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Assignment Two: Satire


Task One:  Read the definition of satire and the section on satirical devices.

Task Two:  (i) Look at the print and video examples of satire below and determine what kind of satire is being used in each case.  (ii) What is the most common form of satire, in your opinion?

Task Three: Find (or create) two more examples of satire, using devices not found in the examples provided on this page.


(i) Definition of satire:

1. the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.
2. a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule.
3. a literary genre comprising such compositions.

(ii) Satirical devices

1.  Irony - the actual intent is expressed in words which carry the opposite meaning.  It is lighter, less harsh in wording than sarcasm, though more cutting because of its indirectness.  The ability to recognize irony is one of the surest tests of intelligence and sophistication.  Irony speaks words of praise to imply blame and words of blame to imply praise.  Writer is using a tongue-in-cheek style.  Irony is achieved through such techniques as hyperbole and understatement.

            A.  Verbal Irony - simply an inversion of meaning

B.  Dramatic Irony - when the words or acts of a character carry a meaning unperceived by himself but understood by the audience.  The irony resides in the contrast between the meaning intended by the speaker and the added significance seen by others.

C.  Socratic Irony - Socrates pretended ignorance of a subject in order to draw knowledge out of his students by a question and answer device.  Socratic irony is feigning ignorance to achieve some advantage over an opponent.

D.  Situational Irony - Depends on a discrepancy between purpose and results .  Example:  a practical joke that backfires is situational irony.


2. Travesty - presents a serious (often religious) subject frivolously and reduces everything to its lowest level. 


3.  Burlesque - ridiculous exaggeration achieved through a variety of ways.  For example, the sublime may be absurd, honest emotions may be turned to sentimentality.  STYLE is the essential quality in burlesque  A style ordinarily dignified may be used for nonsensical matters, etc.


4.  Parody - a composition imitating or burlesquing another, usually serious, piece of work.  Designed to ridicule in nonsensical fashion an original piece of work.  Parody is in literature what the caricature and cartoon are in art.

TRAVESTY, BURLESQUE & PARODY are similar, but travesty always makes a mockery of a serious subject, whereas burlesque and parody may do the reverse.


5.  Farce - exciting laughter through exaggerated, improbable situations.  This usually contains low comedy:  quarreling, fighting, coarse language with horseplay, noisy singing, boisterous conduct, trickery, clownishness, drunkenness, and slap-stick.


6.  Invective - harsh, abusive language directed against a person or cause.  Invective is a vehicle, a tool of anger.  Invective is the bitterest of all satire.


7.  Sarcasm - a sharply mocking or contemptuous remark.  The term came from the Greek word “sarkazein” which means “to tear flesh.”


8.  Knaves & Fools - in comedy there are no villains and no innocent victims.  Instead, there are rogues (knaves) and suckers (fools).  The knave exploits someone “asking for it”.  When these two interact, comic satire results.  When knaves & fools meet, they expose each other.


9.  Malapropism - a deliberate mispronunciation of a name or term with the intent of poking fun.

(source for satirical devices: http://home.flash.net/~ghoyer/comedy/SATIRE%20AND%20SATIRICAL%20DEVICES.htm


(iii) Satirical readings

Advice to Youth by Mark Twain

Tom Tomorrow:  An Example of Satire

Satire in Canada (weekly digest of satire in Canada's media)

The Onion (satirical news magazine) 


(iv) satirical videos

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(v) satirical cartoons








12 English 


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