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Key People:VoltaireMolièreErasmusHoraceAlexander Pope...(Show more)Related Topics:parodyburlesquemock-epicfool"s literatureMenippean satire...(Show more)

satire, artistic form, chiefly literary and dramatic, in which human or separation, personal, instance vices, follies, abuses, or shortcomings are organized up to censure by way of ridicule, derision, burlesque, irony, parody, caricature, or various other methods, periodically with an will to inspire social reform.

Satire is a protean term. Along with its derivatives, it is just one of the many heavily operated literary designations and one of the many imprecise. The an excellent English smooth Samuel Johnson identified satire as “a poem in i beg your pardon wickedness or folly is censured,” and much more elaborate interpretations are rarely an ext satisfactory. No strict meaning can incorporate the intricacy of a word the signifies, ~ above one hand, a sort of literature—as as soon as one speaks of the satires the the roman inn poet Horace or call the American novelist Nathanael West’s A Cool Million a satire—and, top top the other, a mocking soul or tone the manifests itself in countless literary genres however can likewise enter into almost any sort of human communication. Where wit is to work to reveal something foolish or vicious come criticism, over there satire exists, whether it it is in in song or sermon, in painting or political debate, on television or in the movies. In this feeling satire is everywhere.

In literary works, satire have the right to be direct or indirect. With straight satire, the narrator speaks straight to the reader. Through indirect satire, the author’s will is realized within the narrative and also its story. Return this short article deals primarily with satire as a literary phenomenon, it documents its manifestations in a number of other locations of human task as well.

The nature of satire

Historical definitions

The terminological difficulty is pointed up by a phrase of the roman inn rhetorician Quintilian: “satire is completely our own” (“satura tota nostra est”). Quintilian seems to be claiming satire as a roman inn phenomenon, although he had actually read the Greek dramatist Aristophanes and was acquainted with a variety of Greek forms that one would call satiric. However the Greeks had no specific word for satire, and also by satura (which meant initially something favor “medley” or “miscellany” and from which comes the English satire) Quintilian intended to specify that kind of city “invented” by Gaius Lucilius, composed in hexameters on specific appropriate themes, and characterized by a Lucilian-Horatian tone. Satura referred, in short, to a poetic form, established and also fixed by roman inn practice. (Quintilian mentions additionally an even older sort of satire created in prose by Marcus Terentius Varro and, one could add, by Menippus and also his followers Lucian and Petronius.) after ~ Quintilian’s day, satura began to be offered metaphorically to designate works that to be satirical in tone however not in form. As shortly as a noun beginning the domain of metaphor, as one modern-day scholar has actually pointed out, the clamours for extension, and satura (which had no verbal, adverbial, or adjectival forms) was instantly broadened by appropriation indigenous the Greek satyros and also its derivatives. The odd an outcome is the the English satire comes from the Latin satura, however satirize, satiric, etc., room of Greek origin. By about the fourth century ce the writer the satires happened known together satyricus; St. Jerome, for example, was dubbed by among his enemies “a satirist in prose” (“satyricus scriptor in prosa”). Subsequent orthographic modifications obscured the Latin origin of words satire: satura i do not care satyra, and also in England through the 16th century the was written satyre.

Elizabethan writers, anxious to follow classic models yet misled through a false etymology, thought that satyre derived from the Greek satyr play: satyrs gift notoriously rude, unmannerly creatures, it seemed to monitor that words satyre should suggest something harsh, coarse, rough. The English author Joseph hall wrote:

The Satyre should be favor the Porcupine,That shooting sharpe quils the end in each angry line,And wounds the blushing cheeke, and also fiery eye,Of him that heares, and readeth guiltily.(Virgidemiarum, V, 3, 1–4)

The false etymology that derives satire native satyrs was finally exposed in the 17th century by the classic scholar Isaac Casaubon, yet the old tradition has aesthetic if no etymological appropriateness and has remained strong.

In the prologue to his book, Hall makes a case that has actually caused confusion favor that complying with from Quintilian’s remark on roman inn satire. Hall boasts:

I an initial adventure: monitor me that list,And be the 2nd English Satyrist.

