It is important to note that Bradbury wrote this novel in the late 1940s and published it in 1950. World War II occurred from 1939 to 1945. Censorship was a huge factor in the Nazi program. Hitler's regime operated by spreading propaganda and censoring anything that threatened the Nazi ideology....
It is important to note that Bradbury wrote this novel in the late 1940s and published it in 1950. World War II occurred from 1939 to 1945. Censorship was a huge factor in the Nazi program. Hitler's regime operated by spreading propaganda and censoring anything that threatened the Nazi ideology. This included burning books and indoctrinating children at a young age (radicalizing). Likewise, Stalin's program in the Soviet Union utilized propaganda to garner or demand public support for the government's brand of communism.
Bradbury was certainly aware of this kind of tyranny. In the wake of World War II, the United States government began their own brand of censorship. It was a program that accused United States citizens of having communist sympathies. This era in our history is known as McCarthyism, so named for Joseph McCarthy, a US senator who was one of the main players in the campaign to rid America of all things communist. This process singled out citizens and led to the blacklisting of many writers, actors, and filmmakers. McCarthy was also involved in a committee that banned certain books in the overseas library program, and some of these libraries actually burned the forbidden books.
This kind of censorship in post-World War II America was eerily similar to that used by the Nazis and the Soviet Union. In Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury satirizes this rampant censorship, and this is the central theme in the novel: free speech and thought vs. censorship. In the book, Beatty's argument is that ignorance is bliss. The less people know, the happier they will be. With fewer ideas and perspectives to consider, everyone begins to think the same way, and this leads to peace. This is what Bradbury is satirizing: the notion that ignorance is bliss and that tyranny is justified by this widespread program of cultural mind control. The parlour walls play a role in this widespread pacification by keeping everyone preoccupied with their "screens." In hindsight, this seems particularly prescient.