Satire and Comedy Essay

5364 Words Dec 3rd, 2009 22 Pages
Satire is a term applied to any work of literature or art whose objective is ridicule. It has significant functions in social and political criticism. Satirical literature exposes foolishness in all its forms, such as vanity, hypocrisy, sentimentality etc. It also attempts to effect reform through such exposure.
Satirists, therefore, design a work of literature focusing on human or individual vices, follies, abuses, or shortcomings. They use satire as a literary technique to combat these vices and shortcomings, and "to censure by means of ridicule, derision, burlesque, irony or other methods" (New
Encyclopedia Britannica, 1993, 10, 467).
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That butt may be an individual (in "personal satire"), or a type of person, a class, an institution, a nation or even (as in
Rochester's "A Satyr against Mankind" and much of Swift's
Gulliver's Travels, especially Book IV) the whole race of man. The above definition emphasizes the principal notion of satire as a literary work in which human vice or folly are attacked through such techniques as irony, derision, or wit. Accordingly, it is the nature of satire "to ridicule man's naive acceptance of individuals and institutions at face value
(Feinberg, 1963:19)." It is also acknowledged that satire gives us pleasure, for it presents the subject matter to scrutiny through humorous ways.


Robert Harris (2004), points out that the best definitions of satire should be formulated from a combination of its corrective intent and its literary method of execution. He quotes Thrall's definition as an acceptable definition of satire as follows: A literary manner that blends a critical attitude with humor and wit to the end that human institutions or humanity may be improved. The true satirist is conscious of the frailty of institutions

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