A genre that criticizes and ridicules folly, vices, and corruption with the intention of reforming society. Satire discredits and ridicules its target by implying a comparison with an ideal situation. The satirist uses a variety of literary techniques to subtly poke fun at the target. SATIRE
What are some common targets for satire? Vanity, hypocrisy, religion, bigotry, human vices, sentimentality, greed, celebrity worship, materialism, hubris, dumbing down of education, snobbery, foolishness, cruelty, insensitivity, laziness, and so on SATIRE
IRONY A figure of speech in which the actual intent is expressed in words or situations that carry the opposite meaning. Its purpose is to dramatize or emphasize the subject.
Verbal – when what is said is the opposite of what is meant Dramatic – when a character’s statements or beliefs are not what the reader, audience, or other characters know to be true Situational – when what occurs is the opposite of what is expected to occur THREE TYPES OF IRONY
VERBAL IRONY Your boyfriend shows up in ripped up jeans and a stained t-shirt. With a smile, you say, “Oh! I see you dressed up for our date. We must be going to a posh restaurant.”
EUPHEMISM Euphemism is an indirect statement substituted for a direct one. It’s a way of saying what you really mean (something negative) by masking it with something more neutral or less negative. For example, the government might refer to bombs, missiles, and warheads as ordinance. Instead of saying someone was axe-murdered, you say he “passed on to a happier place.”
A bitter or cutting speech, intended to wound a person’s feelings. It comes from a Greek word meaning to tear flesh. Sarcasm is an example of verbal irony. (But verbal irony is not always sarcastic, since it does not always want to wound.) SARCASM
A mother catches her eleven-year-old, who is failing all of his classes, in the act of watching South Park instead of doing his homework as he was supposed to do. Pointing to the screen she says, “Here’s the explanation for all that brilliant work you’ve been doing in school, my darling prodigy.”
DRAMATIC IRONY When watching a talk show, the audience knows why a person has been brought on the show. However, the person sitting in a chair does not know that he is going to be reunited with a former jilted lover who reveals that she got pregnant and is now the mother of the person’s son. Dramatic irony creates suspense and emphasis.
DRAMATIC IRONY Have you ever seen a horror movie that has a killer on the loose? You, and the rest of the audience, know that the teenagers should not go walking in the woods late at night, but they think a midnight stroll would be romantic. Needless to say, the teens become the next victims.
SITUATIONAL IRONY Once upon a time, there was a girl who went into the woods. She entered a funny little house, and she was kind of hungry, so she ate a bowl of porridge that was sitting on the table. Unfortunately for her, it was poisoned and she died. Because most people are familiar with the story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” this ending comes as a bit of a surprise.
INVERSION / REVERSAL Inversion / Reversal is the reversal of the normal order of things, such as the usual roles people play. It is a specific form of situational irony, because it is creates emphasis by defying audience expectations. An example would be having a child in the role of the parent and a parent in the role of a child.
INCONGRUITY Incongruity occurs when something is out of place or absurd. It is a specific form of situational irony, because it is creates emphasis by undermining audience expectations. It also involves exaggeration. For example, Jonathan Swift in “A Modest Proposal” suggested that a good solution to poverty would be to have the poor sell their children as food.
MORE EXAMPLES? Can you think of any examples of irony, inversion, or incongruity in recent movies you have seen?
EXAGGERATION (HYPERBOLE) A figure of speech that creates emphasis by making the subject seem larger or greater than it really is.
EXAGGERATION (HYPERBOLE) Someone tells us of a time when he told an off-color joke about a grandmother and then realized that his own grandmother, a prim and proper lady, happened to be standing right behind him. “I almost died,” he says. “I’m starving.”
UNDERSTATEMENT (LITOTES) A figure of speech that creates emphasis by making the subject seem smaller or less important than it really is. Another way of looking at understatement is that it creates emphasis by stating the negative of its opposite.
UNDERSTATEMENT We visit our friend in the hospital. We know from his wife that the prognosis is bad, and also that our friend has been informed of his condition. When we enter, we ask him how he's feeling. “Well,” he says, “I've been better.” “He’s not a bad cook.” (Meaning he’s quite good.) “She’s not the world’s best speller.” (Meaning she’s terrible at it.)
PARODY An imitation of the style of an author or work for comic effect and ridicule
GENERALIZATION To apply an idea or belief to all situations, whether appropriately or not and neglecting differences or exceptions. In other words, to stereotype a person or situation.
GENERALIZATION In the Simpsons episode titled “The PTA Disbands,” Homer says, “Lisa, if you don't like your job, you don't strike. You just go in everyday and do it really half- arsed. That's the American way.” When Homer says, “That's the American way,” he generalizes that his own defeatist attitude toward work is the status quo. And what about the irony?