Problems with modern society english literature essay

KemperOttoville High SchoolInformation and Problems with Modern SocietyRyan KemperEnglish 11Mr KnodellJanuary 25, 2013Information and Problems With Modern Society” We have an opportunity for everyone in the world to have access to all the world’s information. This has never before been possible. Why is ubiquitous information so profound? It’s a tremendous equalizer. Information is power” (Schmidt). In the 21st century, it is so easy to gain information about anything we could ever want to learn about. Imagine a day when everything that we had access to was carefully moderated and censored. That is what Ray Bradbury wrote about in the book Fahrenheit 451 – the Temperature at Which Book Paper Catches Fire, and Burns. Fahrenheit 451 is a novel about an American society set in the future. Books are illegal in this society, and since houses are fireproofed, it is the job of the firemen to burn any house that contains them. Guy Montag is the main character of the book and he is a fireman. He is perfectly content with his life until one day on the way to work, he meets Clarisse, a 17 year old girl who begins to challenge his way of thinking, and sparks him to dig deeper in life and find out more about the world, and himself. As we follow him through the novel, we find that he is keeping books, reading and memorizing them, while his wife, Mildred, who represents the rest of society, sits in the TV parlor with her ” family”, which is really just the characters of a TV show with one line missing that she says to make her feel more part of the story. Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 to bring our attention to issues in modern society that include promoting ignorance by censorship, the unfilling role of technology, and the problems with modern day social interactions.” There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches” (Bradbury 165). As people, we all try to be the best we can be. With knowledge, we can have a head start on someone else, and therefore, more power over them. The Nazi book burnings drove Bradbury to write Fahrenheit 451. ” The burnings . . . are a way of censorship.” When you burn information, you are preventing others from getting it, and therefore, censoring it. They pushed for getting rid of anything ‘ un-German’, so they burned any books that were written by non-German authors, and therefore, were impure. German university students led this revolution and among the early Nazi movement. As time went on, many of these students found themselves as some of the highst ranking Nazi’s. Even if they don’t know what they are doing. This is very comparable to Montag being a fireman, only because it has been in his family for years. There are many reasons why one could think that we no longer need books, and therefore should just get rid of them. They are primarily used for entertainment, and with all the new technology we have, they are obsolete in that aspect. Books also ” contradict themselves, . . . none of the books agree with one another, . . . [and you can] use them to make absolutely contradictory points.” They never have one stable meaning.” Individuals and institution are mesmerized by the wonders of modern technology . . . we have come to believe that every problem has a technological solution” (carpa 229 qtd in . . ) Every Problem that we have, there is a solution, or believe that we can find a technology to solve that problem. Technology in Bradbury’s time was the TV. Now, “[technology has grown to] not only [be] regarded as the ultimate problem solver but is also seen as determining our lifestyles, our social organizations, and our value systems.” Mildred uses her ” little Seashells, the thimble radios” every night. She can’t even sleep without them. The ” social and human impact of technology” is prevalent throughout the book as well. For example, the mechanical hound would monitor suspected book readers and bring the offenders to justice when the ” four-inch hollow steel needle plunged down from the proboscis of the Hound to inject massive jolts of morphine” to subdue a subversive book readerTechnology is also ” beginning to mediate our social relationships . . . The internet, telephone and various other forms of electronic/human augmentation have become ‘ essential’ for social life in” our highly social networked world. As new things come out, we always have to have the latest and greatest technology. For example. ” Wasn’t there an old joke about the wife who talked so much on the telephone that her desperate husband ran out to the nearest store and telephoned her to ask what was for dinner? Why learn anything save pressing buttons, pulling switches, fitting nuts and bolts” If it [television] had been initially created to provide a reflection of the outside world, the threat to domestic existence really began when it became more true than reality, blurring the boundaries between fact and fiction. The implication was that its audience could easily be manipulated by the medium, and therefore the history of television advertising became an important industry in itself.” Everyone wanted a television. Bradbury envisioned a society in the future where all people do is watch TV. Mildred said, ” It’ll be even more fun when we can afford to have the fourth wall installed.” She is talking about her television walls. Getting the fourth wall installed will completely block her into her ” show.” When Montag asks if “[she] will turn the parlour off, she replies, ‘ That’s my family.’” As a term of any meaning and significance, ” family” has gone by the wayside in this world. Montag has already admitted that he might not cry if his wife died, and Mildred’s girlfriends later say the same of their husbands. By this definition of family – as a relationship without emotion or love – the TV characters actually do fit the bill. Technology has replaced actual human contact for Mildred, just as it has for most of the city’s population. 