Historical and Political Allusions
All page numbers reference Fahrenheit 451, Del Ray version.
“[…] Thursday morning, November fourth […]” (32)
This is a reference to Guy Fawkes Day, which is actually November fifth. By today’s standards, Guy Fawkes was a terrorist who attempted to blow up the English parliament on November fifth; however, this act was planned and executed as an act against a tyrannical government, not unlike the one found in Fahrenheit 451.
“Established, 1790, to burn English-influenced books in the colonies. First fireman: Benjamin Franklin.” (34)
This passage depicts Benjamin Franklin as the first fireman to burn books. Franklin established the first fire brigade in Philadelphia; however, he did not burn books as the novel tells, but rather stops fires.
“‘Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.’” (36)
This is a reference to Nicholas Ridley and Hugh Latimer. The two were Protestants who sought to deepen the protestant religion in England against the will of Queen Mary, a staunch Catholic. The two were convicted of treason and burnt at the stake.
“Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution say, but everyone made equal.” (58)
Captain Beatty claims here that people need to be made equal, lest people become unhappy. Beatty claims that it is the job of the fireman to uphold equality by burning books which show people’s inequalities. This is how Beatty misinterprets the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence by wanting to uphold the right to the pursuit of happiness, but as a fireman he forces people to be happy by taking away all unhappiness.
“Do I turn in Mr. Jefferson?” (76)
This reference to Thomas Jefferson is closely related to the previous reference about the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
“Compare Winston Noble to Hubert Hoag for ten seconds and you can almost figure the results.” (97)
In the novel, Noble and Hoag are candidates for president, and Noble wins. Mildred and her friends discuss politics in the presence of Montag, but they only talk about the physical appearance of the two candidates. This shows that politics have declined to mere appearances rather than platforms and views. This possibly alludes to Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister between 1940 and 1945.
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