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Society Without Literature

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Many people may not think that literature has a big impact on society, but it does. In the two novels, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and 1984 by George Orwell, the two societies were able to survive without any literature but that causes people to be narrow minded and didn’t think too much. If literature was taken away from society, there wouldn’t be people who think out side the box and find the deeper meanings in the writings they read. According to Dictionary.com, one of the definitions of literature is, “writings in which expression and form, in connection with ideas of permanent and universal interest, are characteristic or essential features, as poetry, novels, history, biography, and essays”. Some writings like street signs or the plumber’s manual wouldn’t be considered literature, but things like a novel or a poem would. It may seem like literature is just a bunch of nonsense, but really there’s a meaning behind everything.

In Fahrenheit 451, Montag reads to Millie but she doesn’t seem to understand what is being said, “He read a dozen pages here or there…Mildred sat across the hall from him. ‘What does it mean? It doesn’t mean anything!” (Bradbury 68). Reading something only one time won’t help you grasp any knowledge from it unless you read it a few more times. It may not make sense after reading it once but after a while things just start coming together. In the society of 1984, Winston learns the saying of St. Clement’s that goes, “Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St. Clement’s, You owe me three farthings, say the bells of St. Martin’s” (Orwell 83). This saying or poem is qualified as literature but it is not welcomed in the society. A person who thinks they can survive without literature isn’t very bright because they don’t understand how much of an impact it is. The individual would most likely state the obvious and won’t take the effort to explore the different meanings within the writing.

Someone, like Mrs. Bowles from Fahrenheit 451, believes that literature is just a bunch of mush that doesn’t mean anything, as she states, “Silly word, silly words, silly awful words. Why do people want to hurt people? Not enough hurt in the world, you got to tease people with stuff like that!” (Bradbury 101). Literature is not just a bunch of silly words that are meant to hurt people, it’s a way to experience the world in a whole new way and it helps individuals to express themselves freely. It would be nice to read something that would be understandable and easy to comprehend such as Winston in this section of the book, “This book fascinated him, or more exactly it reassured him. In a sense it told him nothing that was new, but that was part of the attraction. It said what he would have said, if it had been possible for him to set his scattered thoughts in order. It was the product of a mind similar to his own, but enormously more powerful, more systematic, less fear-ridden. The best books, he perceived are those that tell you what you know already” (Orwell 200).

Being able to understand a piece of writing that has been read will benefit someone who wants to think deeper of the actual meanings of the words. While some people dislike literature, Faber, a character from the novel Fahrenheit 451, cherishes literature and teaches Montag the importance of having it by asking questions such as, “Do you know why books such as this are so important? Because they have quality. And what does quality mean? To me it means texture. This book has pores” (Bradbury 83). The quality of the books is literature which makes both the book and the knowledge in the book important. Overall, the individual would be less open minded and a bit reserved without literature being present. Society would have an army of dim wits without any literature. In 1984, there is not permanent mark in history, “Who controls the past controls the future, who controls the present controls the past” (Orwell 37).

Every now and then, one of the workers changes the past just to make a better future or they change the past to change the present. Since there is no permanent mark in time, this would not be considered literature because part of literature is history. As year passes, the English (as well as others) vocabulary expands unlike the language of Newspeak in the story 1984, “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thought crime literally impossible, because there will be no words which to express it” (Orwell 46). Their language decrease as years goes by until one year there will be nothing to say because all words would be gone. In Fahrenheit 451, it mentions that knowledge is needed in this line, “You can’t guarantee things like that! After all, when we had all the books we needed, we still insisted on finding the highest cliff to jump off. But we do need a breather.

We do need knowledge.” (Bradbury 86). Knowledge is found in literature so without it there is no knowledge which is why literature is extremely important in modern day society. Without literature, society will be filled with people who wouldn’t normally think out side of the box because they wouldn’t have enough experience to do so without the knowledge literature teaches them. Reading novels like Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 helps the readers understand and imagine an actual society in which literature does not exist. Society would be controlling and citizens wouldn’t be able to think for themselves. In modern age, it is important to cherish every piece of literature we encounter and spread the knowledge we learn to others.

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