Vices of Human Nature

Topics: Satire, Embalming, Audience Pages: 6 (2349 words) Published: January 18, 2011
The first five minutes before exercising are crucial as they are used to stretch and warm up. It is pure folly to start running without warming up, improvement will never be made, yet it is a commonality in many people’s lives. In order to make improvement in life, common and unnecessary vices, such as not warming up, must be removed. Among satirists, it is a common goal to change society from its flaws. Cortney Keim, Jessica Mitford, and George Carlin satirize common paths of vice hoping to elicit enough pathos to motivate people to examine their current processes and to redirect energy and attention to new consideration of old ways. Keim writes “Making the Bed” to show how making her bed in the morning is a good way to organize her life, and she teaches her audience how to do so. Jessica Mitford, in her essay “Behind the Formaldehyde Curtain,” exposes the process of embalming and implies her opinion as to its lack of necessity. Carlin comments on the social need for “stuff” using an extended metaphor about taking a vacation in his speech “Stuff.” All three authors use satire to attack folly in the nature of man and to instigate a correction of habit. Pathos is also used by all of these three authors to better convince their audiences that they are being foolish and to get them to rid their lives of these human vices. This incited change attempts to grow and mature society into one free of vice. These authors convince their audiences to improve human society by first improving themselves.

The use of satire brings attention to the audience’s foibles and seeks to provoke change in its habits. Keim subtly exposes that if people do not take time to straighten out their beds, they will never be able to straighten out their lives. People are too often victims of sloth and end up caught in the flow of society: schedules, dates, plans, deadlines, events. If only they made their beds, then significant change to their lives could be made. “I began to see that the routine offers a chance to pull myself together in the morning to smooth my jumble of imperfections and unfinished business into defined layers,” (Keim 199). Once the readers can also see this, then they think of their “imperfections and unfinished jumble of business.” While trying to conceive a solution to these imperfections, none come to mind. The readers begin to wonder how much control of life they actually have. Then the deduction is made that they have fallen victim to the system and cannot easily escape. It is then realized, that in order to escape, baby steps must be taken, starting with something simple – making the bed. This long train of thought is all part of Keim’s goal to remove sloth from human lives. Another satire that Keim offers is comparing her “tutorial” to a real, significant one. She warns her audience: “expect a corner you’ve already finished to pop out,” (200). This mocks a real tutorial with real problems and warnings which make her essay seem like something it is not, at first. Then the audience realizes that there is more to it than just making the bed. It is really about taking control of life. “Satire is implicitly constructive…” and Keim is helping her audience to construct a better lifestyle, yet does so implicitly by concealing her message behind a satirical process essay (Virtualsalt). Similar uses of this satire can be used on more gruesome topics, such as death, and still have the same desired result: change.

Mitford wishes to satirize the entirety of the unnecessary embalming process and expose its lack of necessity, thereby getting her audience to avoid embalming. She uses satire in her “medical terms” for steps in the embalming process, and that use exposes the absurdity of the process, and, therefore, it gets the audience to turn against the practice. Mitford notes the many problems that embalmers face, but not to worry, “lip drift can sometimes be remedied,” (Mitford 260). These terms make...
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