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Satire is humorous writing or speech intended to point out errors, falsehoods, foibles, or failings. It is written for the purpose of reforming human behavior or human institutions. A good example of political satire is Joseph Heller’s “Catch 22.” This is a satire of war and what war does to humanity. “Elmer Gantry” by Sinclair Lewis was a social satire that railed against self- righteousness and the values of Midwestern small town life. Günter Grass’s “Tin Drum” is another social satire.
“Satire began with the early Greek poets when they were supposed to tax weaknesses and correct vice. As a distinct literary form, satire was the creation of the Romans and was subsequently present in many forms of medieval literature. In The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer used this technique for “The Miller’s Tale” and “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale.” During the Renaissance, satire was more often prose rather than poetry. The Golden Age of Satire in England was the early Eighteenth Century when Henry Fielding, Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, John Gay and others dominated British letters.
In the Twentieth Century, satire includes George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984 which satirized political situations and the status quo, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World which satirized utopian dreams. “
Johnathan Swift's 'Gulliver's Travels' and George Orwell's 'Animal Farm' are two better known examples of the satire (both political allegories. Although Orwell's novel '1984' was futuristic, it is not really a science fiction story but rather a cautionary tale. It is probably too serious in tone to be considered a satire).
If you want a shorter work, take Swift's essay "A Modest Proposal" (available on 'project gutenberg') as a source of study. Written actually about a century before the potato famine in Ireland, it proposes cooking and eating children, even offering some tips to diversify the dish!
A modern example of satire would be the Harry Potter series in children's literature, which, among other things, makes mirth at the expense of the British educational system, particularly boarding schools for very young children. This is not the primary intention of the book, but the reader can get some good laughs just the same.
In French literature, Rabelais's fantasy novels 'Pantagruel' and 'Gargantua' (1532 and 1534) were also political jabs at how the state and church had depleted the resources of the people. (Similar to parts of Swift's 'Gulliver's Travels.') Both works were censured for a while (of course, adding to their public appeal!) as being too provocative.
In poetry, "Dover Bitch" is a spoof of Matthew Arnold's serious poem "Dover Beach." (A satire which assumes the same form of the work it is mocking is called a parody.) "The Ten Commandments" of the Old Testament were 'rewritten' in an ironic way by the poem "The Last Decalogue.'
All these various literary genres are examples of satire.
Horatian: Funny - Sophisticated (Horace is from the Augustan period in Rome)
Alexander Pope: The Rape of the Lock... Funny
Lord Byron: Don Juan - English Bards Scotch Reviewers -The Vision of Judgment Funny
Juvenalian: Relentless, bitter, serious (Juvenal is from Augustan period in Rome)
P.B. Shelley: The Mask of Anarchy...Serious Satire
William Hogarth: British Satirist who painted funny/serious pictures of 18th C. British society.
The Augustan Roman authors are often credited with influencing the English Satire...
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