Fahrenheit 451

The Theme of Self-Destruction in Ray Bradbury's 'Fahrenheit 451'

A wife overdoses on medication, much to the distress of her husband; a woman watches as the room in which she stands is doused in kerosene before she takes it upon herself to strike the first match; a Fire Captain hands a flame-thrower to one of his subordinates and orders him to aim it at him - at the Captain himself - and pull the trigger. These three suicide attempts - one successful, one not so, and the other enacted as a murder - embody the theme of self-destruction that runs throughout Ray Bradbury's 'Fahrenheit 451', and each of them represents a different facet of that theme: involuntary self-destruction, voluntary self-destruction, and voluntary self-destruction in order to pre-empt an involuntary self-destruction. Mildred Montag's overdose implies a dissatisfaction with the world as it is, and a desire to escape into something less real, more passive, an indirect and involuntary kind of self-destruction; the old woman's voluntary death entails an immense satisfaction with the world that is taken from her, and no desire whatsoever to live a life without some element of that world in it; and Captain Beatty's death at the hands of Guy Montag represents a combination of both of the above - a man...

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