SATIRE Marsh9thEnglish.wordpress.com 20 1 DEFINITION OF SATIRE The
SATIRE Marsh9thEnglish.wordpress.com 20 1 DEFINITION OF SATIRE The word satire comes from the Latin satura meaning a dish filled with mixed fruits. This was the usual dessert tray after a banquet, and an early meaning for the word was to be well fed as seen in such cognates as sated, saturated, and satisfied.
20 2 ARISTOPHANES TO NICHOLS Aristophaness antiwar fourthcentury B.C. Lysistrata is a classic example of the lighter kind of satire that blends humor with a serious story. The story has an antiwar message, with the humor coming from the wives refusal to have relations with their husbands until they quit fighting. 20
3 DISTANCE FROM SATIRICAL TARGET To be effective, writers or performers must have a detachment from their target. Henry Rule confessed, In truth I dont ever seem to be in a good enough humor with anything to satirize it; no, I want to stand up before it and curse it, and foam at the mouth---or take a club and pound it to rags and pulp. 20
4 HORATIAN VS. JUVENALIAN SATIRE Gentle and humorous satire is called Horatian Satire after the writing style of the Roman poet Horace. Heavy or biting satire called Juvenalian Satire after the Roman poet Juvenal. 20 5
Lois Lowrys prize-winning childrens book The Giver is of Horatian Satire, as is George Orwells Animal Farm. These books both have anti-totalitarian messages just as does Orwells much heavier and grimmer 1984. But because Animal Farm comes closer to being Horatian satire with its nostalgic barnyard and its lovable set of farm animals, when it was first submitted to American publishers they missed the point and turned it down saying the prospective market for animal stories was too small.
20 6 One of the characteristics of Horatian satire is that it includes a higher percentage of humor. Jonathan Swifts Gullivers Travels is a Horatian Satire but his Modest Proposal is Juvenalian Satire. The complete title is, A Modest Proposal for Preventing the
Children of poor People in Ireland, from being a Burden to their Parents or Country; and for making them beneficial to the Publick. 20 7 Swifts Gullivers Travels is an account of Lemuel Gullivers voyages to Lilliput, Brobdingnag, Laputa, and the Country of the Houyhnhnms. It can be read as adventure stories, even by children.
Funny images from the stories remain in readers minds, such as the picture of Gulliver awakening to find himself pinned down by hundreds of threads placed on him by the tiny people of Lilliput and the image of his putting out the fire that was burning the Queens Palace by urinating on it. 20 8 In A Modest Proposal, Swift suggested that at the age of one year, poor Irish children should be sold as food to be eaten by landlords and other members of the upper class.
Irish mothers should be encouraged to let their children suck plentifully in the last Month, so as to render them plump, and fat for a good table. 20 9 A Child will make two Dishes at an Entertainment for Friends; and when the Family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable Dish; and seasoned with a little Pepper and Salt, will be very good Boiled on the fourth Day, especially in Winter.
Few people who read Swifts Modest Proposal ever forget it. Because it touches such deep psychic nerves, it illustrates the satirists major tool, which is playing with the emotions of readers or listeners. 20 10 The grimmer a story, the less likely it is that readers will miss the intended satire, but also, with such grim satires as Anthony Burgesss dystopian A Clockwork Orange, William Goldings anarchic Lord of the Flies, and Ray
Bradburys anticensorship Fahrenheit 451, if there is humor, it is black humor or irony. Readers shudder at these books if they think they are predicting the future, but Ray Bradbury has made it clear that he is trying to prevent, not predict, the future. It is this call to action that distinguishes satire from black or gallows humor. 20 11 INFORMAL VS. FORMAL SATIRE Satire can be divided into two
basic types: informal and indirect, as in stories, poems, plays, or novels; and explicit or formal, in which the satirist speaks directly to readers or listeners. Because explicit satire is more efficient, it is the kind most likely to be presented by comedians. 20 12 MENIPPEAN SATIRE Because of the extensive accumulation of details in Gullivers Travels and because
Swift is trying to influence mental attitudes as much as actual change, some critics identify Swifts Gullivers Travels as an example of Menippean satire, named after the Greek cynic Menippus. 20 13 RANGE OF SATIRE Satire has a long history and occurs across genres ranging from Aesops fables and Shel Silversteins poetry to Art Buchwalds newspaper columns and Paul Krassners newsletter The Realist.
It also includes political and social cartoons, such television programs as late-night talk shows and The Colbert Report, and such novels as C.S. Lewiss Screwtape Letters and Aldous Huxleys Brave New World. 20 14 SATIRE AND THE SHAMING PROCESS Matthew Hodgart in Satire wrote that in ancient Eskimo cultures, satirical prose and rhyme were used to shame individuals who had violated community standards.
The punishment was worse than a physical punishment because the criminal would be made to look foolish while the other villagers watched. 20 15 Hodgart also wrote that when going to war, the ancient Arabs would send a satirist from both sides into battle to see which satirist could be the most clever.
The morale of the two armies would be determined by the skill of their satirists, and occasionally a humiliated army would simply give up and retreat. Today Rap, HipHop and and other types of language play use satire in similar ways. 20 16 Shaming penalties are also meted out by cartoonists, comedians, and writers who use the mass media to make fun of individuals who have gone against behavioral codes,
whether in business, sex, or politics. Although most such jokes have as their immediate target one or two individuals who are involved in current scandals, the goal of the satirist is to capitalize on the publics interest in a current event to shape societys long-term attitudes and behaviors. 20 17 SATIRE AS A SOCIAL CORRECTIVE Edgar Johnson in The Anatomy of Satire
praises satire as a corrective for bad behavior. If we ever become civilized, he writes, It will probably be satire almost as much as poetry that will have accomplished it. Arthur Pollard in Satire says that satirists move readers to criticize and condemn through various emotions ranging from laughter through ridicule, contempt and anger to hate. The feelings that are evoked will depend on the seriousness of the faults being attached as well as the authors view of the gap between the ideal and reality. 20 18 SATIRE VS. GALLOWS
HUMOR Satirists may use their humor to inspire reform and change, or they may use it to promote the status quo. If the creators of satire dont have a reform or a solution in mind but are simply holding up an aspect of the world as ridiculous, then they are creating irony or gallows humor rather than satire. 20 19 SOCIAL SATIRE
Social satirists follow in the tradition of Mark Twain and Will Rogers. The sacrosanct tenets of the Establishment are rings on a dartboard to the socially conscious comedian, whose sole mission is to make you think before you laugh. There are three types of social satirists, the Instigator, The Politico, and The Sage. 20 20 UTOPIAS AND DISTOPIAS
A technique often used in satirical novels is the contrast between utopian and dystopian societies. The author usually introduces what at first appears to be a utopian society, but which the reader soon realizes is actually grotesque or dystopian. 20 21
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