Though many believe that censorship is Ray Bradbury’s greatest literary device in Fahrenheit
451, but irony should be focused on more. The town that Fahrenheit 451 takes place is surrounded with
censorship, drug abuse, and blind sided people. After technology started to simplify everything about
human’s life, people found books to be to long and tiresome. The public wanted books to become
obsolete, so they hired firemen to burn them, all of them. Irony is __________ ____ ______ ___
_______ __ __ ______ _ __ _ _____ ______ _ ______ _____. Bradbury’s novel most importantly serves
as a lesson in irony, not censorship or technology gone astray.
Guy Montag believes that before firemen burned books, they helped put out fires. To prove
Montag wrong, his coworkers Black and Stoneman take out their “Brief History of Firemen in America”
pamphlets. They read, “Established, 1790, to burn English-influenced books in Colonies. First Fireman:
Benjamin Franklin” (Bradbury 34). This is a type of dramatic irony because the readers know firemen
were taught to put out fires, but these firemen were taught to burn books. Also readers know that
Benjamin Franklin started the first volunteer firemen company in the United States. He made it in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on ______. The readers also know in real life Benjamin Franklin died on April
17, 1790, these firemen were taught that he was the first person to burn books, the year that he died.
Later Montag is afraid to go to work, so Captain Beatty came to Montag’s house to talk to him.
While there, Captain Beatty explains the real history of the firemen to Captain Beatty. “‘And so when
houses were finally fireproofed completely, all over the world (you [Montag] were correct with your
assumption the other night) there was no longer a need of firemen for the old purpose’” (Bradbury 58).
This is an example of situational irony because readers expect that Captain Beatty, the lead book burner,
to not know the actual history of the role of firemen.
Captain Beatty quotes lines from famous books and plays to Montag after he arrives back to the
firehouse. From William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice “‘Devil can site scripture for his
purpose’” (Bradbury 106). Also, from a famous novel by George Herbert, Sir Isaac Newton, and Robert
Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy “ ‘A dwarf on a giant’s shoulders sees the furthest of the
two’”(Bradbury 106). Once again Bradbury uses an example of situational irony because the readers
expect that Captain Beatty would only use book to fuel fire, but readers would not expect him to be able
to recite quotes from novels. MENTION METAPHOR FOR DRAFT THING!!!!! “‘Why don’t you belch
Shakespeare at me, you fumbling snob? ‘there is no terror, Cassius, in your threats, for I am arm’d so
strong in honesty that they pass me in an idle wind, which I respect not!’ How’s that? Go ahead now,
you second-hand litterateur, pull the trigger’” (Bradbury 119). Before Captain Beatty gets burned alive,
he mocks Montag for not being able to quote any Shakespeare even though he is supposed to save the
world with books. Bradbury uses both situational and dramatic irony once again. He uses situational
irony yet again to describe Beatty because the readers would not expect Beatty to quote lines from
Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar while he is looking into the eyes of death. This is also a form of dramatic
irony because the some readers know that the scenario from the quote that Beatty uses, Brutus is being
threatened by Cassius because he believes that he is stronger. The readers can make the connection
that Captain Beatty is being compared to Brutus, while Montag is being compared to Cassius.