A mock-epic can be considered as a form of satire, except that it specifically critiques classical stereotypes of heroes or heroic literature. For example, a foolish character may in fact be the hero. Or the protagonist’s heroic qualities are greatly exaggerated, oftentimes to the point of absurdity. Usually the mock-epic takes the form of a poem and addresses trivial subjects. Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock is an example of a mock-epic as he treats the theft of a lock of hair as comparable to the events that started the Trojan War.
A satire employs irony, exaggeration, and humor to critique society as a whole. A classic example is Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Satire in this form generally seeks to expose the shortcomings of society, individuals, or humanity as a whole in an attempt to encourage improvement or reform. “Saturday Night Live” is an example of satire as used on television. Politicians or well-known figures are often parodied or criticized for their shortcomings. A contemporary American author, Kurt Vonnegut, heavily relies on satire in Breakfast for Champions and Slaughterhouse-Five.