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Satire as a Form of Humour

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Humor, as harmless as it usually is, has a great impact on the minds of people. One simple joke can make people think, take a hint on what they need to change or even change their perspective on some topic. That is why satire has a major role in literature. Satire can be defined as „the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices.“ There have always been people on positions they are not qualified for, abuses of power and inequalities. Luckily, there are also writers that turn a bad situation into a funny and educational story. This essay will focus on the history of satire and its purpose.

Satire probably existed long before it was formalized, because humor was used every day to make fun of the vices of society. Greeks and Romans were the first to formalize the satire, as plays in Grece and as poetry in Rome. In Greece, satire was performed by people dressed as Satrys, which are mythical creatures with the upper body of a man and the lower body of a goat. Those were plays full of humor and drama. Aristophanes wrote comedies for the ancient Greek competitions in Athens: the City Dionysia and the Leneia. Many of his works survived and have been translated into various languages worldwide. The plays were famous for critiquing Athenian society, government, and foreign policy.

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On the other hand, it is said that the word satire doesn’t come from the word Satrys, but rather the Roman word satura which means mixture. This is closer to the truth because the Roman writer Horace was the first to write a satiric text in the form close to the satire today. It was very humorous and critical, but it was not intended to provoke any sort of real social change. As Europe moved into the Middle Ages, satire continued to flourish. The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer, is another work still read and studied to this day. Then there is Jonathan Swift, one of the most famous satirists of all time. He wrote Gulliver’s Travels (1726) and A Modest Proposal (1729), both stunning examples of modern satire. In 1884, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published by Mark Twain. Satire kept growing in popularity. In contemporary times, satire has found a place in visual art as well, particularly in comic strips and TV shows.

The purpose of satire is not just to make people laugh, but rather to make them aware of the state of the society they live in. Writers use satire to send important messages and to better the society. Satire is the weapon of the individual against the corrupt system. It has the power to unite people that think the same. It entertains the people, but at the same time gives them food for thought. It is important to understand that satire does not intend to do any harm, it offers constructive criticism through ridicule. Satirists try to make people despise feelings such as anger, jealousy, selfishness, etc., in order to slowly change the behavior of society. We can say that every satirist is a world-changer in a way because satire is thoroughly concerned with justice, morality, and virtue.

In conclusion, satire is one of the oldest forms of expression. Its purpose is to make people think about the issues presented in a humorous way by the writer. Satire, like all literature and poetry, must be intellectually rewarding, be reasonably well written, and especially must entertain in order to be received at all.

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Satire as a Form of Humour. (2022, July 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved November 27, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/satire-as-a-form-of-humour/
“Satire as a Form of Humour.” Edubirdie, 08 Jul. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/satire-as-a-form-of-humour/
Satire as a Form of Humour. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/satire-as-a-form-of-humour/> [Accessed 27 Nov. 2022].
Satire as a Form of Humour [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jul 08 [cited 2022 Nov 27]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/satire-as-a-form-of-humour/
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