198451: The Year Of The Salamander

1869 words - 7 pages

198451: The Year of the Salamander

When comparing the masterpieces of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 the astute reader is immediately able to see a minimum of two recurring themes in both of them. “Orwell had produced an imaginative treatise of totalitarianism, cutting across all ideologies, warning of the threat to humanity should any government, of whatever political complexion, assume absolute power” (Nineteen Eighty-Four 12). Meanwhile Bradbury described the horrors of a society that became a totalitarian regime through the Firemen who attempted to control the ability of thought. Both of these structures depended on limiting the thought of the citizens either through Newspeak in which the undesirable thoughts could not be expressed or by destroying access to all previous insight forcing people to rely only on their own insights while at the same time discouraging them from having any. Captain Beatty tells Montag of society’s ideal, “We must all be alike. Not everyone is born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal” (Bradbury 58). Bradbury guarded against the burning of the collective knowledge of man by pointing out the reasoning through Beatty, “With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word ‘intellectual,’ of course, became the swear word it deserved to be. You always dread the unfamiliar.... Breach man’s mind. Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man?” (58).

Orwell’s main concern with the destruction of literature was the resulting loss of an external reality in which people could communicate and preserve a memory. The power of the Party depended upon mutability of the past, “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past” (Orwell 204). This destruction of any written record which was Winston’s occupation at the Ministry of Truth prevented an absolute reality. After Winston had proof of the Party lying, he destroyed it. Later O’Brien confronted him with this photograph and then destroyed that one as well, proceeding to deny that he remembered it ever having existed. To the Thought Police, even acknowledging the previous existence of an unperson was Thought Crime. The Party depended on this forced trust in what the Party proclaimed to be true to maintain power, the “boot stamping on a human face-- forever” (220).

The second theme of reality versus appearance is a perfect subject for doublethink. Training yourself not to perceive reality but only the appearance the Party wanted you to believe in was something required of all good Party comrades. Slogans created by the Party were a collection of paradoxes while the Party insisted they made perfect sense. “WAR IS PEACE - FREEDOM IS SLAVERY - IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH” were all slogans aimed at repressing the natural yearnings of humans...

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