“Technology…the knack of so arranging the world that we don’t have to experience it”- Max Frisch (Frisch)
Throughout the book, we can detect many symbols of technology that all represent different ideologies in the society in which the book Fahrenheit 451 takes place. One form of technology that appears frequently in the novel is the animal machines; the Mechanical Hound, the helicopters or planes that are referred to as “Insects” and the Electric-Eyed Snake. These machines that are shaped and made to look, sound and act like an animal of nature, representing the absence of nature and the presence of the governments almighty control in this world.
We are first introduced to the Mechanical Hound, when Montag is in the fire station and he sees the “Hound” sleeping in the dark corner of the firehouse, seemingly innocent and calm. But by its reaction to Montag touching the “creature”, when it growls and flares it’s blue-green neon eyes at him, ready to attack, we see that it symbolizes an enforcer of the law because Montag afterwards, believes that it had acted like this towards him because it somehow knew of the books that he had stolen and been collecting. Normally, firedogs in our society would be used to rescue people form burning buildings, but these dogs are used as watchdogs, and the people fear it because it will track down and tranquilize any lawbreakers, and this is what they are designed specifically for.
“The little mosquito-delicate dancing hum in the air, the electrical murmur of a hidden wasp snug in its special pink warm nest” (Bradbury 9) This is a description of the “insect-like” helicopters or planes that fly above the city many times a day, making much noise. The noise it makes is extremely distracting, but of course, this is the point. There is to be no silence, ever, so the people will not be able to get lost in thought. And so, the humming of the “insects” is a symbol of the manipulation of the people by the government.
After Mildred attempts suicide by taking pills, a, “Electric-Eyed Snake” is used on her to pump fresh blood into her body, removing the poisonous blood. “It fed in silence with an occasional sound of inner suffocation and blind searching” (Bradbury 12) The snake has many natural tendencies, but is still very mechanical. Instead of people performing simple tasks such as this, machines are used which shows how consumed the society is by technology.
These machines are made to act as animals to imitate the natural scheme of things, and an illusion of how things are naturally supposed to be in society. The Mechanical Hound who “slept but did not sleep”, is put together like a dog that growls, but also has eight spider-like legs that shows the dysfunctional idea of natural creatures that the people are not supposed to have, but instead are programmed to track and kill and maintain order, the “Insects” are used as a distraction to the people to keep a censored society, and the Electric-Eyed Snake is replaced by humans as a tool for performing tasks in the society that shows to full control the government has on society to eliminate all natural processes with technological ones.
Frisch, Max. Homo Faber. London: Abelard-Schuman, 1959. Print.
Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. New York: Ballantine Books, 1953. Print.