Literature and Philology
SATIRE is used in many works of literature to show foolishness or vice in humans, organizations, or even governments – it uses sarcasm, ridicule, or irony. For example, satire is often used to effect political or social change, or to prevent it.
Satire can be used in a part of a work or it can be used throughout an entire work.
The Many Faces of Satire
A satirist can direct the satire toward one individual, a whole country or even the world. It is sometimes serious, acting as a protest or to expose, or it can be comical when used to poke fun at something or someone.
Satire examples from media include:
•“Weekend Update” from Saturday Night Live
Satire commonly takes the form of mocking politicians. Consider the following examples of political satire.
First political cartoon in America:
It was one of the founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, who is credited with creating, and printing the first political cartoon in America. Franklin was attempting to rally support for his plan for an inter-colonial association, in order to deal with the Iraquois Indians at the Albany Congress of 1754.
Franklin’s cartoon depicts a snake, cut into pieces, with each piece representing one of the colonies. The cartoon was published in every newspaper in America, and had a major impact on the American conscience.
The words “Join, or Die” eluded to the Indian threat, but much of the effectiveness of this image was due to a commonly held belief at the time, that a dead snake could come back to life if the severed pieces were placed back together. Franklin’s cartoon effectively grabbed the American peoples minds, and implanted an idea that endured even though the Albany Congress turned out to be a failure.
The image of the snake became the symbol for colonial unification, and was transferred to the colonial battle flag “Don’t Tread on Me”, and became part of the American spirit.
Political Satire of Stephen Colbert:
“Tomorrow you’re all going to wake up in a brave new world, a world where the Constitution gets trampled by an army of terrorist clones, created in a stem-cell research lab run by homosexual doctors who sterilize their instruments over burning American flags. Where tax-and-spend Democrats take all your hard-earned money and use it to buy electric cars for National Public Radio, and teach evolution to illegal immigrants. Oh, and everybody’s high!”
“If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”
Satire in Literature
Satire of Mark Twain:
Satire can be found in literature as well. Consider the following explanation about satire in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was written shortly after the Civil War, in which slavery was one of the key issues. While Mark Twain’s father had slaves throughout his childhood, Twain did not believe that slavery was right in anyway. Through the character of Jim, and the major moral dilemma that followed Huck throughout the novel, Twain mocks slavery and makes a strong statement about the way people treated slaves. Miss Watson is revered as a good Christian woman, who had strong values, but she is a slave owner in the story. She owns a slave called Jim, who runs away upon hearing that Miss Watson might sell him to New Orleans.