Why Montag is an Anti-hero

Why Montag is an Anti-hero

Guy Montag in the book of Ray Bradbury, “Fahrenheit” has some heroic qualities such as realizing government’s immorality and rebelling against them. Even after he was ordered to destroy his home for being in possession of a book, he continues to stand by his decision of rebelling. He ends up escaping from the government and decides to live by his rules contrary to living by the rules of the government. However, throughout the story, he has exhibited qualities that are not heroic. Guy Montag is an anti-hero because he lacks heroic characters such as sincerity, commitment, leadership, cautiousness, and braveness.

Montag is a fireman whose work is to destroy books. However, to him this was not his choice and at some time he wondered why he was still a fireman. To him he was a fireman most probably because of his family. Montag says,” thought! Was I given a choice? My grandfather and father were firemen. In my sleep, I ran after them” (Bradbury 51). This shows that most probably conscience forces him into being part of firemen. For one to qualify as a hero, he needs to be sincere and show commitment in executing their duties. However Montag is questioning whether his job is rational. He says,” well, this fire will last me the rest of my life. God! I have been trying to put it out, in my mind, all night, I am crazy with trying (Bradbury 51). This shows that he is very hesitant with his job. A hero is decisive, sincere, and committed. Montag lacks these heroic characters thus being referred to as an anti-hero.

Montag is reckless. He reads a poem out loud ‘Dover Beach’ (Bradbury 96) for three ladies that is Millie and her two friends. Most probably Montag had gained a lot of knowledge that he wished to share with other. Even though he felt courageous to read the book to the ladies, he ended up scaring them where they flee in tears. However this reckless act would end up putting his life in danger. He ended up being arrested for the act by captain Beatty. This act proves that Montag is not only reckless but also not cautious and hence qualifying as an anti-hero. Montag also lacks leadership quality that he would have used to influence the three women to listen to him thus being unheroic.

At the beginning of the book, Montag is an ordinary fireman who is ignorant and obedient. But things starts changing after meeting Clarisse McClellan. Through her questions and concerns, she changes Montag who starts questioning what he had done for the past ten years. Clarisse’s sparkles ignites Montag’s fiery heart strongly. He even starts stealing books while executing his duties. He even goes ahead to ask Professor Faber to help him learn how to read. In addition, Montag and Faber have a plan to contact unemployed printer to access more books as evidence in their plan which states that, “ they might start a few books, and wait on the war to break the pattern and give us the push we need” (Bradbury 85). However due to Montag’s anger towards the three ladies, this plan was unsuccessful qualifying him as an anti-hero character.

Montag is poor when it comes to handling pressure. This is evidenced when Captain Beatty discusses with him about the content of the books that are being burnt. Montag says, “I am alright” in a nervous manner. Then captain says, Stop blushing, I am not needling, really, I am not. Do you know, I had a dream an hour ago? I lay down for a catnap and in this dream you and I, Montag, got into a furious debate about books.” (Bradbury 106). Blushing and nervousness are the unheroic qualities that Montag exhibits in this debate.

Montag is not courageous. After Beatty found out that Montag was hiding a book or books instead of burning them, she ordered him to destroy his home and after which he is placed under arrest. He agrees to destroy the home but in the process attacks the captain. To avoid being attacked, Montag escapes to home of a fellow fireman where he hides the books and then heads to Faber’s home where he is advised to escape. As he watches TV in Faber’s home, the announcers says that the mechanical Hound that would be used to attack him “never fails” (133), from this announcement Montag decides to escape in order to save himself. Heroes have courage and are brave. A hero would have fought against the government instead of running away. In this case, Montag is an anti-hero. Apart from lacking the qualities, Montag did not succeed in taking down the government that practices immorality as a hero would and even ends up living in a forest.

In conclusion, it is clear that Guy Montag is an anti-hero because he lacks heroic characters such as sincerity, commitment, leadership, cautiousness, and braveness. When it comes to his job, he is not sure why he is still part of firemen. Instead of fighting against the government when he destroys captain, he runs away as a coward. Even though Montag has several heroic qualities that can qualify him as a hero, he lacks many heroic qualities thus being to as an anti-hero of the time the book was written.

Work Cited

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. Simon & Schuster; Reissue edition (2012).