Comparing Satire In Babbitt By Sinclair Lewis And The Simpsons

2275 words - 9 pages

The Power of Satire in Babbitt and The Simpsons

   Sinclair Lewis used his writing to promote the enrichment of American society by attacking the weaknesses he perceived in his era.  His most notable work, Babbitt, is a satire on the middle class lifestyle and attitude of the 1920s.  Lewis' satirical style and voice is comparable to the modern television series The Simpsons, written by Matt Groening.  Babbitt and The Simpsons contain numerous similarities in satirical writing, presentation and commentary.  Matt Groening satirizes many modern situations with his style and characterization in The Simpsons that are similar to the conditions in Babbitt.  The Simpsons represent the pinnacle of how Lewis' opinions are still alive in today's world.


            Lewis uses both the effects of direct and indirect satire.  Lewis is a realistic satirist who, like many others, can "...utilize their vast firsthand knowledge of the material they describe and their sensitive ear for dialogue to support the illusion of reality" (Feinburg 61).  Lewis' firsthand knowledge is seen through the use of the minister Mike Monday in Babbitt, which is a satirical poke at the minister Billie Sunday of his time which would be unknown to him unless he knew the current events of his era.  Lewis first presents an obviously dead end idea through a foolish character, then has it refuted by an outside voice of reason, only to have the original character praise and defend the idea until he likely fails or realizes his blunder (Feinburg 92).  This type of interaction can be seen in Babbitt through a conversation between George and Myra. Babbitt begins by defending his new found liberalism and denouncing the Good Citizens League because "(i)t stands for the suppression of free speech and free thought and every thing else!" (Lewis 353).  Next, Myra explains to him that people may criticize him, causing his reputation to be ruined.  Babbitt comes back with, "Let 'em criticize!" (Lewis 353).  Babbitt eventually realizes how much his liberal mindedness is hurting his family and image, and resorts back to being a sound businessman with a mechanized workday.     


            Sinclair Lewis and Matt Groening use similar satiric writing styles that mock the middle-class lifestyle of their eras.  Lewis and Groening use their unique styles of hidden humor to satirize the cruel domination of business, obsessions with status and material possessions, the lack of culture, mechanical thought, religious issues and prohibition to express their feelings of distaste and uneasiness towards their time period's values and compliant lifestyles. 


            The tyranny of business and all its twisted ethics are very apparent in Babbitt and The Simpsons. In Babbitt, Lewis points out the corrupt nature of business dealings and their effects on other people.  An example is the Lyte-Purdy deal where Babbitt gets Lyte to buy some...

Find Another Essay On Comparing Satire in Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis and The Simpsons

Superiority of Races in Sinclair Lewis' Babbitt

2362 words - 9 pages Superiority of Races in Babbit           Hatred, intolerance, prejudice, and narrow-mindedness are all terms that can be applied when describing someone who is a bigot.  By these terms George F. Babbitt, the protagonist in Sinclair Lewis' Babbitt, and many of his acquaintances are quite the bigots toward all those that appear different than he is especially immigrants and minorities in America.  The blame should not be placed

George Babbitt of Sinclair Lewis' Babbitt

1765 words - 7 pages George Babbitt: Image of a Presbyterian        In Babbitt, Sinclair Lewis portrays religion as a corrupt business.  In fact, he emphasizes this by focusing on his main character George Babbitt.  George Babbitt is characterized as a businessman in Zenith.  He is a man preoccupied about his reputation and his image before the main leaders of the town he lives in.  Lewis creates a hypocritical figure for Babbitt through his reasons for

Key Elements of Sinclair Lewis' Babbitt

576 words - 2 pages Key Elements of Babbitt Sinclair Lewis, the author of Babbitt, devised several key literary elements to explain his full effect and purpose for writing his novel.  Babbitt is a satirist look at not only one man, but an entire society as well.  He exposes the hypocrisy and mechanization of American Society in the 1920's.  In the novel Lewis focuses on his main character Babbitt, the protagonist throughout much of

The 20s And Sinclair Lewis

1647 words - 7 pages The theme in books by Sinclair Lewis1 relates to the time in which they were written. In both Babbit (1922) and Main Street (1920) Lewis shows us the American culture of the 1920's. He writes about the growing cities, the small towns, the common American man, the strong American need to conform, cultural integration, morals (or lack of in some cases), and he touches upon the women lib movement. All of these and more successfully describe the

Babbit by Sinclair Lewis

1598 words - 6 pages Babbitt: Conformity In the Sinclair Lewis novel Babbitt, the character of Babbitt is completely controlled by the power of conformity. Conformity is so powerful that even after babbitt realizes the stifling nature of the society in which he lives he is powerless to change his fate as a member of conformist society.      George F. Babbitt is a man who is completely controlled by the conformist society in which he lives

