3 December 2017
The use of self-reflection in Fahrenheit 451
Thesis: Bradbury uses the characters by way of self-reflection to progress Montag from mindless
conformity to active participating individual.
I. Montag’s relationship with Clarisse
A. Montag comes to know his world through Clarisse (Grossman 135)
1. Montag’s own identity
2. How he feels around her
II. Montag’s relationship with Millie
A. The representation of Millie
1. Millie’s important to Montag’s identity
III. Good vs. Evil
A. Professor Faber
B. Captain Beatty
IV. The final metamorphosis for Montag’s character development
A. Reading of poetry to Millie and her friends
V. End of Montag’s journey
A. What does this mean for his identity
Bradbury has developed Montag’s character from passive to engaging citizen.
The Use of Self-Reflection in Fahrenheit 451
Character development can come from the society in which one lives and it can also
come from a self-actualization in response to different situations. In Fahrenheit 451, Ray
Bradbury creates a society in which many people are passive to ideas and therefore, they live
blindly; they do not seek to be freethinkers of the world. Bradbury creates a dystopian society, a
society that is under authoritative control, yet he emphasizes the use of freethinking through an
internal character conflict. It is this internal character conflict, which is ultimately fulfilled and
resolved by way of serious self-reflection, that promotes an exchange of thoughts and
alternatives to society. Although, self-reflection is crucial to character development, it is not
complete without the aid of many characters throughout the novel. Through the presentation of
several characters throughout the novel, these characters serve as reflections from the main
character’s mind, which are tantamount to the unfolding of the main character’s identity.
Bradbury carefully uses each character(s) as a reflection to unfold the protagonist’s identity from
mindless conformity to an active participant in society.
Guy Montag, a “fireman”, lives in a dystopian society, a society in which perfect control
is maintained through complete authority, loss of human privileges and totally unpleasant to live
in. The first glimpse of Montag’s identity can be seen after a book burning. After returning to the
firehouse and going to sleep later that night “he would feel the fire smile still gripped by his face
muscles, in the dark” (Bradbury 2). Montag’s permanent smile, which is displayed while
sleeping, shows his blind level of satisfaction, lack of self-awareness and consciousness to the
world around him.
To draw out Montag’s identity, Bradbury introduces Clarisse as a vehicle to spark
Montag’s identity development. Upon initially meeting her, Bradbury uses the metaphor of a
mirror to “begin reflecting truths that Montag would not...