A blog for the comprehensive understanding of Literature, Applied Linguistics and ELT

November 18, 2009

Satire


Satire is a type of literary or dramatic work that uses sarcasm, wit and irony to ridicule and expose the follies and foibles of mankind, often in an attempt to reform society. Satire is related to parody in its intention to mock, but satire tends to be more subtle and to mock an attitude or a belief, whereas parody tends to mock a particular work (such as a poem) by imitating its style, often with purely comic intent. Both satire and parody are designed to appeal to the intellect rather than the emotions and both, to be effective, require a knowledge of the original attitude, person, or work that is being mocked (although much satire, such as Gulliver's Travels by Swift, can also be enjoyed simply on a literal level). The salient features of satire are as follows:
  • It intends to arouse ridicule, contempt, or disgust at abuses and weakness of man and his institution.
  • Its aim is to correct the malpractices by inspiring both indignation and laughter with a combination of criticism and wit.
  • Its mood may be light and playful or it may be malicious or merely mischievous.
  • In literary art the satirical mood appears in many forms – prose, verse, or drama.
Satires are often classified into the following types:

(1) Formal/direct satire: A formal or direct satire is one which is not mixed with other genres. In direct satire the author or the persona speaks in the first person directly to the reader. It can be again distinguished into the following types:

(i) Horatian satire: Horatian satire is named after ancient Roman writer Horace. This type of satire is gentle, amused and mildly corrective.

(ii) Juvenalian satire: Juvenalian satires named after another ancient Roman writer Juvenal. His satires are harsh, bitter, and full of moral indignation and contempt.

(2) Informal/indirect satire: In indirect satire the satirist creates a story or play peopled with characters who speak and act in a manner as if they were themselves targets of satire. Generally this type of satire is presented in the form other genres like – allegory, mock epic, satiric comedy or even satiric essay. Some example of indirect epics include: Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Pope’s Rape of the Lock, Eliot’s The Waste Land, O’Neil’s The Hairy Ape and Morrison’s The Bluest Eye.
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