Comparing The Simpsons and Aristophanes' Clouds

1937 words - 8 pages any Simpson's fan would enjoy. The only problem is this is not an episode of The Simpsons, and it will not be airing tomorrow. This synopsis did not come from the TV Guide, rather it is an updated version of Aristophanes' famous comedy, Clouds. Though it may come as a surprise, many of the elements of America's favorite cartoon are actually the same elements used by Aristophanes many centuries ago in his comedic drama, Clouds. There are many

The Idealization of Science in Sinclair Lewis' Arrowsmith

2550 words - 10 pages argues that its uncompromising ideals and attitudes should be admired and embraced by society in general. Notes: 1. Sinclair Lewis, Arrowsmith (New York: Signet Classics, 1980), 430. 2. Ibid., 37, 13. 3. Ibid., 36. 4. Laurence R. Veysey, The Emergence of the American University (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965), 174. 5. Robert V. Bruce, The Launching of Modern American Science 1846 - 1876 (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 187) 138, 137

Conspicuous Consumption in Sinclair Lewis' Babbit

2120 words - 8 pages Conspicuous Consumption in Sinclair Lewis' Babbit      The idea of conspicuous consumption, or buying unnecessary items to show one's wealth, can be seen in Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis.  Lewis describes the main character of the book, George F. Babbitt, as a person who has his values and priorities all mixed up.  Babbitt buys the most expensive and modern material goods just to make himself happy and make people around his aware of his

Satire and Hypocrisy: Literary Criticism of Lewis’ The Monk

689 words - 3 pages ." Campbell does not view Lewis in this light, but rather as a satirist of satire operating within the genre of satire, deconstructing the value of satire through satire itself as satire deconstructs the values of society. Lewis does this by allowing satire to proceed to its logical end within the novel: "the trajectory of satire, inwards and penetrating, is also that of the novel's narrative structure; Lewis penetrates forcibly into the Abbey, into

Comparing Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll and Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes

1974 words - 8 pages and Lewis Carroll in their texts, Don Quixote and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. While the texts follow two contrasting characters, they are brought together by the theme of fantasy. Cervantes’ Don Quixote is an old gentleman of noble lineage who becomes tired of the monotony and the lack of meaning in his life. Through his maddening and compulsive taste in books of chivalry, he concludes that the ideal life is that which is undertaken by a

Postmodernism and The Simpsons

8511 words - 34 pages not only aimed its religious satire at Christianity, but has dedicated entire episodes to satirizing other widespread religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism. Staying true to postmodernism's non-discriminating disposition, all religious metanarratives are equally vulnerable to attack by The Simpsons. Intertextuality and Loss of Historical Reality in The Simpsons One of the primary features of postmodernism in aesthetic production is the

Similar Essays

"Babbitt" By Sinclair Lewis Essay

549 words - 2 pages Paul.Riesling and Babbitt try to improve their unhappiness by taking a vacation in Maine together, but their enjoyment at their newfound freedom is short-lived. Both men experience a growing impulse to rebel against social conventions. When Babbitt discovers that Riesling is having an affair, he preaches the value of maintaining one's good social standing in the community. Soon thereafter, Riesling and Zilla have another argument; Riesling snaps

The Republican Party In Sinclair Lewis' Babbitt

2033 words - 8 pages The Republican Party in Sinclair Lewis' Babbitt          Sinclair Lewis' Babbitt portrayed a man bent on following his political party; his actions seemingly followed that religiously, and today's version of the Republican Party is proof that we are not too far off from Lewis' version, despite the expanse of time. George Babbitt, the main character in Lewis' novel, viewed the world in the eyes of a businessman. He saw immigrants as a

Teen Conformity In Sinclair Lewis' Babbitt And In Society Today

3332 words - 13 pages resistance (Ferguson). This of course would result in confrontation and leads to isolation.   The novel Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis certainly demonstrated the need for an individual to conform to social norms. The main character's son, Theodore Roosevelt Babbitt, or Ted, accurately represents how teenagers conform in order to feel a part of something. Ted often demonstrates the need to be different than his father and to be "up with the

The Power Of Conformity In The Novel "Babbitt" By Sinclair Lewis

1748 words - 7 pages In the Sinclair Lewis novel Babbitt, the character of Babbitt is completely controlled by the power of conformity. Conformity is so powerful that even after babbitt realizes the stifling nature of the society in which he lives he is powerless to change his fate as a member of conformist society.George F. Babbitt is a man who is completely controlled by the conformist society in which he lives. Pressure to conform lies in all aspects of Babbitt's