Satire | 4 kinds & examples in literature

Satire is a literary term used to criticize upon the person, institution or some idea in a humorous way to point out faults or weaknesses. Here the readers will find the definition of satire, 4 examples of satire , political satire and satire use in literature.

Origin

Originated from the Latin word satur and was first known used in 1501.

Definition

It is a literary term used to criticize upon the person, institution or some idea in a humorous way to point out faults or weaknesses. It is opposite to irony which is used for indirect criticism. It is a literary weapon which intends to rouse mockery, disdain or repugnance at misconducts of a man and malpractices of the institutions.

It is also used to entertain readers. Writers use satire in their novels, essays, films, poems, cartoons & memes in order to indicate errors of some institution before the people or to show some incorrect political decision.

Devices use in Satire:

• Verbal irony
• Parody
• Anachronism
• Understatement
• Overstatement

Verbal irony: Speaker speaks words different to what he means.

Parody: It is imitation of style used for exaggeration and to create comic effect.

Anachronism: The thing is attributed to that period which actually is not belongs to.

Understatement: In this device, the actual thing is described while underestimating it.

Overstatement: Actual thing is told by making exaggeration.

Kinds of Satire

There are four kinds of satire.

  1. Horatian
  2. Juvenalian
  3. Menippean
  4. Romantic

Horatian: It is a witty or informal type of taunt which is used to enjoy rather than hate human follies.

Juvenalian: It is serious type of satire which is used to indicate human error so that he may correct himself.

Menippean: It is not a usual sense satire, however relates to some topic. This type of satire is used by employing all the literary modes.

Romantic: Lord Byron originated this type of satire. He made satire upon the hypocritical morality of his contemporaries.

Examples in Literature:

“Rape of the Lock” by (Alexander Pope)

Now lap dog’s give themselves’ the rowzing shake,
and sleepless lover’s just at Twelve, awake’.
Think not when woman’s transient breath’ is fled,
That all her Vanities at once are dead.
With varying Vanities from every part,
they shift the moving toyshop of their’ heart.

Pope used social satire in this poem. He satirized not only the individual but against the follies of fashionable men and women as a whole. The writer has shown the woman frivolity and errors to the readers. In the novel, he satirized the idleness of noble woman through his character ‘Belinda’.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

All men are enemies,
we must not resemble them,
no animal must ev’r tyrannize’ his own

All animals are equal,
but some animals are more equal than others.

The creature’s outside looked from pig to man,
And from man to pig,
And from pig to man again;
but already it was impossible to say which was which.

Throughout the play, the Russian Revolution and its affects have been discussed. ‘Orwell’ used political satire by comparing animals to humans. He presented the concept of communism according to which all humans are equal in the society but with the changing situation after Russian Revolution, the powers went into the hands of some selected persons. The writer used the tool of humorous satire by comparing the political ideals with animals.

Gulliver Travel by Jonathan Swift

I had the evening before drunk plentifully of a most delicious’ wine called glimigrim (the Blefuscudians call it flunec but our’s is esteemed the bett’r sort) which is very diuretic. By the luckiest’ chance in the world, I had not discharged myself of any part of it. The heat I had contracted by coming very near the flames, and by laboring to quench them, made the white wine begin to operate by urine, which I voided in such a quantity, and applied so well to the proper places, that in three minutes the fire was wholly extinguished, and the rest of that noble pile, which had cost so many ages in erecting, preserved from destruction.

In Part-1 of the book, ‘Swift’ made minor satirical attacks. He provides readers a comfortable atmosphere by describing how ‘Gulliver’ saved the palace and the King’s wife is hysterical.

having taken the height of my body by the help of a quadrant and finding it to exceed their’s in the proportion of twelve to one they concluded from the similarity of their bodies that mine must contain at least 1728 of theirs, and consequently would require as much fo’d as was necessary to support that number of Lilliputians.

Here ‘Swift’ mocks the Lilliputians ignorance and arrogance by describing how mathematicians of Lilliput measured Gulliver’s height with the help of a quadrant. He has made splendid use of technique of the verbal irony in this this laughable and mind provoking ordinary ironic narration to attain the effects of satire.

“A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift

This satiric essay was written by the ‘Swift’ by considering the Irish economy situation. He highlighted the poverty, bad situation of Ireland and rule of England over the Irish people. He claimed that England is responsible for the catastrophic situation of Ireland.

I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing and wholesome food whether stewed, roasted, baked or boiled, and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee.

What is Political Satire?

It is a satire that is used to obtain entertainment from the politics. It is different from the protest or political dissent as it does not carry out any agenda and also does not seek any political influence. It only highlights the errors made by the political regime and does not provide it’s constructive solution.

In ancient literatures the public while performing at theatre and poets through their work used this literary technique which had affect upon the politics. In 20th and 21st centuries, the mode of satire has been changed and now the same is done through social media by displaying political cartoons in order to show the political scandals. Different television shows have also been performed to highlight the political satire.

Difference between Satire and Humor:

Humor’ is simply called the funny statement which has been produced by using wit, irony, sarcasm, hyperbole and exaggeration.

Satire’ is really called criticism. Satire may be of two kinds. First, Horatian, that produces humor and second Juvenalian, which is used to bitterly criticize something or some fault of humans.

Further Reading

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