Satire In The Eighteenth Century Essay

825 words - 3 pages

Satire in the Eighteenth Century

    New ideas, original thoughts, and fresh interpretations characterized the spirit of the eighteenth century. Science was flourishing, and therefore it brought new discoveries that challenged the traditional dominating force of religion.  Influential figures of the age, such as Voltaire, Jonathan Swift, and William Hogarth, strove to assure human betterment and advance human thinking through truth and humorous criticism.  They employed the use of satire in order to accomplish their common goal.


According to A Handbook of Literary Terms, satire is defined as "a work or manner that blends a censorious attitude with humor or wit for improving human institutions or humanity" (Harmon and Holman 461).  The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics further asserts that satire is "both a mode of discourse or vision that asserts polemical or critical outlook, and also a specific literary genre, embodying that mode in either prose or verse" (Preminger and Brogan 1114).  In essence, satire emerges as a device to successfully diagnose human faults and offer a cure for society.


Satire often includes abuse, sarcasm, irony, mockery, exaggeration, and understatements.  Arguably Voltaire's most famous work, Candide presents a string of characters laced in exaggeration.  For example, the Baron's lady was not only a large presence, but she weighed a striking three hundred and fifty pounds.  Furthermore, the Baron's castle was considered a monument of prestige, "for his house had a door and several windows and his hall was actually draped in tapestry" (Voltaire 19).  It is apparent that the use of the hyperbole, among other elements, played a crucial role in the potency of satire.


Satirical works can often be united by common themes.  Anti-feminism, governmental reform, religious dissension, peace, social perversity, duplicity, idiosyncrasy, and poverty are frequently highlighted in works of satire.  Jonathan Swift's novel Gulliver's Travels mocks the English system of government with the dwarfed civilization of Lilliput ("Swift Biography").  He parallels the Lilliputian emperor to the English monarch and stresses the segregation of English courts.  The narrator, Gulliver, states his natural disposition: "I had been hitherto all my life a stranger to the courts, for which I was unqualified by the meanness of my condition" (Swift 78).  Moreover, the biased charges of treason that befell Gulliver were Swift's weapon of caviling against English monarchy.


Satire was not limited to literature.  Prominent artists such as William Hogarth used...

Find Another Essay On Satire in the Eighteenth Century

The Value of Currency in Eighteenth Century England

2354 words - 9 pages Sutton Publ., 1987 - - - . Moll Flanders. Mineola: Dover, 1996. George, M. Dorothy. Hogarth to Cruikshank: Social Change in Graphic Satire. London: Viking, 1987. Mays, James O'Donald. The Splendid Shilling: A Social History of an Engaging Coin. Burley: Pardy & Son, 1982. Porter, Roy. English Society in the Eighteenth Century. London: Penguin, 1990.

Colonial American In The Eighteenth Century 1701 - 1770.

818 words - 3 pages The Enlightenment is a name given by historians to anintellectual movement that was predominant in the Western world duringthe 18th century. Strongly influenced by the rise of modern scienceand by the aftermath of the long religious conflict that followedthe Reformation, the thinkers of the Enlightenment (called philosophersin France) were committed to secular views based on reason or humanunderstanding only, which they hoped would provide a

Sodomy and Prostitution in Eighteenth-Century London

1222 words - 5 pages Sodomy and prostitution had similar public status in eighteenth-century London, and are vices that have likely existed since the humans began living in collective societies. Social and legal perceptions of these two acts, or lifestyles, have varied greatly through time and culture. The legal and social perceptions of sodomy and prostitution in eighteenth-century London were studied extensively by Randolph Trumbach of Baruch College, City

The Changing Roles of Women in Society, Beginning in the Late Eighteenth Century

1253 words - 5 pages The late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century were times in American history that screamed for reform. The nation was undergoing several changes that would mark the beginning of the country's future. It was the time leading up to the Industrial Revolution where society was changing at an incredibly fast pace. As a result of the boom in new technology, the roles of Americans dramatically changed, especially those of women. Society

The Economic Changes in England During Eighteenth Century That Caused The Industrial Revolution

2637 words - 11 pages . (Squitiere) Finally, England's government always supported England's economy; however, the government supported the economy even more once the industrial revolution began. The government created new policies in order to create further economic gain. (Squitiere)The economy changed radically because of the Industrial Revolution in eighteenth century England. The Industrial Revolution resulted in many changes in England's economy socially and

Why did contemporaries engage in such fierce debate over the impact of eighteenth century enclosure?

