Last updated: July 18, 2019
Topic: ArtBooks
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“Do you begin to see, then what kind of world we are creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias…” (Orwell 267). 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 are both dystopias, although in each society, the government tells the citizens that it is a utopia. A dystopia is, “An imaginary place or state in which the condition of life is extremely bad, as from deprivation, oppression or terror” (“dystopia”). On the other hand, a utopia is described as, “An ideally perfect place, especially in its social, political, and moral aspects” (“utopia”).

There are many similarities between the society in 1984 and the society in Fahrenheit 451, as well as many differences. The most obvious characteristics of a dystopian society are the restriction of information and history, independent thought, and freedom (Wright). In 1984, information is restricted because whenever something doesn’t go the Party’s way, they just change the facts. Winston’s job is to edit people and events from history. He explains to Julia how frustrated he is: Already we know all most literally nothing about the Revolution and the years before the Revolution.

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Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, every date has been altered…After the thing is done, no evidence ever remains. The only evidence is inside my own mind. (Orwell 155) The society of 1984 could never be very successful because history is a key factor in running a country. When one studies history, they learn not do make the same mistakes as others have made. If one does not know the mistakes previously made, then they will continue to make the same mistakes and make no progress.

An example of how the Party changes facts is when Winston is given the assignment to replace a man named Withers from all documents. Withers had some how disgraced the Party and the Party didn’t want people to think that such a disgraceful man could have been a member of the party. Winston replaced Withers and his name with an imaginary character named Comrade Ogilvy. From that point on, Withers never existed. 1984 is based on a totalitarian government which means the Party has say over everything. After Winston is caught being disloyal to the Party, he is taken to the Ministry of Love.

There he is tortured by O’Brian who is trying to get Winston to become sane again. O’Brian tells Winston, “Reality is not external. Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else. Not in the individual mind…only in the mind of the Party which is collective and immortal. Whatever the Party holds to be truth is truth” (Orwell 249). One is not allowed to think for themselves, they must believe what the party says or else they will be tortured. Freedom is completely restricted in 1984’s society. If one does not believe what the Party says, then they are considered insane and taken to the Ministry of Love.

The Party takes advantage of everyone. O’Brian says, “The Party imposed itself most on people incapable of understanding it… they simply swallowed everything” (Orwell 156). The Party doesn’t give the citizens any options. Winston wrote in his diary that being free is being able to say that two plus two makes four. When he arrives at the Ministry of Love, he must say that two plus two equals five and believe it because the Party says that two plus two equals five. If Winston fails to believe that two plus two is equal to five then he is tortured. Independent thought and freedom are restricted in Fahrenheit 451 as well as in 1984.

The people that live in Montag’s society are consumed by the television. They think that the television is superior to everything else. Whatever it says they do. As Montag is trying to escape, the television says, “Everyone in every house in every street open a front or rear door or look from the windows. The fugitive cannot escape if everyone on the next minute looks from his house” (Bradbury 138). That is exactly what everyone does. Bradbury describes it as “grey animals peering from electric caves” (Bradbury 139). The citizens in Fahrenheit 451 aren’t allowed to think for themselves either.

Beatty says to Montag, “If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none” (Bradbury 61). Beatty is saying to just make all the decisions for the people that way everyone will be happy because they don’t know how much better life could be. The society has all of the decisions made for them by the government. Another major characteristic of dystopias is that an object or concept is worshiped (Wright). Big Brother is the leader of the Party in 1984’s society, and in order to remain alive and sane one must respect and love him at all costs.

O’Brian tells Winston, “The time has come for you to love Big Brother. It is not enough to obey him; you must love him” (Orwell 282). Everyone is capable of obeying someone, but it is much harder to love someone. In order to get Winston to love Big Brother, he is tormented with his worst fear just so that he can love an inanimate object. Fahrenheit 451 has the same concept. The people need the government. Faber tells Montag about the legend of Hercules and Antaeus. He says, “If there isn’t something in that legend for us today, in this city, in our time, then I am completely insane” (Bradbury 83).

Faber was correct; there was something in that legend for the society. Without the government and the firemen to burn books and make everything fair, the society would be nothing. The people need someone to watch after them because they don’t know how to look after themselves. In order to be a dystopia, there is normally some kind of constant surveillance within the society. 1984 has telescreens that watch them all the time. Orwell explains how technology has only made life worse for the citizens: In the past no government had the power to keep its citizens under constant surveillance.

The invention of technology, however, made it easier to manipulate public opinion, and the film and the radio carried the process further. With the development of television, and the technical advance which made it possible to receive and transmit simultaneously on the same instrument, private life came to an end. (Orwell 205) The people of this society are being watch during all hours. They aren’t even allowed to have private thoughts because the Thought Police are always around and know what you are thinking. In Fahrenheit 451, there are no machines watching one’s every action, but there is many people living in the society.

In fact Montag says, “There are billions of us and that’s too many” (Bradbury 16). With so many citizens, there is little room for privacy. It is also extremely hard to trust people; Montag’s own wife turned him in. Also, the Mechanical Hound is very sneaky and is always on the lookout. “The Mechanical Hound never fails. Never since its first use in tracking quarry has this incredible invention let us down” (Bradbury 133). When Montag brought out all of his books, he heard something at the door. Someone knew that Montag was hiding something, so they sent the Hound out.

