Definition of satire
Satire maybe defined as a genre of literature. A feature of satire is the strong dramatic use of emotions and words to highlight the follies and foibles of humanity, society or an individual.
How is satire used in literature or in art forms?
The four elements of satire are :
- Reversal – Satire uses reversal to present the opposite of the normal order. Reversal can focus on the order of events, or the hierarchical order.
- Parody – To imitate the techniques and/or style of some person, place, or thing in order to ridicule the original. But it is required to have an original frame of reference for the reader or the audience to understand the parody.
- Exaggeration – To enlarge, increase or represent something beyond normal bounds so that it becomes ridiculous and its faults can be seen. Caricature is the exaggeration of a physical feature or trait. Cartoons are an example of this. Burlesque is the ridiculous use of language, for example, characters speak differently and out of character.
- Incongruity – To present things that are out of place or are absurd in relation to its surroundings. Particular techniques include oxymoron, metaphor and irony.
Different types of satire
Satire has been in existence since early Roman writing and performance arts. The word satire is derived from the phrase, lanx satura, meaning medley.
The Roman writers Horace (Horatian Satire) and Juvenal (Juvenalian Satire) by their practice have left an indelible mark on formal satirical verse writing. Through their writings, they devised loosely defined rules of satire.
Roman satire is of two types – Comical satire and tragical satire
Nicolas Boileau, Dryden and Alexander Pope’s writings in the 17th and 18th century have contributed to the modern age of satire, influencing satire writing styles.
Although satire is a complex writing form and difficult to classify, it is classified based on the writers who have contributed significantly, on the medium that it is conceived for and the topics that it depicts.
Satirical writings have also been discovered in ancient Egyptian papyrus rolls, dating from 2nd millennium BC.
The Greeks had no formal word for satire, although the term cynicism and parody has been used in writings. Greek playwright Aristophanes, is one of the best known early playwright.
Another type of satire is Menippean satire which is usually in the form of prose with its central focus on mental attitudes and not individuals or entities. It is named after the Greek parodist Menippus. His works have influenced other early Greek and Roman writers.
Difference between Irony, Sarcasm and Satire
- Irony – Irony maybe defined as describing situations that are strange or funny because things happen, in a way that seems to be the opposite of what an audience or reader expects.
- Sarcasm – Sarcasm depends on addressing an issue indirectly and generally uses a comparative point of reference. It uses bitterness, rudeness, harshness to drive a point.
- Satire – Satire uses emotional or attitudinal exaggeration humour to ridicule a situation or a society or an individual.
Famous works in satire
- The Animal Farm
- Don Quixote