Before World War I, the literary term known as the Utopia emerged. Many people believed that society would be happier if the individual made sacrifices for the “common good”. However, the war changed all of that. Society began to fear governments in which everyone was the same and was ruled by a dictator. Thus, the genre of the dystopian novel emerged. “Dystopian novels show that any attempt at establishing utopia will only make matters much worse.” (Dietz, 1996) Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and 1984 by George Orwell are considered classic examples of this genre by such critics as Frank Dietz, Beaird Glover, and Donald Watt. These distinct novels both warn against utopia through the portrayal of the protagonist begins as part of a society in which the individual is non-existent, come into contact with influences that cause their rebellions, and eventually come into contact with some upper hand of the government.
Bradbury’s dystopia is an unnamed futuristic city sometime in the 24th century. Although many things in today’s world, like houses, cars, and plants, are in this world, there are also many scientific creations. These include fireproof houses, wallscreens, and the Mechanical Hound. Television is totally interactive. As Bradbury describes, a person can spend an entire day perched in front of the screen and not become bored:
“In the other walls an x-ray of the same woman revealed the contracting journey of the refreshing beverage on its way to her delighted stomach! Abruptly the room took off on a rocket flight into the clouds. … A minute later, Three White Cartoon Clowns chopped off each other’s limbs. … Two more minutes and the room whipped out of town to the jet cars wildly circling an arena …”
Doors are programmed to announce visitors before they even arrive. Although these technological innoventions are very unique, the most significant detail about Bradbury’s dystopia is that books are illegal. In essence, mankind is stripped of all information and believes whatever the government feeds them. Mankind has become lazy and stupid because of the excesses of technology and lack of “textured information” (Bradbury, 1953). In fact, the people no longer know how to do simple things because some machines have been designed to do everything. Although many of the larger tasks can be performed by machine, many everyday tasks, such as making breakfast and mowing the lawn, are still performed by humans. As soon as toast pops out of the toaster, it is “seized by a spidery metal hand that [drenches] it with melted butter.” (Bradbury, 1953) Although Bradbury inserts various objects to make his world seem futuristic and exotic, he still gives it a touch of realism that allows the reader to identify with it. In doing so, Bradbury gives a warning that modern day society can easily turn into his world of banality.
In contrast, Orwell’s dystopia is a far more dilapidated one. The dystopia of Fahrenheit 451 is made...