Homework Help

In 1984, in which scenes is the political satire most apparent?

user profile pic

pjeshka | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 3, 2009 at 5:29 AM via web

dislike 1 like

In 1984, in which scenes is the political satire most apparent?

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

ecofan74 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted June 17, 2010 at 9:24 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like

Political satire permeates George Orwell's 1984.  From virtually the first page of the novel, Orwell makes conscious references to the political realities of World War II and the period immediately following its conclusion.  In the opening chapters, Winston Smith, the protagonist and most apparent narrator of the novel, outlines the structure and function of the political apparatus at work in Oceania.  In doing so, he references the fact that under the Party, Oceania has undergone a series of "Three Year Plans" - nine of them to be exact.  This references Stalin's series of three "Five-Year Plans" to accelerate the industrialize the Soviet Union during the 1930s.  This specific reference serves one primary purpose.  The fact that Orwell references these measures - measures that resulted in the deaths of thousands upon thousands of people - signals to the reader that the Party harbors many of the same priorities as Stalin in the 1930s.  In addition, this reference relates Orwell's own feelings about Communism as a political system - specifically its oppressive tendencies.

The "Two Minutes of Hate," too, illustrates Orwell's political satire.  In the "Two Minutes of Hate," the Party targets an individual, citing that individual as an enemy of the state.  The enemy in this case is Emmanuel Goldstein.  Goldstein is said to have written inflammatory rhetoric against the Party and as such must be killed as a threat to the public peace.  The "Two Minutes of Hate" seeks to get the population to fall in line with the official Party policy (in a sense, this allows the Party to control the thoughts of the population through propaganda).  The fact that the enemy's name is Goldstein is not an accident.  Goldstein is most often viewed as a Jewish surname.  When taking this into consideration, the Party wants the population to direct its attention to Goldstein and those who support him.  This is a VERY thinly veiled reference to Hitler's use of the Jewish population as a scapegoat for Germany abyssmal economic and political situation throughout the 1920s and early 1930s.  Orwell, however, uses this example in a larger sense as well.  It illustrates how political leaders in totalitarian states seek to control their population - in this case focusing their attention away from the actions of the Party itself.

These are only two examples from the early chapters of the novel, but it is clear, even from these examples, how incidents and ideas in the text parallel the historical and political realities of the author's experience.  This tendency to integrate such realities into the references in the novel consistently appears throughout its pages.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes