Metaphor is a comparison done on the basis of similarity or resemblance of two or more objects. Ray Bradbury’s dystopian novel, Fahrenheit 451, is flushed with figurative language. This Buzzle piece lists out examples of metaphors in Fahrenheit 451 across all its parts.
Something for the writers!
The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies. ― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
One of the most fascinating aspects of proficient literature is the use of figurative language. An image is created in the reader’s mind, something beyond the obvious, something beyond its literal meaning. Ray Douglas Bradbury, master of the craft of metaphor, is an American science-fiction writer, best known for his classic tale Fahrenheit 451, who uses slews of figurative statements in his books.
His work ensures literary devices such as similes, metaphors, personification, allusion, etc. Today, we would focus on metaphors in Fahrenheit 451.
Examples of Metaphor in Fahrenheit 451
Part One | The Hearth and the Salamander
Her face was slender and milk-white, and in it was a kind of gentle hunger that touched over everything with tireless curiosity.
▶ This is a simple form of metaphor where the character’s face has been compared to whiteness of milk by the author.
With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history.
▶ In these lines, the hose is indirectly being colligated to (the venom of) a python snake. But there’s more to it than what meets the eye. Python being the world’s longest snake has its technique of killing its prey by silently squeezing it, and not by spitting venom out. So the “python” metaphor is interestingly ambiguous. May be the author wants to convey the power of a snake, i.e., hose.
Her face, turned to him now, was fragile milk crystal with a soft and constant light in it.
▶ This example of metaphor compares Clarisse’s face to a pale white crystal. Before even Clarrise is being introduced, her personality is evidently very reflective, just like a crystal. Also, she emits light of her own, meaning she has her unique set of rules to lead life, like the crystal would reflect light. So, this statement accentuates both her appearance and her personality.
Part Two | The Sieve and the Sand
Maybe the books can get us half out of the cave. They just might stop us from making the same damn insane mistakes!
▶ This metaphor exemplifies the differences between Montag and Mildred. He craves for realism, while on the contrary, she is content and happy with fictional matter. Montag expresses his exhaustion of ignorant people and all materialistic things, and thinks that may be books can be ‘something’ that would help him improve his mistake, something that has substance.
Light the first page, light the second page. Each becomes a black butterfly. Beautiful, eh? Light the third page from the second and so on, chain-smoking, chapter by chapter, all the silly things the words mean, all the false promises, all the second-hand notions and time-worn philosophies.
▶ Here, Bradbury is equating the burnt, black pages of the book to a swarm of black butterflies. Butterflies (moths) are free to flutter around, but here, they have been killed, which ends their freedom just like burning of books (paper) would end freedom of thought.
So now do you see why books are hated and feared? They show the pores in the face of life.
▶ Books reveal the ugly side of society and unveil untold realities of life. People like fiction―nonporous faces, flawless skin, which is far away from reality, which is compared to books for the same reason.
Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were headed for shore.
▶ Faber is enunciating the Guy to do his bit because everything makes a difference. Don’t let results let you down; success or failure is not in our hands. What matters is the saving that we do, and not the outcome. Here, the good deeds are being compared to the shore.
Our civilization is flinging itself to pieces. Stand back from the centrifuge.
▶ Human civilization is being compared to a centrifuge ’cause it seems to destroy itself. He’s asking to stay away from this mass of destruction, as he realizes the need to rebuild a new society.
Those who don’t build must burn. It’s as old as history and juvenile delinquents.
▶ Here, he’s comparing people who don’t contribute anything to bettering our society to history and juvenile delinquents. He’s asking them to burn if they cannot build, since usually the harshest critics are the ones who do nothing about it.
Part Three | Burning Bright
There was a silly damn bird called a Phoenix back before Christ: every few hundred years he built a pyre and burned himself up. He must have been first cousin to Man. But every time he burnt himself up he sprang out of the ashes, he got himself born all over again. And it looks like we’re doing the same thing, over and over, but we’ve got one damn thing the Phoenix never had. We know the damn silly thing we just did.
▶ Through these lines, Granger is comparing Phoenix to humans. Like, the Phoenix inadvertently burns and is reborn because that is its nature, humans too follow this cycle of death and rebirth―the only difference is that they do it knowingly by getting involved in things like war, burning books of knowledge, destroying history, etc.