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Fahrenheit 451

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Grades 9-12 | Analysis | Source-Based

Source Lexile®: NP

Learning Standards



Prompt: As is customary for dystopian novels, Fahrenheit 451 is set in a future world where the independent pursuit of knowledge is outlawed and society as a whole is complacent in its ignorance. Through key events in the novel, the central character, Guy Montag, starts to question this governing principle and the resulting internal conflict advances the plot and key themes.


In Chapter 2 of the novel, Montag reads aloud the poem "Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold to Mildred and her friends. After reading both the novel and the full text of the poem, consider Bradbury's choice to have Montag present this particular poem. Write an essay that analyzes the shared themes of the novel and poem, and how the inclusion of the poem emphasizes the central conflict of Fahrenheit 451.



Dover Beach

By Matthew Arnold


The sea is calm tonight.

The tide is full, the moon lies fair

Upon the straits; on the French coast the light

Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,

Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.

Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!

Only, from the long line of spray

Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,

Listen! you hear the grating roar

Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,

At their return, up the high strand,

Begin, and cease, and then again begin,

With tremulous cadence slow, and bring

The eternal note of sadness in.


Sophocles long ago

Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought

Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow

Of human misery; we

Find also in the sound a thought,

Hearing it by this distant northern sea.


The Sea of Faith

Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore

Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.

But now I only hear

Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,

Retreating, to the breath

Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear

And naked shingles of the world.


Ah, love, let us be true

To one another! for the world, which seems

To lie before us like a land of dreams,

So various, so beautiful, so new,

Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,

Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;

And we are here as on a darkling plain

Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,

Where ignorant armies clash by night.









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