Montag thought that he was safe and alone, but he wasn’t. Most of the time, in a dystopia, the citizens believe that they are living in a utopia. This is the case in both 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. In Winston’s society, the order of freedom is completely wrong. The Inner Party comes after Big Brother followed by the outer party and then the proles. The truth is that the proles have the best life. There are no telescreens in the proles’ homes, and the proles are allowed to love. The Outer Party has the worst life because they are never allowed to turn off their telescreens, whereas the Inner Party can.

So, the Outer Party is constantly being watched and they don’t have any freedom whatsoever. Fahrenheit 451 is mainly about making the people happy. They don’t want anyone to feel discriminated against. In order to do that, the government must let the people feel smart. Beatty tells Montag, “Cram them full of noncombustible data, Chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely brilliant with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change” (Bradbury 61).

What Beatty is saying is to give the people a bunch of useless information so they think they are smart, but in reality, they are not gaining any extra knowledge. Another common characteristic of a dystopia is that the government uses propaganda to control the citizens of a society (Wright). Winston tries to get Julia to understand this concept. “History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right. I know. Of course, that the past is falsified, but it would never be possible for me to prove it, even when, I did the falsification myself” (Orwell 155).

The government forces everyone to accept what they dictate as unchanging facts. In Fahrenheit 451’s society individuality is eliminated and not wanted, which is another important characteristic of a dystopia (Wright). Beatty tells Montag: With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word ‘intellectual,’ of course, became the swear word it deserved to be…We must all be alike not born free and equal as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal.

Each man in the image of the other; then all are happy. (Bradbury 58) An example is Clarisse McClellan. She was bright, talkative, and wanted to know things, but because of her friendliness, she was considered queer. The government wants everyone to be the same because there would be no rebels to have to deal with. In addition to 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 being dystopias, the government wants to have complete control. In doing this, they try to get the people to only think for themselves that way they are not worried about will happen to others in their society. In 1984, the government is torturing

Winston so that he will stop thinking about Julia. The government wants Winston to stop thinking about Julia so he can focus more on himself and not be such a pain for the government to deal with. After Winston is sane again Julia tells him, “They threaten you with something you can’t stand up to…then you say ‘Don’t do it to me, do it to somebody else…At the time when it happens you do mean it…You want it to happen to the other person…All you care about is yourself” (Orwell 292). The Party tortured Winston with his worst fear, and he could only think of betraying Julia to save himself.

In Fahrenheit 451, the government is constantly trying to find ways to make the people happy in order to avoid conflict and problems. When Montag uncovers his stash of books, he begins reading them to Mildred. She is very confused and lost and doesn’t understand anything he is saying except, “That favourite subject, Myself” (Bradbury 72). Another example of this concept is when Montag leaves the gas station when trying to escape, a bunch of kids are driving on the road and try to run Montag over for pure enjoyment. Montag lays down and the kids swerve away only to avoid flipping the car.

Although 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 are both dystopias, there are a few differences within each society. In both 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 there is a war going on, but how the government depicts the war is different. In 1984, there are three countries that are involved in a war: Eurasia, Eastasia, and Oceania. Goldstein explains how the war works. “These three superstates are permanently at war…None of these three superstates could be definitely conquered even by the other two in combination. They are too evenly matched, and their natural defenses are too formidable. ” The war is constantly going on, but not always between the same superstates.

Oceania is always changing allies and opponents, and whenever they do, the government pretends that they have always been on the same side. In Fahrenheit 451, the government tells the people that it is going to be a quick war and that everything will be okay. The government doesn’t want the people to worry and get anxious, so they simply tell the citizens what they want to hear. Mrs. Phelps, one of Mildred’s friends, says, “Quick war. Forty-eight hours, they said. Quick war” (Bradbury 72). The government doesn’t care about the citizens or the war; all they care about is complete rule over the citizens.

Another major difference between 1984’s society and Fahrenheit 451’s society is how they treat love. In 1984, love is not allowed because the citizens are only allowed to love Big Brother. The citizens are allowed to get married, but not for love: All marriages between Party members had to be approved by a committee appointed for the purpose, and…permission was always refused if the couple concerned gave the impression of being physically attracted to one another. The only recognized purpose of marriage was to beget children for the service of the Party. (Orwell 65) Party members could never find true love.

They had to do as the government said, and the government forbade love. On the other hand, the citizens in Fahrenheit 451 were allowed to love, but didn’t know how to love. They don’t appreciate what they already have and want more. Mrs. Phelps said, “Pete and I always said no tears, nothing like that…He said if I get killed off, you just go right ahead and don’t cry, but get married again and don’t think of me. If someone gets married, it is because they really care about the other person, and most of the time that means crying if something bad happens to them, especially dying.

Even though both 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 depict utopias, they clearly are not. The two societies show many examples of how freedom is restricted, how the citizens are constantly being monitored, and how individuality is looked down upon, all of which are characteristics of a dystopia. 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 have other similarities such as in both societies the government wants complete control, but are different in the overall purpose of each society physically and mentally. Eventually, societies like those in 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 get destroyed. “The city looks like a heap of baking powder. It’s gone” (Bradbury 162).