Recognizing and Analyzing Satire
At the heart of any good satire is a voice calling for change.
Much as in other forms of writing, satire doesn’t tell the reader someone is stupid, or something needs to be changed. It shows them.
Satire is a literary technique of writing or art which principally ridicules its subject (individuals, organizations, states) often as an intended means of provoking or preventing change. Satire is not exclusive to any viewpoint. Parody is a form of satire that imitates another work of art in order to ridicule it.
There are several types of satire: • Diminution: Reduces the size of something in order that it may be made to appear ridiculous or in order to be examined closely and have its faults seen close up. For example, treating the Canadian Members of Parliament as a squabbling group of little boys is an example of diminution. Gulliver's Travels is a diminutive satire. • Inflation: A common technique of satire is to take a real-life situation and exaggerate it to such a degree that it becomes ridiculous and its faults can be seen, and thus satirical. For example, two boys arguing over a possession of a car can be inflated into an interstellar war. The Rape of the Lock is an example of inflation. • Juxtaposition: Places things of unequal importance side by side. It brings all the things down to the lowest level of importance on the list. For example, if a guy says his important subjects in school include Calculus, Computer Science, Physics, and girl-watching, he has managed to take away some of the importance of the first three. The Rape of the Lock is also an example of juxtaposition. • Parody: Imitates the techniques and style of some person, place, or thing. Parody is used for mocking or mocking its idea of the person, place, or thing. Monty Python is an example of parody.
Tools of Satire: 1. Exaggeration: hyperbole and/or understatement To enlarge, increase, or represent something beyond normal bounds so that it becomes ridiculous and its faults can be seen.
2. Irony To present things that are out of place or are absurd in relation to surroundings.
3. Reversal To present the opposite of the normal order (e.g., the order of events, hierarchical order).
4. Parody: To imitate the techniques and/or style of some person, place, or thing.
5. Cynicism - the ability to look askance at something, or someone and offer an opinion contrary to the status quo is a great tool for satire
6. wit, ridicule, derision
7. Double-entendre - saying one thing and (clearly) meaning another. Most of us recognize this when used with bawdy topics. Can you do it with politics?
The theme of satire must be the maintenance of standards, the reaffirmation of values, and the necessity of reform. http://www.virtualsalt.com/satire.htm 1 http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/39.html Certain specific literary techniques and constructions lend themselves easily to satire because they can contain a measure both of wit and humor, and of the necessary irony or satiric association; among them are exaggeration, distortion, understatement, innuendo, paronomasia, zeugma, ambiguity, as well as simile, metaphor, oxymoron, parable, and allegory.
Understatement is the converse of exaggeration and is useful in cases where the evil is already so great that it can scarcely be exaggerated. The mention of the evil by understatement serves to call attention to its true degree. Thus the idea of insensitivity to brutality is well conveyed in a noted passage from Swift: "Last Week I saw a Woman flay'd, and you will hardly believe, how much it altered her Person for the worse" (Tale of a Tub IX).
Zeugma (or, as in the following example, syllepsis) has satiric worth because of its structural equating of things of greatly differing value. Note how effective it is in the third and fifth lines of this quote from "Rape of the Lock: Canto II":
Whether the Nymph shall break Diana's Law, Or some frail China Jar receive a Flaw, Or stain her Honour, or her new Brocade Forget her Pray'rs, or miss a Masquerade, Or lose her Heart, or Necklace, at a Ball; Or whether Heav'n has doom'd that Shock must fall. (ll. 105-10)
The purpose of Pope's zeugma here is to show that "modern" girls think losing one's honor and soiling one's dress are disasters of exactly equal import: conveyed thus cleverly, the message is much more powerful than whole pages of proofs.
Again satirizing modern girls, Pope uses the list to show their attitude toward religion and the Bible; and the two-line list seems to say more than a good deal of prose explanation:
And now, unveil'd, the Toilet stands display'd, Each Silver Vase in mystic Order laid...... Here Files of Pins extend their shining Rows, Puffs, Powders, Patches, Bibles, Billet-doux. (Pope, "Rape" I.121-22, 137-38)
The Bible not only shrinks in significance to the level of dressing table clutter, but it also seems almost buried in the midst of everything else: To the modern girl, it is probably not as useful as a Powder, nor as interesting as a Billet-doux, so it will be seldom avidly sought out.
Satire tending to tragedy was the particular province of Juvenal, of The nature of Satire was summed up very neatly by Joseph Hall :
The Satyre should be like the Porcupine, That shoots sharpe quils out in each angry line, And wounds the blushing cheeke, and fiery eye, Of him that heares, and readeth guiltily.
http://www.virtualsalt.com/satire.htm 2 http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/39.html