But room knew the satirical poems of Geoffrey Chaucer and John Skelton, amongst other predecessors, and probably supposed that he was the first to imitate systematically the formal satirists the Rome.

Influence of Horace and Juvenal

By your practice, the good Roman poets Horace and also Juvenal collection indelibly the lineaments the the genre well-known as the formal city satire and, in so doing, exerted pervasive, if often indirect, affect on all subsequent literary satire. They offered laws come the type they established, however it need to be said that the regulations were very loose indeed. Consider, because that example, style. In 3 of his Satires (I, iv; I, x; II, i) Horace discusses the tone suitable to the satirist who out of a moral concern assaults the vice and also folly that sees roughly him. As opposed to the harshness of Lucilius, Horace opts because that mild mockery and playful wit as the way most efficient for his ends. Although i portray examples of folly, the says, i am not a prosecutor and also I do not favor to offer pain; if i laugh at the nonsense i see around me, i am not motivated by malice. The satirist’s verse, he implies, need to reflect this attitude: it should be easy and unpretentious, sharp as soon as necessary, yet flexible enough to vary from grave to gay. In short, the character of the satirist as projected by Horace is that of an urbane male of the world, concerned about folly, which the sees everywhere, however moved to laughter quite than rage.

Juvenal, an ext than a century later, conceives the satirist’s duty differently. His many characteristic attitude is the of the upright male who looks v horror on the corruptions of his time, his heart consumed v anger and frustration. Why walk he write satire? since tragedy and also epic are irrelevant to his age. Viciousness and also corruption so conquer Roman life that, for someone that is honest, that is daunting not to create satire. He looks around him, and also his heart burns dry v rage; never has actually vice been an ext triumphant. How deserve to he be quiet (Satires, I)? Juvenal’s declamatory manner, the amplification and luxuriousness of his invective, room wholly out of maintaining with the stylistic prescriptions collection by Horace. At the end of the scabrous sixth satire, a long, perfervid invective versus women, Juvenal flaunts his innovation: in this poem, he says, satire has actually gone past the boundaries established by his predecessors; it has taken to chin the lofty tone of tragedy.

The results of Juvenal’s innovation have actually been very confusing because that literary history. What is satire if the 2 poets universally identified to be can be fried masters that the kind differ so fully in their work as to be practically incommensurable? The formulation the the English poet john Dryden has actually been extensively accepted. Roman inn satire has two kinds, the says: comical satire and tragical satire, each through its very own kind the legitimacy. This denominations have pertained to mark the boundaries of the satiric spectrum, whether recommendation is to city or prose or to some form of satiric expression in an additional medium. In ~ the Horatian finish of the spectrum, satire merges imperceptibly into comedy, which has actually an abiding attention in human being follies but has not satire’s reforming intent. The difference between the 2 modes, hardly ever clear, is significant by the intensity with which folly is pursued: fops and also fools and pedants appear in both, yet only satire has actually a ethical purpose. And, return the an excellent engine that both comedy and satire is irony, in satire, together the 20th-century critic Northrop Frye claimed, irony is militant.

Nicolas Boileau, Dryden, and also Alexander Pope, composing in the 17th and 18th centuries—the contemporary age that satire—catch beautifully, when they like, the deft Horatian tone. However, satire’s wit can likewise be sombre, deeply probing, and also prophetic, together it explores the varieties of the Juvenalian end of the satiric spectrum, wherein satire merges v tragedy, melodrama, and also nightmare. Pope’s Dunciad ends v these lines:

Lo! her dread Empire, Chaos! is restor’d;Light dies prior to thy uncreating word:Thy hand, great Anarch! lets the curtain fall;And universal Darkness buries All.

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It is the very same darkness that falls on book IV of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, on some of mark Twain’s satire—The secret Stranger and “To the human being Sitting in Darkness”—and top top George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four and, in a an ext surrealist vein, Joseph Heller’s Catch-22.