Hilaire Belloc's The Modern Traveller is a delightful satire in verse, illustrated with hilarious line drawings that provide readers with extra chuckles. An analysis of The Modern Traveller should include some of the following points.
First, think about the work's structure. Belloc chooses to write in verse rather than prose, and this adds extra humor to the piece. The narrator, Mr. Rooter, is hardly the world's greatest poet. He flubs rhymes, messes up his rhythm, cannot seem to decide on his stanza lengths, fills his verses with asides in parentheses, and twists his words into a crazy syntax. Belloc himself is an excellent poet, so Mr. Rooter's errors are part of the satire, as Belloc invites us to snicker at this amateur whose attempts at poetry clearly overstep his skill. Notice, too, that even the footnotes are in rhyme! Further, the drawings included to illustrate the verse also add a good bit of humor. Just look at the one that shows four men playing cards and see how one of them is hiding a card under his coat tails.
Your analysis should also dig deeply into the meat of Belloc's satire. A satire is a literary work that uses sarcasm, irony, and humor to poke fun at the vices and foibles of people, societies, customs, governments, cultures, and so on. Belloc packs his work with satirical fun. Just look at the first line of the poem. The newspaper the reporter works for is called the Daily Menace. This title in itself gives us a good idea about what Belloc thinks about the media of his day. Through his characters, Commander Henry Sin and Captain William Blood, and the exploits of the trio, Belloc satirizes everything, from the military and corrupt government to commerce and social life. You may also want to comment on the importance of the characters' names, which send an important message in themselves, for Commander Sin embodies many qualities of a sinful nature, and Captain Blood does not hesitate to bleed people dry. Belloc also pays special attention and offers a special satirical vehemence against English imperialism in Africa as he shows the racism and bumbling nature of his three explorers in dealing with African peoples.
In fact, we can pinpoint a particular irony in how Belloc paints the African king who takes the three prisoner. This king is intelligent and articulate, even noticing the grammatical mistakes in Captain Blood's note. He makes the explorers look like the buffoons they are with his superior speech and shrewd behavior. He sees right through the ploys of his prisoners.
Belloc also pays particular attention to the self-serving attitudes of his three main characters. In so doing, he is poking fun at them but also nudging his readers' consciences a bit to make them think about times when perhaps they have been just as silly and pompous. That, too, is part of the job of a satire, to get readers to recognize their own vices and foibles and hopefully correct them.
Finally, pay attention to the attitudes of the narrator throughout the piece. Notice how he, with a hilarious false modesty, downplays his adventures even as he brags about them. He speaks, for instance, of seeing a sea serpent with a whale in its mouth during his voyage as well as a strange bird and a man-eating shark. But these are really no big deal, he implies. He is boasting, of course, and we get a hint that he is far from credible. Further, the narrator keeps on insisting that Commander Sin and Captain Blood would agree with him wholeheartedly if they were here. But they are not. They are dead. And Mr. Rooter can say whatever he pleases.