Satire Essay, Research Paper

On Basis Of Our Reading, What Would Your Definition Of Satire

Be? Explain In Detail Why.??? ?An

exaggerated, often witty or ironic, indirect approach to express one?s opinions

or disgust with the aim to ridicule a desired victim.?? This is my definition of satire and

hopefully satisfies the areas of satire that need to be explained. ???

The satirical text written by Jonathon Swift in 1729 fit the above

description perfectly. The piece I refer to is ?A Modest Proposal?. He wrote

about cannibalism but more precisely the consumption of young babies. He stated

that many children belonging to poor families were a burden and that by selling

or eating them could make them beneficial to the Irish public. This is an

outrageous statement and highly unlikely that Swift actually believed that this

method would really help the public at this difficult time. So this fits the

criteria in the first part of my definition. A Modest Proposal was exaggerated

and ironic. ??? This then leads me onto ?indirect

approach?. At the time that Swift writes, he lived in Ireland. The fact that he

could read and write alone was a rarity and showed his stature and importance

well. The English had taken control of Ireland and the potato famine had now

struck the nation. ??? The piece was published in English

newspapers and some took its literal meaning: that Irish were turning in to

cannibals. Others saw the use of satire. This makes it an indirect approach to

ridicule the English, the desired victim in this case. ??? I kept my definition brief because to

describe the uses and methods would take a far more educated than myself. Upon

reading further definitions a phrase caught my eye, which also defines satire

well but briefly: ??? ??An artfully developed assault on a

topic or idea? ??? This is good definition but only scrapes

the surface of what satire really is. ??? Although the dates of these quotes are not

known (so a comparison concerning the date cannot be made) a general pattern is

followed:??? ?(Leonard Feinberg) Satire is a playfully

critical distortion of the familiar.? ??? ?(Molly Irvins) Satire is traditionally

the weapon of the powerless against the powerful.? ??? Both these quotes describe A Modest

Proposal well. Irvins is right in that Swift was a powerless civilian trying to

ridicule the English government. Feinberg also showed accuracy as Swift did

actually distort the familiar occurrences in Ireland.? Molly Irvins? quote is backed by several other similar quotes. ??? ?(W.H Auden) I have no gun but I can

spit? is a good example. This basically means that despite not having a

weapon (power) I can still make a difference. This demonstrates that the most

common satirists are powerless people. ??? A dictionary definition is shown below and

should hypothetically be the most accurate of all definitions given: ??? Satire: Poem, prose or composition, in

which prevailing vices or follies are held up to ridicule. ??? Charles Dickens was probably the most

admired, inspirational and successful author in the Victorian era. I believe

that he used this fame to attack the education policies in England. Hard Times

was a satirical novel and did just that. I believe that through the character

of Gradgrind he aimed to ridicule the education policies. ??? Gradgrind beliefs are that education should

be about facts and nothing else. His understanding is that without statistics

and calculations education will deteriorate. ??? ?NOW, what I want is Facts. Teach these

boys and girls nothing but facts. Facts alone are wanted in life?? ??? The importance of the facts is indicated

by a capital letter. This hypothesis of education leaves students with no

practice in using creativity or imagination, which is what I believe that

Dickens disagrees with, especially being an author. ??? Siegfried Sassoon also wrote a famous

satirical composition but this was after 1900 and was called ?The General?. The

poem doesn?t try to put it?s meaning across indirectly but is a demonstration

of satire none the less. The poem begins describing the cheerful moods that the

soldiers and the Generals possessed at the start of the war. The later part of

the poem is discriminating the General?s judgement, attitude, lack of care and

general incompetence: ??? ?(Cheerful moods:) ?Good morning, good

morning? the General said.? The changeover in the mood of the poem is evident

in these two lines. ??? ??Now the soldiers he smiled at are most

of them dead. And we?re cursing his staff for incompetent swine?? This

changeover in moods is an indication to the public of how quickly the war was

over for some people and that the war was not as great as people made it out to

be. This, although, not indirect is witty and has a clear objective which is to

ridicule the English government and the people in charge at the time of World

War 2. There is however another adjective that was in my original definition

that isn?t used in Sassoon?s composition. This is ?exaggerated?. It is unfair

and immoral to say that Sassoon?s poem was exaggerated as some terrible and

shocking happenings occurred in the Second World War. Therefore to judge what

is exaggerated or not may cause offence to the soldier?s who fought.? ??? There are many other examples of satire,

thousands in fact across the world today. Television programmes such as ?Have I

Got News For You?, ?Goodness Gracious Me? and ?Harry Enfield And Chums? all use

satire in vast amounts to attract viewers. Have I Got News For You for example

exaggerates the current headlines and twists the headlines into something

humorous. This particular programme exaggerates the truth, is immensely witty

and aims to ridicule several desired victims. ??? The texts written before 1900 tend to try

to attack the Government. I think this is because of the class divisions at the

times. Jonathon Swift, for example, lived in an era where there was a huge

class difference, as did Charles Dickens. After the social reform in England,

which occurred after the Boer War, things started to change and the class

divisions although still existent were far less noticeable. When Sassoon wrote,

at the outbreak of the war, the gap slightly increased between working and

upper classes. This was because the Government was needed to defend the country

and organise the war tactics and therefore the public was hugely dependent on

it?s government. I believe that as times have progressed satire is used mainly

as a source of humour. The Adbusters ( site was a site hosting

?spoof adverts?. Adverts were made to ridicule large firms such as McDonalds

and Calvin Klein. The designers of the advertisements believed that firms such

as these were giving an unbalanced diet and forcing youths to spend money on

their appearances and that their looks was the only important factor in life.

Through these images they aimed to ridicule the companies. They did this

however in a humorous way, which would attract people to look at the images. ??? Generally I have found that uses of satire

before 1900 are very serious and are more often than not, trying to attack the

government at the time. After 1900 hundred, except in a few cases, the main

uses of satire is to produce humour. ? Simran Mahon 10SWord Count: 1200 words

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