Andrew BastaMr. MadinFahrenheit 451 paperPer. 1″Schadenfreude” is a German word with no exact English translation. The word literally means harm-joy. Schadenfreude is the feeling of pleasure derived from other people’s pain. In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, society is full of dissatisfied people who very rarely find happiness. They tend to seek and find false senses of joy through watching others, on television or through audio reports on completely in-ear seashell radios. Instead of experiences in their own lives, they often end up finding joy from other people’s pain. Ray Bradbury’s book confirms many scientific studies that prove schadenfreude can be caused by a lack of real joy, strong feelings of depression, and other external factors. In the world of Fahrenheit 451, everybody seems to be happy. Sort of. They watch TV all day They are never forced to face anything unpleasant. They are never truly bothered by anything. Most everyone in the story is horribly dissatisfied. It is just that no one is willing to admit it. The episode between Mildred and the pills confirms this dissatisfaction. Mildred is quite clearly trying to kill herself by overdosing on these pills. Moreover, Mildred is not the only person trying to kill herself. During Mildred’s overdose, Ray Bradbury illustrates the scale of suicide attempts in this civilization. “‘Hell!’ the operator’s cigarette moved on his lips. ‘We get these cases nine or ten a night. Got so many, starting a few years ago, we had the special machines built.'”(1) In addition, a lot of violence towards each other come from this society because of people’s misery. When Clarisse is talking to Montag she explains, “They kill each other,”(1) and “Six of her friends have been shot in the last year alone. Ten of them died in car wrecks.”(1)This violence is caused by a lack of actual happiness because when these kids become depressed, their only solution is killing themselves and each other. Happiness is caused by a lack of decisions and lack of power over their own lives. Beatty elaborates on this, “If you don’t want a house built, hide the nails and wood. If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none.”(1) It is this very lack of options that leaves Montag, as well as almost everyone in this society, so unhappy. This society is a brainless void which cannot satisfy the individual. In addition, This brainless void is a society where there are now low points, no real points of extreme sadness. Montag explained this to Mildred, “We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?” (1) To this question Mildred could not think of a reply. She was overwhelmed because she could never think of herself as happy or sad. Therefore, it is clear that many people in this society are depressed. There are few sources of real pleasure in this Fahrenheit 451 society. The government provides a fake form of joy through television and other type of technology so happiness cannot be reached for many people. One of the few places actual happiness comes from is other people’s pain. The people in this society typically thrive on that type of pleasure. Television is clearly very present in this society as we can see when Montag asks Mildred to turn off the Parlour TV. Mildred replies, “That’s my family.” Later this point is reinforced when Montag asks, “Millie? Does the White Clown love you?” Millie has no answer to this question. Both of these quotes prove that TV is extremely important in this society. Furthermore, these quotes prove the comfort and love that many citizens feel for this TV in society. Also, the government is constantly trying to improve people’s joy. “‘Ten million men mobilized,’ Faber’s voice whispered in his other ear. ‘But say one million. It’s happier.'”(2) Faber is simply telling Montag some of the small actions the government takes to improve happiness in this society, even in this temporary form. Whether the happiness is routed in this TV family or the government lies, it is not a real form of happiness that satisfies the individual. Instead, People are forced to find pleasure in other people’s pain. From the very beginning of the book it is clear that Montag feels happiness from pain. He says, “IT WAS A PLEASURE TO BURN.” (1) Bradburry later writes, “He wanted above all, like the old joke, to shove a marshmallow on a stick in the furnace, while the flapping pigeon-winged books died on the porch and lawn of the house.” (1) Montag doesn’t just find happiness through this fire and pain, he “above all” (1) wants to let the house burn and is driven and motivated by the flame. In all, the government provides a fake form of happiness that is so displeasing individuals must search for happiness in other people’s pain. After seeing someone’s misfortune and pain people respond in many ways. One common way is schadenfreude described by numerous psychologists as the “delighting at the misfortune of others.” Everyone has done this from time to time; if a friend spilled food on his/her shirt one might start chuckling at his/her friend’s expense. But for some people, someone else’s misfortune feels strangely satisfying. “The Link between Depression and schadenfreude: Further Evidence” was a 2015 study in the journal Psychological Reports that linked experiences of schadenfreude with depression. The study found that, “moderately depressed students reported more schadenfreude and less freudenfreude than their mildly depressed peers.” This is correlated with Fahrenheit 451 because the depressed people in the society clearly feel higher levels of schadenfreude. Also, according to Empathy Rules by, psychologist, Dr. Robin Knoblach this book is geared to people who struggle with depression. The book explains how schadenfreude is “a significant piece” of depression. This reinforces the point of depression causing schadenfreude by another world-renowned scientist and psychologist who studies depression and schadenfreude. External factors are also very important in schadenfreude. Philosopher Nietzsche’s book “On the Genealogy of Morality” which was written in 1887 first explains how external factors relate to schadenfreude. For example, a very common external factor in schadenfreude is whether a group deserves the success. This relates to Fahrenheit 451 because nobody in this society works hard to be successful. Therefore, it is never viewed as deserved, and the amount of schadenfreude in society increases. Overall, It is clear in many different scientific studies schadenfreude is directly caused by depression and dissatisfaction in society. In Fahrenheit 451, The deep ennui that runs through the population is subdued by mindless activity and an insistence on happiness, both on the part of the government and the citizens themselves. In addition, the TV reigns supreme in the future because of the “happiness” it offers. People are happier when they don’t have to think, or at the very least, feel more comfortable because they can be with their real “family.” These feelings of depression and fake happiness have been scientifically proven to lead to schadenfreude and pleasure from others pain. Ray Bradbury definitively shows the correlation between depression and schadenfreude in this society.