Satire Examples

Satire Examples

Satire is often a term that you will hear if you’re watching shows like of Family Guy, South Park, and The Daily Show, or reading a copy of Private Eye, or Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, but what exactly does it mean? Does it have to be funny? Well the short answer is no, and the slightly longer answer is that it does not have to bring about a laugh whatsoever, as that is not the intention of satire. The satirist approaches a subject in a style that is intended to ridicule a particular individual or industry, (namely politic), and reveal follies of their character through artistic representation in an attempt to shame them into positive change. Jonathan Swift is a key example of what constitutes a satire. In 1729, he published an essay entitled A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People Being a Burthen to Their Parents of Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick. It was written as though seriously proposing to the people of Ireland, to which were dying of starvation, to eat their children so that you are free of hunger and indeed, the burden of another mouth to feed. Due to the dire situation in Ireland, Swift was able to liken the role of eating a child as being ‘Landlord food’, which can be sold to make quite a profit. It was intended to shame the British government into seizing their abuses. A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People Being a Burthen to Their Parents of Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick, is characterised as being Juvenalian satire. Named after the Roman Satirist, Juvenal, this particular type of satire is characterised as having a speaker truly attack errors with harshness and contempt which really a stark contrast from that of the Horatian satire, named after Horace who favoured a much gentler approach to the subject of absurdities, bringing about a smile rather than anger. The proposal sparked a great deal of controversy, which shows the limitations of the understanding of satire across a wider audience. Some politicians, however, took the proposal very seriously and indeed began to discuss its implementation in parliament. Swift managers to lead the audience down one street, referring to the horrible situation with the poor before switching half way through with his culinary solution, even offing cooking tips for the preparation of the youth. One of the key features of satire is that of the parody. Parody is imitative of particular characteristics which accompany a particular work or style. It is imitation for the point of humour and is incredibly powerful when ridiculing the institutions of politics and religion. Take Gulliver’s Travels once again. The people of Lilliput, the tiny villagers who Gulliver first meets on his travels, are at war with their neighbours, the Blefusco. the war began because the people of Blefusco eat their eggs differently from the smaller point to the larger base, whereas their rivals ate from the base to the smaller section. This, is reminiscent of the religious division within Ireland, where it is quite literally divided by Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. By pointing out the absurdities surrounding the notion of eating the same egg, but differently, has a much more series intention in that it allows the reader to truly see the madness of a conflict between two people who believe in the same god, and yet practice in a different way. Satire is not limited to writing, and, as the print-based satirist James Gillray demonstrates, it does not have to be political. The print of Very Slippery Weather is strangely as relevant today as it was when it was published in 1808. Gillray depicts a gentleman slipping in the street outside a shop that sells prints. The man’s wig has flown from his head as his rear connects sharply to the cobbled ground. In his hand is a barometer, which has certainly identified that it is raining, but has failed to prepare the gentleman from falling over. It is a jibe at the over reliance on technology in favour of common sense. This to some extent rings modern bells with the advent of the Sat Nav, and the numerous stories of individuals following the directions strait into a river because it assured them that there was a road there. It is not laugh out loud funny, but there is dryness to the humour that can certainly be appreciated. It is often through that satire can be misunderstood, as individuals tend to mistake the object of the satire to be that of the subject. There have been a number of controversies, for instance back in 2005 when the Danish cartoonist, Kurt Westergaard had his cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammad published. The cartoons represented the nature of wide spread anger that would result. Depicting Mohammad in a police line-up, where the ‘victim’ is unable to identify the culprit because of the lack of visual representation of the profit. This takes the form of Muhammad being positioned in the centre of two women in burkas with their eyes visible; whereas Muhammad’s eyes are censored by a black shape the fit the gaps in the burka to suggest anonymity for both angles. Westergaard also illustrates the taboo subject by inserting himself into the cartoons. The image depicts Westergaard drawing the cartoons with his hands covering the paper from any peering eyes in the dark. Satire as mentioned, runs throughout a number of mediums and can often be misunderstood. Its primary role is to improve the standards of declining individuals, and can be taken in two ways. You either laugh (or simply understand) that you are at fault and then go about to make the necessary changes, or you can be incredibly offended by it, which in turn highlights the issues that you are in error, and that you are mistaking the intention by the satirical subject. Satire Examples ‘During the course of these Troubles, the Emperors of Blefuscu did frequently expostulate by their Ambassadors, accusing us o making a Schism in Religion, by offending against a fundamental Doctrine of our great Prophet Lustrog, in the fifty-fourth Chapter of the Brundrecal, (which is their Alcoran). This, however, is thought to be a meer Strain upon the Text: For the Words are these; That all true Believers shall break their Eggs at the convenient End: and which is the convenient End, seems, in my humble Opinion, to be left to every Man’s Conscience, or at least in the Power of the Chief Magistrate to determine.’ Jonathan Swift – Gulliver’s Travels ‘I have reckoned upon a medium that a child just born will weigh 12 pounds, and in a solar year, if tolerably nursed, increaseth to 28 pounds. I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children.’ Jonathan Swift – A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People Being a Burthen to Their Parents of Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick

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