Fahrenheit 451 is a novel with the Symbolism of Fire as a theme. When you read the respective novel, you get to know about how the fire represents the different aspects and scenarios around.
This novel by Ray Bradbury elaborates on the concept of knowledge and how fire represents the same. The character Montag is a young firefighter, and he is located at a place where the use of books is fully banned. As and when the government finds out about his love for books, they make sure that it is burned right away.
As and when Montag finds out about this law, she questions the same and battles society. This leads to the result of underground resistance to keep the knowledge and self-awareness preserved. In the novel, you get to learn about several symbols, but there is nothing more important than fire because of the underlying meaning it holds.
The Symbolism of Fire in Fahrenheit 451 is important in understanding the novel's themes. The main symbol of fire, or "heat," is a destructive force. The firemen in the book enjoy burning books, and they are supposed to do so to keep society free of harmful knowledge. But in reality, they are only protecting society from a threatening environment, and their actions destroy people's ideas and identities.
You might have seen that the government gets the book burned if it's against their understanding or destroys social circumstances. But, it is important for them to understand that burning books is also acknowledged as a political act. When it comes to the phoenix, it symbolizes that knowledge has taken rebirth. While you go through the respective novel, you understand the different references to candlelight when Montag thinks about the character Clarisse.
Not only this, when he is burned amidst books. The phoenix is acknowledged as the lion's opposite. When you read the novel, you get to understand that fire is also considered to represent a form of knowledge as well. When it comes to knowledge, it is basically a catalyst that is used by people to bring change.
Throughout history, fire has always been acknowledged as a knowledge symbol. You might check out several novels when the main characters get to know something new. It is represented through the fire within. In Fahrenheit 451, the term fire is considered in the form of knowledge that is used for the purpose of saving the world.
But, there is a lot more to it. Let's check it out.
Fire is certainly one of the most unique and interesting segments in the novel Fahrenheit 451. The fire symbolizes two unique elements. Take a look at what they are:
But, there is one more aspect that represents the term fire all through the respective novel, and that is the loss of freedom. Let's assess the role of fire as knowledge and destroyer in precise to get a better understanding of what it symbolizes. Let's get started.
Fire as Destroyer
In the novel, you might find out how books and houses are burnt to pieces using fire. When you go through the book, you might find out how the firefighters are putting in efforts to get rid of all the books and burn them. They are making sure that all the books are destroyed. They wear a helmet with the number 451, which represents the temperature that is required to burn the respective books. In the end, not only does the fire end up destroying physical property but also the rights that one can think of differently.
Everyone would like to express or live the way they want. This shouldn't be a problem until and unless it harms someone violently. But, there is no right for one to curb or restrict ideas by burning them down. This shows how freedom is lost, and this brings nothing but destruction.
While you read the novel, there is a line by Captain Beatty that goes, "We must all be alike. . . So! A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon."
This shows how a book can help everyone to have access to information that allows them to think by themselves and uniquely. But, burning them down means restricting them from expressing themselves. There is no freedom whatsoever. They are curbing any kind of freethinking by burning down the books that help people think differently.
Fire As Knowledge
The next important aspect that has been elaborated on in the respective novel is all about how fire represents the term knowledge. Fire means knowledge and self-awareness as well. In the beginning only, when the firefighters enter the property to get all the books burned, she finds it difficult to leave the house. So decides to burn herself as well. The books mean freedom and independence. And leaving them is more like giving up on yourself. So, she lighted herself as well in the process.
As per mythology, fire also means rebirth or stepping into a new life. It is certainly one of the main aspects of the book that shows how one jumps to new life to keep her freedom and expression of speech. Undoubtedly fire is the most important aspect of the novel, and the actions reflect how fire symbolizes knowledge and how it helps one express their innest desires.
This shows how the use of fire in the novel comes with different implications and meanings. From being termed as a metaphor for destruction to the source of knowledge, it is all more than you think of. Explore the book to unfold the meaning in depth.
Bradbury, Ray.Fahrenheit 451. Ed. Book Club. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967. <http://lhsblogs.typepad.com/files/complete-text.pdf>.
Varner, Gary. “Fire Symbolism in Myth and Religion.” AuthorsDen, 2009. Web. 12 July 2014. <http://www.authorsden.com/categories/article_top.asp?catid=62&id=43114>.
Author: Edward Carey
Profile: English Litterature & Assignment Writing Analyst
Designation : Professor At Texas University