The Dangers Of Totalitarianism Essay

2429 words - 10 pages

After World War I, which led to the overthrow of several monarchs and a complete reshaping of Europe, the political landscape of Europe began to change. Totalitarian fascists, such as Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Benito Mussolini, of Germany, The Soviet Union, and Italy, rose to power. These leaders created an atmosphere of fear in their respective countries. The only people who were safe were the ones that did not protest at all and just let the dictators lead. Hitler’s rise to power led to World War II, where including the Holocaust, approximately sixty million people died. Sixty million people died, while millions of others silently watched in fear, and in hopes of surviving the genocide. This forever changed the landscape of Europe. The period after World War II consisted of mass hysteria, partly due to the war-torn continent, and partly due to of the rise of communism. In response to this era marked by extreme war and violence, arts and literature boomed; partly to document the era, and party to serve as a reminder of what happened. The totalitarian government in 1984, by George Orwell, and the fireman in Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, show how people can be controlled by fear instilled by the government, and as a result, how society is negatively impacted, through the complete lack of relationships and personal identity.
While the Nazi secret police (The Gestapo) terrorized society, the firemen served as the symbol of fear in Fahrenheit 451. In the book’s society, any form of reading or owning books was strictly outlawed, and in a violent society where death was not feared, was the most heinous crime to commit. Due to the severity of the crime and harsh repercussions, the people very rarely broke the rule of owning books because they knew that the firemen would burn their house down and the mechanical hound would hunt them down. The protagonist of the novel, Montag, was a fellow firemen, burning down houses filled with books without a second thought. However, after his upbeat and odd neighbor, Clarisse, interrogates him, Montag starts to see the world differently. His new perspective inspires him to question his fellow colleagues, asking them if the world was always like this. His coworkers tell him that it was always like this, starting with the first fireman, Benjamin Franklin. They then got a call and were sent to a house full of books. One of the inhabitants, a woman, refuses to leave, and, as a result, is burned with the books, severely disturbing Montag (Bradbury 32-40). The firemen served as a reminder of what would happen if someone broke a rule. During the Holocaust, if someone a Jewish person was caught, or someone went against Hitler, they would either be instantly killed, or sent to a concentration camp. In Fahrenheit 451, it was close to the same thing. If someone was caught with a book, their house would be burned down and they would either be killed or arrested. However, a very slim percentage of the population had...

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