies, with organisations, namely the Spies and the Youth League, similar to the Hitler Youth: “’You’re a traitor!’ yelled the boy”. In short, the Party cares for the thought, not the act.
In contrast, Bradbury’s government keeps tabs on all those who deviate from the majority, but does not care too much about thoughts of rebellion. It prefers to use television to numb the minds of the population and it will gladly burn the opposition to reach this goal, be they books or humans.
In short, both societies are desensitised, with governments that control the people through the control of the flow of information and a system whereby deviants are simply marked down and eliminated. However, the novels are noticeably different on a fine level, from the writer’s perspective to the book’s atmosphere.
Apart from anything else, 1984 can also be considered a sort of satirical romance, whereas Fahrenheit 451 has no real element of romance whatsoever. It involves an inner conflict and occasionally uses Montag’s wife as a McGuffin, while in 1984 Julia’s relationship is the act of rebellion in itself.
The setting is in fact post-nuclear war for both books (“We’ve started and won two atomic wars since 2022”, “when the atom bomb was dropped on Coventry”), though of course the effects these wars have had on the respective settings of both books is very different.
For example, in Fahrenheit 451, the USA has emerged from at least two wars victorious and eventually embroils itself in another one, causing the obliteration of at least one of its cities (“City looks like a heap of baking powder”).
On the contrary, in 1984 the nuclear war has stopped any further use of atomic weapons and in fact has ensured the dictatorships will remain stable forever. The idea behind this is a possible reference to the theory of mutually-assured destruction, or MAD for short.
The focus, it is to be noted, of Fahrenheit 451 is that of a silent revolution going on outside the vision of the government, whereas in 1984 it is that of a depressed world where there is no ‘outside the vision of the government’, because the government sees and knows all.
As well as this, there is the character of O’brien, seen as an intelligent, powerful and utterly invincible zealot, who is seen as the primary antagonist of the novel, contrasted with Beatty, a disillusioned but ultimately expendable character, killed off by Montag at the end of the book.
The government, although occasionally referred to in either novel, remains largely a mystery in Fahrenheit 451, but in 1984its structure is well-explained and understood; in fact, the inner workings of Smith’s rulers is key to the plot of the book.
In conclusion, I will re-state my earlier point that the two books have many fine, inconspicuous differences that nonetheless very much separate them under close examination. Therefore, one can safely say they are very different novels while at the same time putting them in the same category.
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Fahrenheit 451 And 1984 - The Fear Of Utopia Essay
1237 Words5 Pages
Several conflicting frames of mind have played defining roles in shaping humanity throughout the twentieth century. Philosophical optimism of a bright future held by humanity in general was taken advantage of by the promise of a better life through sacrifice of individuality to the state. In the books Brave New World, 1984, and Fahrenheit 451 clear opposition to these subtle entrapments was voiced in similarly convincing ways. They first all established, to varying degrees of balance, the atmosphere and seductiveness of the “utopia” and the fear of the consequences of acting in the non-prescribed way through character development. A single character is alienated because of their inability to conform – often in protest to the forced…show more content…
When these and other questions weigh upon his mind he begins to realize that something is fundamentally wrong with the world he is living in. In Brave New World the main character, Bernard, is set apart from society by physical differences, which, in a society of ‘engineered’ people is extremely inhibiting. It is these ‘defects’ which cause him to look for a deeper meaning than the drug induced happiness forced upon him. These characters, although alienated in the novels, are believable and rational. The acts of their questioning in their search for the truth and real emotion persuade the reader to do the same thing. It is in this manner that the utility of these novels becomes apparent; through the demands they make of the reader personally - a superior social commentary, one that demands interaction, is born.
The characters’ struggles to hide their newly found individuality is a futile one. In Orwell’s interpretation of the totalitarian state of 1984, the society is technically and urbanly engineered to spy on and perceive people’s very thoughts. The society justifies these invasions by eliminating the importance of the individual. The constant barrage of information regarding the greatness of the state and Big Brother’s supremacy over the common man forces everyone (in good mental health) to accept these as the only unchanging facts. Any deviation from these beliefs would be immediately noticeable, and