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I have been told there is an allusion to Plato in Fahrenheit 451. The name "Plato" is mentioned once, but I don't think it counts as an allusion.

He dialled the call on a secondary phone. The phone on the far end of the line called Faber's name a dozen times before the professor answered in a faint voice. Montag identified himself and was met with a lengthy silence. "Yes, Mr. Montag?"

"Professor Faber, I have a rather odd question to ask. How many copies of the Bible are left in this country?"

"I don't know what you're talking about!"

"I want to know if there are any copies left at all."

"This is some sort of a trap! I can't talk to just anyone on the phone!"

"How many copies of Shakespeare and Plato?"

"None! You know as well as I do. None!"

Faber hung up.

What is an example of an allusion to Plato in Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury?

PDF of the book Fahrenheit 451.

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  • Any piece of information helps!
    – M. C.
    Jan 28, 2019 at 21:34
  • There are allusions to Plato's Republic. If I can find a good source, I'll make an answer! Jan 29, 2019 at 0:14
  • A quick web search for "plato allusion in fahrenheit 451" threw up a lot of results, like this for example. All seem to agree that it's about the Allegory of the Cave.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jan 29, 2019 at 12:25

2 Answers 2

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This excerpt:

Montag shook his head. He looked at a blank wall. The girl's face was there, really quite beautiful in memory: astonishing, in fact. She had a very thin face like the dial of a small clock seen faintly in a dark room in the middle of a night when you waken to see the time and see the clock telling you the hour and the minute and the second, with a white silence and a glowing, all certainty and knowing what it has to tell of the night passing swiftly on toward further darknesses but moving also toward a new sun.

"What?" asked Montag of that other self, the subconscious idiot that ran babbling at times, quite independent of will, habit, and conscience.

He glanced back at the wall. How like a mirror, too, her face. Impossible; for how many people did you know that refracted your own light to you? People were more often - he searched for a simile, found one in his work-torches, blazing away until they whiffed out. How rarely did other people's faces take of you and throw back to you your own expression, your own innermost trembling thought?

What incredible power of identification the girl had; she was like the eager watcher of a marionette show, anticipating each flicker of an eyelid, each gesture of his hand, each flick of a finger, the moment before it began. How long had they walked together? Three minutes? Five? Yet how large that time seemed now. How immense a figure she was on the stage before him; what a shadow she threw on the wall with her slender body! He felt that if his eye itched, she might blink. And if the muscles of his jaws stretched imperceptibly, she would yawn long before he would.

resembles Plato's Allegory of the Cave:

Plato has Socrates describe a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall from objects passing in front of a fire behind them, and give names to these shadows. The shadows are the prisoners' reality. Socrates explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall are not reality at all, for he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the manufactured reality that is the shadows seen by the prisoners. The inmates of this place do not even desire to leave their prison, for they know no better life. The prisoners manage to break their bonds one day, and discover that their reality was not what they thought it was. They discovered the sun, which Plato uses as an analogy for the fire that man cannot see behind.

Other reference to the same allegory could be Mildred's wall-TV show. She is basically living her life looking at and communicating with TV characters which are projected on the wall, which replaces the reality for her.

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  • Thank you! Exactly what I needed. Great!
    – M. C.
    Jan 29, 2019 at 23:27
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Granger mentions Plato at the end of the novel, when he lists the different books that he and the other men have memorized and embody, his being The Republic.

As the source that Rand al'Thor linked in the comments points out, Montag's exclamation that "[m]aybe the books can get us half out of the cave," after he rants about his unhappiness, the state of his relationship with Mildred, the war, and the death of Clarisse and the woman who burned with her books may be a subtle allusion to the allegory of the cave. Montag would probably represent the philosopher/escapee who leaves the cave and slowly acclimates to seeing things in the real world only to come back and be mocked and threatened by the prisoners when trying to describe it. Montag has a similar journey of gradual disillusionment about society as the journey of the escapee described in the allegory. Like the prisoners, Mildred does not understand or believe Montag when he questions society and starts reading books, and even puts him in danger when she turns him in. Additionally, Granger and his men, along with Montag, do plan to go back into society to help rebuild it, like the escapee going back to the cave to inform the other prisoners.

Hope this wasn't too much analysis! I just find it interesting. :)

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  • There's no such thing as too much analysis, at least on this site :-)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jan 4 at 8:53

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