2-60The third, and final problem with modern society is our social interactions. Now, even more than in the 1950’s, we all deal with having enough time, looking for more meaning to our lives, and interacting socially with others rather than keeping to ourselves. Eddie Cantor said, ” Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.” The world is moving at breakneck speed. Information is overflowing 24 hours a day. At work or in school we are busy, busy, busy. Lunch is wolfed down. When we get home there is still so much to do, so much we want before finally falling into the bed. Sometimes this works fine. Sometimes this can cause problem, feelings like it’s all just too much and like you are not in control. When Montag talked to Clarisse, he thought it was strange for her to ” like to smell things and look at things, and sometimes stay up all night, walking, and watch the sunrise.” She also said, ” No one has time anymore for anyone else. You’re one of the few who put up with me.” When she tries to explain some of the things she does to Montag, he never understands. ” Its just that [he] hasn’t had time.” Clarisse challenges his most deeply ingrained beliefs with her innocent questioning. She removes Montag’s mask of happiness, forcing him to confront the deeper reality of his situation. At the end of the book, when Montag is reciting the part of the Bible he is supposed to have memorized, it is this specific verse: ” To everything there is a season. Yes. A time to break down, and a time to build up. Yes. A time to keep silence, and a time to speak.” The idea of looking for more in life than just going through the motions is not a new concept. In fact, it is been around even in biblical times with the story of the Samariatan woman: So he [Jesus] came to a town in Samaria called Sychar. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ” Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)The Samaritan woman said to him, ” You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)Jesus answered her, ” If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”” Sir,” the woman said, ” you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?” Jesus answered, ” Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, ” Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” He told her, ” Go, call your husband and come back.”” I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, ” You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” In this parable, Jesus talks about two different ” waters.” One, the regular H2O kind, and another ” living water” When he talks of the ” living water”, he is talking about a relationship with God. http://www. everystudent. com/journeys/now. html As Montag realizes the emptiness in his life, he begins to search for meaning in the books he is supposed to be burning. This is where the idea of looking for more than just water, but a relationship with someone, or something else out there comes into play. In Beatty and Montag’s quotes dual, Beatty says, ” Give a man a few lines of verse and he thinks he’s the Lord of all Creation. You think you can walk on water with your books. Well, the world can get along just fine without them.” This shows Bradbury’s strong devotion to the bible. Throughout the book, he continually makes allusions to the Bible. The final issue Bradbury shows is how modern society members interact with one another. In this futuristic society, it is strange for a group of people to just sit down and talk. Clarisse demonstrates her beliefs once again when she talks about how “[she doesn’t] think it’s social to get a bunch of people together and then not let them talk.” She gets these beliefs from her uncle; her uncle contributes that “[It] is the age of the disposable tissue. Blow your nose on a person, wad them up, flush them away, reach for another, blow and, flush.” This means that people are using others to their own advantage. And when those others are of no more use, you dispose of them, never to see or interact with again. Mildred, Montag’s wife, would rather to just not think. To just agree with her husband in whatever he thinks. .) This becomes more difficult for her to do when he becomes more interested in books and finally causes her to leave him after he reads poetry to her friends and her.(faber) current state of society is due to the cowardice of people like himself, who would not speak out against book burning when they still could have stopped it2-50Montag’s wife Mildred on the other hand prefers not to have to think, but rather to allow others to think for her to simply say ” yes I agree.” (” Fahrenheit 451 – A Structured and Censored World.” 123HelpMe. com. 22 Jan 2013 .)To conclude, the main problems with modern society are promoting ignorance by censorship, the unfilling role of technology, and the problems with modern day social interactions. Burning books are a way of censorship because that is preventing others from gaining the information in those books. Even though technology can be used to make our own lives easier, make us able to get more information, and communicate with people around the world, we must be careful. Technology can be a dangerous thing if it starts to disrupt the way we think about ourselves, others and moral ideas. Finally, because of this technology, we should still interact with people. It is human nature to interact with one another, and we must continue, and expand that with our technological capabilities. The direction our society was headed in the fifties is different than now, but still the same in many ways. ” There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.” We are now in the Social Media age of Facebook and Twitter. This technology allows us to communicate with others, but we have to use it to our advantage. Just because we have this great ” Problem Solver”, we can’t abuse it, or use it for evil. We must ” build a mirror factory . . . [and] take a long look in them.” Look at ourselves and the way we behave as humans. We must make sure we are doing what is right, and not something that will hurt ourselves, or prevent generations in the future. Especially by withholding information, or burning books.