3383 words - 14 pages Why did contemporaries engage in such fierce debate over the impact of enclosure in eighteenth century England?The eighteenth century carried a number of problems including inflation, the effects of the French wars, the growth of industry and the demand for more food and this compelled farmers to use all available land in a more productive manor. The main obstacle to improvements in agriculture was thought to be the open field system of farming

A City Endlessly Rewritten: Some Versions and Appropriations of Rome in the Long Eighteenth Century

5861 words - 23 pages A City Endleѕѕly Rewritten: Ѕome Verѕionѕ and Appropriationѕ of Rome in the Long Eighteenth CenturyIntroductionAt firѕt glance, it may ѕeem that no common theme linkѕ theѕe bookѕ; they approach Rome from many directionѕ, each author focuѕing on divergent topicѕ. However, they all agree that eighteenth-century writerѕ filter evidence about ancient

Perceptions and Reality in Eighteenth Century Popular Press

1713 words - 7 pages , however, a product of the modern age. Writers have long portrayed this idea in a variety of texts ranging from histories, to plays, to daily news publications. Two texts serve to highlight this concept as it was practiced in eighteenth century England, The Newgate Calendar, and The History of the Remarkable Life of John Sheppard. Each recounts a separate tales of criminal acts during this period. While each account paints a picture of extensive

The Agriculture and Industrial Revolutions of the Eighteenth Century

791 words - 3 pages and to pay their landowners. People living in the Northwestern part of Europe would wait later to get married and to have children. Because of this, no three generations lived in the same household and illegitimate births were very rare. In Eastern Europe, things were just the opposite. People generally married sooner and there fore had larger households consisting of multiple generations in one household. As we get closer to the eighteenth century

A Look at the Tattoo from the Late Eighteenth Century to Contemporary Times in the Western World.

2684 words - 11 pages this is merely a temporal construct subject to the ideals of our time. Tattooing can also be used as a significant sign of being robbed of bodily autonomy.Varied peoples and civilisations have employed the practise of tattooing for over two thousand years (Schwarz http2). It would seem that the tattoo is a universal type body modification. Tattooing, at least the open practice of it, disappeared in the West until around the mid to late eighteenth

To What Extent did the Values of the Enlightenment Fuel an 'Industrial Revolution' in Britain in the Late Eighteenth Century and Early Nineteenth Century?

1751 words - 7 pages Also known as 'The Age of Reason', the Enlightenment is a term used to describe a period emerging from centuries of darkness and ignorance into a new age enlightened by reason, science, and a respect for humanity. Although the Enlightenment is usually associated with the eighteenth century, it's roots go back much further and it is important to understand how the values of the enlightenment were shaped. Works such as Essay Concerning Human

Similar Essays

Britain In The Eighteenth Century Essay

2275 words - 9 pages Britain in the Eighteenth Century In the eighteenth century, Britain was a very different country, both industrially and agriculturally. Today's major cities such as London and Birmingham were a fraction of the size that they are today. There were no major factories, with the eighteenth century equivalent running on power generated from waterwheels. There were no roads, just dirt tracks, and all farming was done

India In The Eighteenth Century Essay

1612 words - 6 pages India in the Eighteenth Century ‘ The eighteenth century saw not so much the decline of the Mughal ruling elite, but its transformation and the ascent of inferior social groups to over political power’. Christopher Bailey examines the changing degree of influence of the Nobility. This is linked to the decline in economic power, as witnessed by the breakdown of the system of assignments that was the Nobility’s instrument of subsistence

Serfdom And Autocracy In The Eighteenth Century

945 words - 4 pages Czarist Russia Gennady Shkliarevsky Spring 2010 In the eighteenth century, Muscovy was transformed into a partially westernized and secularized Russian state as a result of the rapid and aggressively implemented reforms of Peter the Great (1694-1725). Yet Peter I’s aspirations to bring Europe into Russia became problematic at the end of his reign, when his efforts eventually culminated in an absolutist autocracy and an entrenchment of

Femininity In Eighteenth Century England Essay

1749 words - 7 pages Concepts of femininity in eighteenth-century England guided many young women, forging their paths for a supposed happy future. However, these set concepts and resulting ideas of happiness were not universal and did not pertain to every English woman, as seen in Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice. The novel follows the Bennet sisters on their quest for marriage, with much of it focusing on the two oldest sisters, Jane and Elizabeth. By