Dissecting Satire Essay

1732 words - 7 pages

John Marwood Cleese, an English actor, comedian, writer and film producer said, “If I can get you to laugh with me, you like me better, which makes you more open to my ideas. And if I can persuade you to laugh at the particular point I make, by laughing at it you acknowledge its truth”. The point he brings up is the ideology of satire. Satire, by definition, is a technique utilized by writers to expose and criticize foolishness and corruption of an individual or a society. This can be done by using humor, irony, exaggeration or ridicule ("Satire - Definition and Examples", para.1). Often times, the humor used opens the audiences’ minds to the underlying problem that the writer is trying to reveal. By examining the purpose and methods of satire, dissecting literary works, and displaying examples in the media, satire is shown to be a valuable tool.
Purpose and methods of satire
Satire can take on many different forms, but still convey the same meaning. Techniques such as grotesque humor, irony, inflation/diminution, and parody’s are all satirical devices ("Satire", para. 1). Grotesque humor creates a tension between laughter and horror; usually called black or dark humor. Its purpose is to shock the audience, and hopefully enlighten their eyes to the subject matter. Irony can often be confused as a synonym for satire. Irony though, is a literary device where there is an incongruity between what one says and does, and what one means. Irony is a form of satire. Inflation and diminution are techniques used to exaggeration the point made by the author. Diminution is taking a real-life situation and reducing it to make it ridiculous and showcase its faults. On the other hand, inflation is shown by taking a real-life situation and blowing it out of proportion to make it ridiculous and reveal its faults. Lastly, parodies are mimicking the style or technique someone else has already done, usually in a humorous form.
Classifying under two main categories, satire can either be Horatian and Juvenalian. Juvenalian is a harsher, more pointed form of satire. It often attacks particular people, sometimes hidden in fictional characters. Humor and ridicule are weapons for Juvenalian satire; it is angry, caustic, resentful, and personal (“Understanding Satire”, para. 1). On a more positive note, Horatian satire is a form of literary satire in which the author light heartedly pokes fun at human nature, less harshly. The emphasis is on humor, but still identifying the topic the author wants the audience to become aware of. An example of Horatian satire would be Jane Austens’ Pride and Prejudice, which lightly teases at the idea of other women’s literature of that time period. A Modest Proposal, on the other hand, would be a form of Juvenalian satire (“Understanding Satire”, para. 3).
Satire in literary works
The use of satire in literary works has always been a part of our culture, as well as other cultures of the world. Satire isn’t focused on how the author...

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