I propose to entitle my thesis, Fantastic Mirrors in Three Works of Ray Bradbury. My research project will focus in how the text shows many mirrors to the main characters which makes them as if getting into an ambiguous condition between real or unreal called Fantastic. I am going to look at one novel, Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, and two short story collections, Bradbury’s S is for Space and Bradbury’s R is for Rocket as the objects of my study. Moreover, I will refer to three basis theoretical texts, Lacan’s The Mirror Stage, Todorov’s The Fantastic, and Jackson’s Fantasy: The Literature of Subversion. If it is necessary, I will also use three journal articles to help me developing my ideas, which are McGiveron’s “To build a mirror factory”: The mirror and self-examination in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Wood’s Bradbury and Atwood: Exile as Rational Decision, and Zipes’s Mass Degradation of Humanity and Massive Contradictions in Bradbury`s Vision of America in Fahrenheit 451.
In Fahrenheit 451, the main character, Montag, has trapped in the ambigious condition after meeting with Clarisse, Montag`s seventeen-year-old neighbor. Clarisse give some questions and new prespectives to Montag which makes Montag starts to think placing him in ambigious condition as what the narrator describes,
[Montag] felt his body divide itself into a hotness and a coldness, a softness and a hardness, a trembling and a not trembling, the two halves grinding one upon the other. (24)
What I am not sure is I do not know whether the main character is concious or not in that moment. However, he seems to realize that he is in the ambigious condition after observing his enviroment. He says conciously “[i]t doesn’t like me.” (26)
McGiveron’s journal helps me to understand that to create the ambigious conditions, the text uses some mirrors. Clarrise therefore, is one of the mirrors.
It is both of the questions and Montag himself who makes Montag trapped in the ambigious condition. However, they are cannot be on one’s own. The questions and Montag’s self are related to each other. She even says that “[Montag is] peculiar [him]self.” (23) Moreover,Clarrise’s question reflects who Montag is as Clarrise states after asking,
[Montag’s self is] not like the other.[…] When I talk you look at me. When I said something about the moon, you looked at the moon, last night. The other would never do that. (23)
Then, Clarrise tries to describe Montag’s reflection in herself by comparing Montag’s with the other.
The other would walk off and leave me talking. Or threaten me. No one [except Montag] has time any more for anyone else. You’re one of the few who put up with me, (23)
Finally, Clarrise succed in reflecting Montag’s self, but the irony is that what Clarrise reflect is different with what Montag wants to see as himself in the mirror, a fireman.
That’s why I think it’s so strange you’re a fireman. It just doesn’t seem right for you, somehow. (24)
It seems that Montag cannot see the boundaries of himself because all of the things around him are too familiar. Therefore, after meeting with Clarrise who says many unfamiliar things, he finally can see the boundaries.