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Tone and Satire
Transcript of Tone and Satire
What is the purpose of satire?
Satire can be expressed in many ways, including...
IMAGERY: Imagery is language that evokes one of the five senses. Imagery can affect tone very strongly. For example, a writer may add a lighthearted tone to a party scene by focusing on bringing the laughter and bright colors vividly to the reader's mind so that they can "hear" and "see" the scene. A writer may imply a more ominous tone by bringing the image of frantic dancing to the reader's mind, or using vivid language to show how dark it was outside. IMAGERY is closely tied to DETAIL.
FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE: Figurative language, such as simile and metaphor, makes a comparison between two things in order to help the reader understand something. If a writer compares someone who is walking to a graceful willow, it creates a far different tone than, for instance, providing the simile "they ran like a dyspeptic rabbit."
Tone and Satire
SATIRE is the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, wit, and other methods to criticize human flaw, folly, or stupidity.
SOCIAL SATIRE is satire that makes a specific comment about a cultural or social trend, or about a specific social group or class.
Satire is effective because the use of humor, whether light or dark, is memorable. Satire is a great tool to motivate people to think about your subject in a new way - or to ask important questions.
EXAGGERATION (HYPERBOLE): The hyper-technological future of "The Veldt" exaggerates many conveniences that we currently have.
VERBAL IRONY (expressing your message by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect): The narrator of "The Veldt" says,
"...again George Hadley was filled with admiration for the mechanical genius who had conceived this room. A miracle of efficiency selling for an absurdly low price. Every home should have one."
We will soon see, however, that perhaps every home should NOT! Verbal irony is closely related to...
SITUATIONAL IRONY (a sharp or humorous difference between an expected outcome and the actual outcome): In "The Veldt", the nursery is meant to make the family content and help George and Lydia manage their children. As we'll see, however, the nursery does not have the effect that the Hadley parents expect.
"The Veldt" deals with serious topics, such as anger, incredibly hurt and broken familial relationships, and even (depending on how one interprets the ending) death. Bradbury could have used more sympathetic, detailed, and even gory language to create a tragic or horrifying tone.
However, Bradbury makes very specific choices about detail, imagery, syntax, diction, and figurative language that contribute to his unique and satiric tone. He often uses matter-of-fact syntax and diction, brief but effective imagery, and details that emphasize the absurdity and irony of the situation. This contributes to a SATIRIC and critical tone. Let's ask ourselves: what is Bradbury's attitude toward this subject?
It is important to remember that Bradbury is not disrespecting or "making light of" the issues addressed in the story. We will discuss the specific choices he makes - and why he makes them - in a few minutes when we address our discussion questions!
Tone is not WHAT you say, but HOW you say it.
An author may use tone to demonstrate their emotions about a particular topic, put a topic in a specific light, or emphasize a point they are trying to make about a topic.
TONE is the attitude a writer takes towards a subject, character, or audience.
The TONE of a work may be serious, humorous, casual, formal, sarcastic, ironic, tongue-in-cheek, objective, lighthearted, tragic, etc.
What affects tone?
How is satire related to tone?
While all writing contains a tone (attitude), fiction writers use specific tools to express a specific tone. These tools, or literary elements, include:
SYNTAX: The arrangement of words in phrases and sentences. This includes grammar choices, sentence length, and word order. Syntax can affect whether a tone is casual, formal, abrupt, hurried, or lazy.
DICTION: Word choice. Choosing one word rather than another can affect tone. Calling a character "incredibly nervous" creates a different tone than saying they are "freaked out about" something.
DETAIL: The individual facts we choose to include or ignore can affect the tone. A story that contains a happy tone may choose to include the fact that the sun is shining. A story with a more negative tone may include the fact that the protagonist has a stone in their shoe.
Other elements that affect tone include...