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“Alive but Dead” – Farenheit 451

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  • Pages: 3
  • Word count: 599
  • Category: Novel

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Ray Bradbury uses figurative language in Fahrenheit 451 by using the terms “alive yet not alive” and “dead but not dead.” By using these terms Bradbury is saying that things are alive when they are not, but in reality they are just machines. Bradbury also says things are dead, but really they are alive and human. Bradbury uses the term, “alive yet not alive,” when talking about Mildred. He also uses the term, “dead but not dead,” when talking about the snake that sucked all the fluids out of Mildred and the mechanical dog that the fire department had.

Mildred is “alive yet not alive;” this is an underlying theme that comes up several times within the novel. In Mildred’s case she is alive and breathing, but really she is a dead person in the perspective of natural human action. She is so amused by the three-walled television in the living room because each wall portrays a different member of her family. Each wall talks to her and is very loud which caused her to spend most of her time in the living room. She is too busy with the three walls to do any thing else around the house, such as cooking. There is a machine that cooks for her. “Toast popped out of the silver toaster, was seized by a spidery metal hand that drenched it with melted butter.” This quote shows how Mildred does not cook, but that it is a robot that really does the cooking.

The snake that sucked all the green fluid out of Mildred is “alive yet not alive.” By saying that the machines is “alive yet not alive,” Bradbury is stating the fact that the machine is more alive than most of the people in the novel. You can reason this by looking at what the machine does and what the humans do. The machine has an important role to do; “it drank up the green matter that flowed to the top in a slow boil” in the stomach. The average human does not have a particular role to play. They are just out there doing whatever, like Mildred watching television and listening to their government issued radios.

The firehouse dog is “alive yet not alive.” It moves and acts on what it is told. This mechanical dog is fast and a good hunter. It can track an animal for a long time. The mechanical dog moves as if it was real and acts like a real dog, but really it is just a machine that can be shut of at any time. “Montage touched the muzzle and the hound growled” like a real dog. Then after he walked away the hound went back “to the kennel to die as if a switch had been turned.”

By talking about Mildred and how she does not react to things like a normal human helps depict the underlying theme of “dead but not dead.” In a sense, she is mesmerized by the three-walled television. Therefore, she does not think for herself, and she is controlled like a machine. The figurative language about the snake that sucked all the fluids out of Mildred and the mechanical dog that the fire department has are in sense “alive yet not alive”. By using these reoccurring terms, Bradbury is stating that the humans are like machines in that they do not understand what is going on and, on the other hand, that the machines can act for themselves in a way. Therefore, Bradbury uses these terms to form this recurring theme.

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