Satire In Fahrenheit 451

How does Fahrenheit 451 show satire?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Fahrenheit 451 is a satirical look at a society where books have become illegal because they make people uncomfortable. The government, having become a bloated bureaucracy without care for human life, knows that it can control its citizens through television and meaningless entertainment, and so it encourages the use of enormous television screens that show nothing but random images and shouting, emotional people, without actual stories or scripts. It avoids discussion of issues in favor of catchphrases that people will repeat without thinking. Chief Beatty explains:

"Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to moreĀ  popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of non-combustible data, chock them so damned full of 'facts' they feel stuffed, but absolutely 'brilliant' with information. Then they'll feel they're thinking, they'll get a sense of motion without moving."
(Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Google Books)

This satirizes the rise of commercial television in the 1950s, when Bradbury wrote the book. He used his knowledge of human nature combined with the booming ad industry to create a world in which people don't think about anything except what they see on TV. In fact, this sort of mentality became almost commonplace later in history, and for a time there were cases of "television addiction," which have now been replaced by Internet addiction. The bottom line is that the novel satirizes the rise of entertainment without content, and the creation of an isolationist society -- not from other societies, but from its own members.