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Satire and Tone

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April Wilson

on 28 October 2014

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Transcript of Satire and Tone

How can we determine it?
How can we write it?

Tone in Satire
Before we look at satire, we need to review two other terms:

Irony and Sarcasm
The use of irony, humor, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices.
So what is satire?
And then we will determine the TONE!
Let's annotate for elements of satire in James Thurber's fable
"The Princess and the Tin Box":


What is the author criticizing or ridiculing?
saying one thing, but meaning the opposite

For example,
calling a very tall person "Shorty" would be ironic
or saying in an over-enthusiastic manner, "Oh BOY! English! My favorite class!" while rolling your eyes would also be a type of irony.
the use of irony to mock or convey contempt

For example, a mean girl saying to her classmate, "I love those pants. Was there a sale on CLOWN SHOES too?" is sarcasm;
sarcasm is meant in a meaner and more biting way.
a creative work, like an essay or a film, that uses humor, irony and sarcasm to ridicule a person, thing or idea by imitating it or by pretending to praise it.

It makes fun of something the author thinks is stupid or immoral.
For example:
A statement can be ironic if it contains:
fake enthusiasm
statements that are obviously untrue
a humorous tone
glossed-over statements that reveal the author's actual negative opinion of the subject
Example of Satire in Literature:
A Modest Proposal
By: Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift
“I am assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London; that
a young healthy child, well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food
; whether stewed, roasted, baked or boiled, and I make no doubt, that it will equally serve in a fricassee, or ragout.”

A Modest Proposal
p. 207
"I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as
they have already devoured most of the parents
, seem to have the best title to the children."

A Modest Proposal
p. 54
Swift suggests in this
satirical essay
that to improve the economic conditions in Ireland, small Irish
children should be "put to use" as a source of food
. Since he has the belief that every poor family has a price, he is convinced that
mothers would gladly carry and then sell their children
for 8 shillings, that
the rich would find the youngsters to be an excellent delicacy,
and with the extra money going to the landlords (the rich of Swift’s time) the whole economy would be benefit and the
population and poverty problems would be solved
. The state would no longer be responsible for these poor children’s welfare and
Ireland would no longer be reliant on England.
What makes Swift's text a satire?

It was printed in the form of a pamphlet, which was typically used at that time to publish political writings.

The topic is controversial and was a current political issue.
(attempts to expose the issues he sees)
Swift uses shocking imagery and hyperbole to express his tone of disgust toward the exploitation of the poor Irish by the wealthy English.
(irony and hyperbole)
Warm Up: View the following clip from Saturday Night Live. It is considered a
political satire.
Based on the video, what can we
are a few of the
characteristics of a satire
? What is the
of the skit?
a fable is a short tale that teaches a moral lesson
Full transcript