Satirical devices

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  1. Typical literary devices: Both satirists and humorists tend to employ the following devices to create satire and comedy:

  • Euphemism

  • Hyperbole

  • Irony

  • Juxtaposition

  • Litotes

  • Point of view

  • Selection of detail

  • Understatement

  1. Satiric Devices and Modes

    1. Burlesque: imitation of the manner (the form and style) or the subject matter of a serious literary work or a literary genre, in poetry or prose, which makes the imitation amusing by creating a ridiculous disparity between the matter and the manner, most often by either treating a trivial or ridiculous subject (the "matter") in a serious, high-toned way (or "manner"), or by doing the opposite, treating a serious subject in a light or derogatory way. Example: Monty Python and the Holy Grail (a burlesque of the legend of King Arthur and his noble knights).

    1. Caricature: a description of a person using exaggeration of some characteristics and oversimplification of others.

    1. Irony: a discrepancy between typically one of three things: 1) what a speaker says and actually means (verbal irony), 2) what a character thinks or believes about a situation and what we as readers or audience know to be true (dramatic irony), or 3) what we or a character expect will happen and what actually occurs (situational irony).

    1. Invective: Speech or writing that abuses, denounces, or attacks. It can be directed against a person, cause, idea, or system. It employs a heavy use of negative emotive language.

    1. Lampoon: A crude, coarse, often bitter satire ridiculing the personal appearance or character of a person.

    1. Mock epic: Treating a frivolous or minor subject seriously, especially by using the machinery and devices of the epic (invocations, descriptions of armor, battles, extended similes, etc.). Example: Alexander Pope, Rape of the Lock (the cutting of a lock of a women’s hair).

    1. Parody: A satiric imitation of a work or of an author with the idea of ridiculing the author, his ideas, or work. The parodist exploits the peculiarities of an author's expression--his propensity to use too many parentheses, certain favorite words, or whatever. The parody may also be focused on, say, an improbable plot with too many convenient events.

    1. Travesty: A work that treats a serious subject frivolously-- ridiculing the dignified. Often the tone is mock serious and heavy handed. A travesty is identical to a parody with this difference: travesty is a parody that has been, to use the words of Emeril, “kicked up a notch.” A parody tends to be Horatian in tone whereas a travesty tends to be Juvenalian.

    1. Wit, humor, and the comic: wit and humor are both instances of the comic, which designates any element in a work of literature, whether a character, event, or utterance, which is designed to amuse or evoke mirth in the reader or audience.

      1. Wit denotes a kind of verbal expression which is brief, deft, and intentionally contrived to produce a shock of comic surprise.

      1. Humor as a term applies to comic modes of appearance and behavior as well as comic utterances, in contrast to wit, which refers only to the written and spoken word. Also, wit is always intended by the speaker to be comic; humor is many times found in speeches the speaker intends to be serious.

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