How do you write an analysis of a cartoon?

1 Answer

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The first thing you should do is to check whether your instructor has given you any sort of a rubric for how to analyze a cartoon.  If you have such a thing, follow it so that your analysis will include the things that your instructor wants to see.  If not, you can look at the rubric in the link below and use it to analyze the cartoon.

According to the link below, the first thing to do is to identify the aspects of the cartoon that are symbols or metaphors.  In your cartoon, these are the three boys, the things they are standing on, the fence in front of them, and the game they are trying to watch.  To analyze the cartoon, talk about these things and their meanings.  Why are the three boys of different heights?  I would argue that their different heights represent their different levels of talents or abilities.  Why are they standing on boxes?  I would argue that the boxes represent the amount of help they are supposed to get from the government and/or from society.  What does the fence represent?  I would argue that it represents the obstacles that make it hard to succeed in life. What does the game represent?  To me, it just represents success; the ability to see the game represents success in life.

After that, you are supposed to look for the following things: visual distortion, irony, and stereotypes or caricatures.  I do not see any of these things in this cartoon.  Do you?

Finally, you are supposed to look at how the cartoon “makes its case.”  This cartoon is not making its case very blatantly.  However, I would argue that it is making the case that “equality to a conservative” is not really equal or fair.  I think that we can see this from the fate of the littlest boy.  In the conservative side of the cartoon, that boy cannot see the game at all.  We can infer that he is sad about it as he does not have his arms up in joy or triumph.  All he can do is look at the fence.  This implies that equality to a conservative does not end up allowing everyone to succeed.  However, if we look to conservative beliefs, this is not an unfair portrayal of their view.  Conservatives believe that everyone should have an equal opportunity, not that they should be promised equal results. 

The rubric ends by asking how the cartoon can be challenged.  Clearly, this one’s message can be challenged.  The cartoon implies that the small boy has lesser abilities through no fault of his own.  But is that true or do poorer people fail to work hard enough to improve themselves?  In a conservative world, the smaller boy could make his own boxes instead of waiting for someone else to give them to him.  There are many arguments that could be made that would go against the message of this cartoon.

Hopefully, this can give you some idea of how to write your analysis.