Satire: Definition and Examples of Satire in Conversation & Literature

There are many examples of satire all around us, this is something that is commonly used in both spoken and written language. In this article, we are going to be looking at the meaning of satire as well as how it can be properly used. We are also going to be exploring some examples of satire in both spoken and written contexts, as this will allow us to gain a greater understanding of its function.

What Is Satire?

Satire is a form of comedy in which irony, humour and exaggeration are used as a way of mocking or ridiculing a certain idea, belief or concept. It is very commonly used in order to mock politicians and their ideas, this is quite commonly done in the form of sketch shows on the TV or in cartoon strips in the newspaper.

Satire can be used as a literary device and is often a technique employed by writers who wish to add a humorous sense of ridicule to their work. It is a way in which the writer can criticise the mass beliefs of the society or community at large but do so in a way which lessens offence. This is done by including a variety of other rhetorical and literary devices such as irony and exaggeration. When writing a satirical piece, the writer will likely use a fictional character who will represent a true life person.

The idea of writing satire is to be able to mock a person, country, place, concept or belief in a humorous way in the hope that it might have an impact on that group and cause them to change in the long run. Although this doesn’t very often happen.

It has been seen that satire has been used for a very long time, in some instances as far back as the civilisations on ancient Greece and Egypt where it was used as a way to mock the reigning governments.

Satire Examples

Examples of Satire In Day To Day Conversation

There are plenty of examples of satire taking place in our day to day lives, this can be in the form of statements being made in conversation, through TV series and sketches and in talk shows. We are now going to take a look at some examples of satire being used in our everyday lives so that you might be more easily able to pick up on it when you are confronted with it.

  • There are a wide range of TV shows which take a satirical approach, some examples of these are The Colbert Report, The Daily Show and The Larry Sanders Show.
  • In one example taken from one of the aforementioned TV shows, we see satire in action when the notion of Jesus helping the poor is put to the public who want to be seen as a Christian country but in fact do not employ the values of the belief system. It goes on to say that they have the choice of pretending that Jesus was selfish or changing their ways and being more kind and giving.
  • In Britain, the TV show spitting image is a puppet show that uses satire to discuss current events. The puppets are of people such as members of the royal family and those in political power. The show has massive success in its first release and is now back with a new up to date version.
  • The New Yorker often uses satire as a way to target current affairs and issues in a humorous way whilst delivering the more serious message that is intended.

Examples of Satire In Literature

Whether it is in a work of fiction or a newspaper article, there are examples of satire all around us when it comes to the written word. It is, as we mentioned an excellent way for the writer to ridicule and mock something in a humorous way, all the while hoping that it will be impactful enough to make a difference. Let’s take a look at some examples of how satire has been used as a literary device.

  • The novel Gullivers travels written by Jonathan Swift was a satirical piece aimed at tackling the nature of humans. One of the most famous scenes in the story is when the main character interacts with the tiny people of Lilliput, satire is used here in the height of the heels worn by the men as a way to mock the whigs and tories of the British government.
  • Huckleberry Finn written by Mark Twain features a heavy satirical plot. This story was used as a way to construe the treatment of black slaves during the times of slavery and the author used satire as a way to convey his views on the topic. Although it was often thought that the novel contained his actual views, the concept of satire was overlooked.
  • In Animal farm written by George Orwell, satire is used as a way of addressing the subject of the Russian revolution, this is perhaps one of the most famous examples of satirical literature in the world.
  • In Catch 22 written by Joseph Heller, there are plenty of examples of satire throughout the piece. One of the most notable is the general ideal of the catch 22, which the writer uses as a way to talk about the lack of logic often seen in bureaucracy.
  • In the poem, the rape of the lock written by Alexander Pope satire is used as a way of addressing the upper middle classes of the 18th century. It is used to expose the behaviour of fashionable young ladies from this class section and how they react to certain things such as losing as lock of hair.

Conclusion

Satire is something which is very frequently used as a literary device as well as in spoken conversation, especially on TV and in the news. It is a way of mocking an idea, person, country or belief in a comedic sense using devices such as irony and exaggeration. Quite often, writers will use it as a way to expose an idea with which they do not agree.

Satire Infographic

Satire

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