A writer uses figurative language to develop the story and make it more interesting and effective. Fahrenheit 451 is one such example, authored by Ray Bradbury. This Penlighten post lists out figurative language examples in Fahrenheit 451.
What is Figurative Language?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, figurative language means, “a language used with a meaning that is different from the basic meaning and that expresses an idea in an interesting way by using language that usually describes something else.”
Figurative language uses words in an imaginative manner. It allows the writer to use more creativity in his writing. It should not be taken in the literal sense. The creativity helps the reader to visualize what the writer has written, which leads to a better understanding. It reveals different meanings of the words than their literal ones. Figurative language can be used for dramatic effect as well.
Ray Bradbury’s dysotopian novel Fahrenheit 451 uses figurative language to make the story of a firefighter Montag more striking. The story is set in a future American society where firefighters are appointed to burn all the books because the books are now considered evil as they make people think. The book follows Montag and his rebel against the “book-burning.”
Bradbury has used different types of figurative language in Fahrenheit 451 such as simile, metaphor, personification, allusion, etc. Here are a few examples of the various figurative languages used in this novel.
Bradbury uses similes in Fahrenheit 451 to enrich a reader’s experience of the novel. The whole novel is filled with examples of beautiful similes.
► The electric thimble moved like a praying mantis on the pillow, touched by her hand.
► Her face was like a snow-covered island upon which rain might fall.
► A book alighted, almost obediently, like a white pigeon, in his hands, wings fluttering.
► He wore his happiness like a mask and the girl had run off across the lawn with the mask and there was no way of going to knock on her door and ask for it back.
► She was beginning to shriek now, sitting there like a wax doll melting in its own heat.
► The stars poured over his sight like flaming meteors.
► The men lay gasping like fish laid out on the grass.
► There was only the girl walking with him now, her face bright as snow in the moonlight, and he knew she was working his questions around, seeking the best answers she could possibly give.
► The night I kicked the pill-bottle in the dark, like kicking a buried mine.
Metaphors in Fahrenheit 451 are used to accentuate the writer’s points. Here are a few examples from the novel.
► He wanted above all, like the old joke, to shove a marshmallow on a stick in the furnace, while the flapping pigeon-winged books died on the porch and lawn of the house.
► With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world.
► A fountain of books sprang down upon Montag as he climbed shuddering up the sheer stair-well.
► Her face was slender and milk-white, and in it was a kind of gentle hunger that touched over everything with tireless curiosity.
► Her face, turned to him now, was fragile milk crystal with a soft and constant light in it.
► And then he came to the parlour where the great idiot monsters lay asleep with their white thoughts and their snowy dreams.
► “Kerosene,” he said, because the silence had lengthened, “is nothing but perfume to me.”
► Out of the black wall before him, a whisper. A shape. In the shape, two eyes. The night looking at him. The forest, seeing him.
(A wall is attributed with human features like eyes. In addition, the night and forest provides the ability to see.)
► He smelled the heavy musk-like perfume mingled with blood and the gummed exhalation of the animal’s breath, all cardamom and moss and ragweed odor in this huge night where the trees ran at him, pulled away, ran, pulled away, to the pulse of the heart behind his eyes.
(Trees are personified with the ability to run and pull away.)
► The books leapt and danced like roasted birds, their wings ablaze with red and yellow feathers.
(Books are said to have bird-like qualities.)
► The train radio vomited upon Montag, in retaliation, a great ton-load of music made of tin, copper, silver, chromium, and brass.
(According to the writer, the train can vomit just like a person.)
► One drop of rain. Clarisse. Another drop. Mildred. A third. The uncle. A fourth. The fire tonight. One, Clarisse. Two, Mildred. Three, uncle. Four, fire, One, Mildred, two, Clarisse. One, two, three, four, five, Clarisse, Mildred, uncle, fire, sleeping-tablets, men, disposable tissue, coat-tails, blow, wad, flush, Clarisse, Mildred, uncle, fire, tablets, tissues, blow, wad, flush. One, two, three, one, two, three! Rain. The storm. The uncle laughing. Thunder falling downstairs. The whole world pouring down.
(Rain drops fire, sleeping-tablets, tissue, etc., are compared with the characters of the novel.)
► “I am Plato’s Republic. Like to read Marcus Aurelius? Mr. Simmons is Marcus.”
(Allusion to Marcus Aurelius, Plato, and Plato’s Republic)
► “It’s fine work. Monday bum Millay, Wednesday Whitman, Friday Faulkner, burn ’em to ashes, then bum the ashes. That’s our official slogan.”
(Allusion to Edna St. Vincent Millay, Walt Whitman, and William Faulkner)
► “Well,” said Beatty, “now you did it. Old Montag wanted to fly near the sun and now that he’s burnt his damn wings, he wonders why. . . .”
(Allusion to Icarus’s story)
► All isn’t well with the world.
(Allusion to Robert Browning’s Pippa Passes)
► ‘Sweet food of sweetly uttered knowledge,’ Sir Philip Sidney said.
(Allusion to Sidney’s The Defense of Poetry)
► ‘Truth will come to light, murder will not be hid long!’
(Allusion to Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice)
► The people whose mouths had been faintly twitching the words Dentifrice Dentifrice Dentifrice.
► The people who had been sitting a moment before, tapping their feet to the rhythm of Denham’s Dentifrice, Denham’s Dandy Dental Detergent, Denham’s Dentifrice Dentifrice Dentifrice, one two, one two three, one two, one two three.
► They walked still further and the girl said, “Is it true that long ago firemen put fires out instead of going to start them?”
(It is ironic how the role of a firefighter has changed in the novel.)
► “She’s nothing to me; she shouldn’t have had books. It was her responsibility, she should have
thought of that. I hate her. She’s got you going and next thing you know we’ll be out, no house, no job, nothing.”
(Millie was worried about how Montag might cause their downfall. However in reality, it was she who causes their life to be miserable.)
► Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man? Me? I won’t stomach them for a minute.
(In the sentence, Captain Beatty feels that he might be the target of “well-read” men. However, in reality, Montag becomes the target of “well-read” Beatty.)
► Now, sucking all the night into his open mouth, and blowing it out pale, with all the blackness left heavily inside himself, he set out in a steady jogging pace. The writer is exaggerating by saying he can such the night.)
► “Classics cut to fit fifteen-minute radio shows, then cut again to fill a two-minute book column, winding up at last as a ten- or twelve-line dictionary resume. I exaggerate, of course. . . .”
(The writer accepts that he exaggerates.)
► The train hissed to its stop.
► “Speed up the film, Montag, quick. Click? Pic? Look, Eye, Now, Flick, Here, There, Swift, Pace, Up, Down, In, Out, Why, How, Who, What, Where, Eh? Uh! Bang! Smack! Wallop, Bing, Bong, Boom!…”
The novel is filled with figurative language, which makes it much more interesting to read. We hope that these examples will surely enrich your reading experience of Fahrenheit 451.