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Topics: Satire, Literature, Jonathan Swift Pages: 4 (1142 words) Published: January 30, 2013
An Introduction to Satire
sat.ire n. 1.

A literary work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony, derision, or wit. Irony, sarcasm, or caustic [bitterly cutting/burning] wit used to attack or expose folly, vice, or stupidity. (

Ian Johnston, retired instructor at Malaspina University-College, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada, offers helpful information in more clearly defining the use and characteristics of satire: Purpose of Satire: “If we see someone or some group acting in a way we think is morally unacceptable and we wish to correct such behaviour, we have a number of options. We can try to force them to change their ways (through threats of punishment); we can deliver stern moral lectures, seeking to persuade them to change their ways; we can try the Socratic approach of engaging them in a conversation which probes the roots of their beliefs; or, alternatively, we can encourage everyone to see them as ridiculous, to laugh at them, to render them objects of scorn for he group. In doing so we will probably have at least two purposes in mind: first, to effect some changes in the behaviour of the target (so that he or she reforms) and, second, to encourage others not to behave in such a manner.” Morality of Satire: “At the basis of every good traditional satire is a sense of moral outrage or indignation: This conduct is wrong and needs to be exposed. Hence, to adopt a satiric stance requires a sense of what is right, since the target of the satire can only be measured as deficient if one has a sense of what is necessary for a person to be truly moral.” Complications of Satire: “One central challenge to the satirist is to be subtle and varied enough to keep the reader interested in the wit of the piece, while at the same time making it clear (but not obvious) that there is a satiric intent. . . . Since most satires depend upon a certain awareness in the reader (awareness of events, of literary models being satirized, of...
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