Satire is the use of hyperbole, irony, and humor to critique people, institutions, and even social norms. The purpose of satire is to alert people to crucial problems in society and to encourage specific changes.
In The Devil and Tom Walker, Washington Irving uses satire to criticize greedy moneylenders, shrewish women, hypocritical leaders, and biased historians.
Tom's wife is described as "a tall termagant, fierce of temper, loud of tongue, and strong of arm. Her voice was often heard in wordy warfare with her husband." In the 18th century, it was believed that shrewish women exhibited traits antithetical to those expected of a refined woman. When Tom shares the story of his encounter with Old Scratch, Tom's wife demands that he "comply with the black man's terms and secure what would make them wealthy for life." For her part, Tom's wife decides to take things into her own hands when her husband perversely refuses to comply with her demands.
She goes and meets with Old Scratch himself, taking...
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