Accesing Forbidden Knowledge In Literature Essay

1504 words - 7 pages

Many different novels written in different times, can have very similar themes and ideas that have had an impact over the course of time. Knowledge can be defined by facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject (Oxford University, 2014). Throughout the novel Fahrenheit 451 written by Ray Bradbury and the novel The Book Thief written by Marcus Zusak the theme of forbidden knowledge exists. The theme of forbidden knowledge is symbolized through the burning of the books done by the firefighters and the Nazi soldiers, the penalties that come with trying to obtain knowledge such as going to prison, and the idea that knowledge comes with a cost which can be as severe as death. In both of the novels the main characters Liesel Meminger in The Book Thief, and Guy Montag in Fahrenheit 451, both characters quest for knowledge ends up in flames.

The act of book burning has been around since the 7th Century BC when Jehoiakim, King of Judah, burned part of the prophet Jeremiah's scroll (Jeremiah 36), and to the present day, the burning of books has a long history as a tool wielded by authorities in efforts to suppress anyone from accessing this forbidden knowledge and from posing a threat to the prevailing order. In the novel Fahrenheit 451 the firefighters now start fires rather than put them out. The firefighters say that they must burn all the books because it makes it easier for the government to control the populace. Just as the Nazis burn books to make it easier for the government to control the German people. Captain Beatty explains to Montag the reason that firefighters burn books when he says "A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon. Breach man’s mind" (Bradbury 55). Beatty tells Montag that in order to keep the peace between all of the people in the world, the people must not be allowed to gain knowledge, because this would cause them to begin thinking for themselves again. Beatty shows Montag that there is no value in literature, and that only destruction can come out of reading books.
The idea of the value of literature relates to the book The Book Thief in the sense that authority figures, the Nazis, like the firefighters burn books to dispose of any other ways of thinking than what the government needs the people to believe, thus forbidding the knowledge of anything other than what is deemed acceptable. In The Book Thief Liesel tells the reader ”The Germans loved to burn things. Shops, synagogues, Reichstags, houses, personal items, slain people, and of course, books” (Zusak 84). Therefore, the Germans burned and destroyed everything that was contrary to their cause, even books, rather than try to learn about them. They blamed people and books which did not agree with their racial, brainwashing ideology, just as the firefighters worked for the government which burned books to make the populous agree...

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