Masked Misogyny in Fahrenheit 451 Essay Example
Did Ray Bradbury hate women or was it just the social normalities of the time that created the misogyny in Fahrenheit 451? Bradbury's novel features a futuristic society where firemen start fires rather than putting them out and has an underlying theme of misogyny throughout the story. The main protagonist of the novel is a fireman named Guy Montag who has a housewife named Mildred. It is through the character Mildred that Bradbury makes the reader continually develop contempt and negative prejudices towards women. Bradbury makes the reader have misogynistic thoughts through the actions, description, and words of Mildred.
Firstly, Bradbury uses Mildred's actions to cause the reader to develop a feeling of hate towards women. For example, Bradbury makes Mildred an unlikable character when she “[turns] in the alarm” about the books Guy had concealed in their house (Bradbury 111). When Mildred reports the book to the fire department, the fire department comes to burn the house and the books inside, destroying Guys dream of bringing back books to society. When Mildred opposes the protagonist this makes her an antagonist and an unlikable character. In addition, Mildred reporting Guy, despite him doing someone thing good develops the prejudice that women are righteous rule followers.
Furthermore, Mildred is not very intelligent and does not see the bigger picture or consider other ways of life. For example, Mildred does not even think before attempting to “[seize] a book and [run] towards the kitchen incinerator.”(63). This action makes Mildred seem foolish because she acts rashly and does not open her mind to new ideas or question what she is told, reinforcing stereotypes that women are less intelligent than men. Therefore, using her actions to make Mildred an unlikeable character creates stereotypes of what all women must be like and thus a negative prejudice and hate towards women.
Furthermore, Bradbury describes Mildred in a way that can lead the reader to create a negative opinion of women. The protagonist, Guy says many insulting things about his wife, like that she is a “silly, empty woman.”( 41). Considering that the reader sympathizes with Guy, they are lead to believe what he is saying about his wife. In believing that Mildred is silly and empty, it leads the reader to infer that about other women because it creates a bias in the reader's mind about women. In addition, he says he cannot “talk to his wife anymore; she listens to the walls.”(78). This quote reinforces the idea that Mildred is foolish because she wastes away her time watching television. Throughout the book, while the men work, the women all watch television, making them seem lazy and dislikable. Guys constant description of Mildred as foolish and empty, combined with his hatred for Mildred can lead the reader to believe that disliking women is acceptable because Guy is the hero in the book. Once the reader begins to believe the things Guy tells them about Mildred, they become complicit in misogyny because they have developed a bias and hate towards women.
Moreover, Bradbury uses dialogue to make Mildred and also her friends seem unintelligent and dislikeable, whilst making others seem more intelligent. For Instance, Bradbury makes women seem stupid when Mildred explains that she voted for President Noble because “he’s one of the nicest looking men ever to become president.”( 93). Mildred voting based on looks makes her seem shallow and unintelligent because she does not bother to listen to what they had to say. On the other hand, it can be inferred that Guy is more aware of the two candidates ideas and opinions. When Guys exclaims “what do you know about Hoag and Noble”( 93) this proves that he thinks the women do not know anything about the topic or the significance of politics.
The fact that the women vote based on looks also creates a prejudice towards women for the reader because they seem unintelligent for not understanding politics. It also confirms many stereotypes that women are stupid and do not understand politics. This section also invokes feelings of male superiority because Guy clearly understands more than the seemingly stupid women about their government. The feeling that Guy and all men are superior to women makes the readers complicit in misogyny because they start to think that men are smarter and better than women if such is the case in the book.
In conclusion, Bradbury uses the actions, descriptions, and words of the character Mildred to make the reader complicit in misogyny. He does this thorough invoking feelings of male superiority making women seem folly and detestably foolish. Bradbury's character follows and confirms stereotypes leading the reader to believe that Mildred is an accurate representation of all women. Furthermore, when the reader agrees with Guy and recognizes him as a hero they choose to accept his beliefs as being valid and acceptable meaning that they are allowing themselves to become misogynistic.
Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. Simon and Schuster, 2013.