How might 1984 be a satire of communism?

Expert Answers
bmadnick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The novel is a satiric statement of what could happen if people in the world didn't recognize the problems and do something about it. The novel isn't a prediction really, but it's a warning of what could happen if no one does anything. Of course, Orwell uses what was happening in the Soviet Union with Stalin as the pattern of what can happen. Stalin's dictatorship controlled everything and everyone in the Soviet Union. He rewrote history so the books would say that Lenin had wanted Stalin to follow him. Orwell created Big Brother as the ultimate totalitarian leader who dominates all of his society. The U. S. reacted to Communism with the Cold War and the paranoia of the McCarthy hearings, the same kind of paranoia you see in the novel.  Orwell also saw television as being used for evil rather than good, where it would broadcast propaganda, just as it did in the novel.

The satire then is what Orwell was afraid would happen if the problems of the world after WWII weren't dealt with. He saw the dictators of various countries taking control of their governments and ruling with iron fists. Orwell wanted to warn the free world of what could happen if they turned to socialism or communism as the answer to their problems.

timbrady eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Satire- "the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc." (

According to my understanding of satire, 1984 is not a good fit. Orwell was very concerned about the rise of dictatorship as the political force of the 20th century, but he was equally concerned with the failure of language to deal with this reality. He discusses this in a paper entitled "Politics and the English Language," 1946. The major thrust of 1984 isn't about ridiculing vice or folly, but about predicting what will happen if we allow our knowledge of the past to be controlled by the government. You might be interested in viewing "Google Epic" to see what this could look like in our future. 1984 also discusses the attempt to limit the language that is available to us. The "Newspeak" dictionary is always shrinking, limiting the words and thoughts that are available to "us." Orwell discusses this in the aforementioned document.

The novel is probably best qualified as "dystopian" rather than "satirical," but I'm not sure the label is all that important. Exploring its meaning is critical.

parama9000 | Student

It is a warning that the world should watch out if communism spreads further from the Soviet Union and questioning the reader if they want such a world. It denounces communism, and is thus a satire.

carielewyn | Student

it's a satire about the general global stupidity that can be applied to anything from religion to the media to politics. communism isn't what the book is ABOUT about, it's just the costume. just like in a fable, the animals are just there to teach the lesson, it's not a story about the animal kingdom but about life.

simplictity | Student

Since there are many different aspects of the book, it is hard to rule out the use of satire in all. In my eyes, the satire can be seen in a society based on fear. Throughout the novel there are ways that the governement strikes fear into the people with the telescreens and posters and what not. Therefore it could be the extreme of Orwell's fear that society could be run by fear. A simple example could be how a fear of poverty is what makes a young man work. 

babi | Student

Wow ! Great answers by both of you! I guess it's easy to assume that 1984 is a satire since it does seem to poke fun at certain elements of communist society. However, like mentioned, it also serves as a very serious warning.

 I'm going to have to give this topic a little more thought before I can write about it confidently

Thanks so much!