Join, or Die. A How to Guide to Analyzing a Political Cartoon LIBME_Gr_8_Qtr_2_SOC_RELA_Join_or_Die_Analysis_Model_RS_Power_Point
Definition • Political cartoons (also known as editorial cartoons) are defined as illustrations or comic strips containing a political or social message that usually relates to current events or personalities. (From The National World War II Museum) • Biasis a preference or an inclination, especially one that inhibits impartial judgment. • According to Charles Press, author of Political Cartooning, in order for a political cartoon to be effective it must have the following four qualities: • Artistic quality—but the artistry must not get in the way of the message • Genuine sentiment—but it should not feel phony • Fresh, uncomplicated imagery—should be striking, forceful, and amusing • Lasting importance—the subject of the cartoon should be important so the cartoon can be understood by future readers
Cartoonists’ Persuasive Techniques using the Library of Congress’s Cartoon Analysis Guide Symbolism • Cartoonists use simple objects, or symbols, to stand for larger concepts or ideas. • After you identify the symbols in a cartoon, think about what the cartoonist means each symbol to stand for. Using a rattlesnake to symbolize America, the cartoonist is building on a superstition of the time: that if you joined the pieces of a cut up snake together before sunset, then the snake would come back together. The head of the snake represents New England and follows the coast to South Carolina’s tail.
Cartoonists’ Persuasive Techniques using the Library of Congress’s Cartoon Analysis Guide Cartoonists’ Persuasive Techniques Exaggeration • Sometimes cartoonists overdo, or exaggerate, the physical characteristics of people or things in order to make a point. • When you study a cartoon, look for any characteristics that seem overdone or overblown. (Facial characteristics and clothing are some of the most commonly exaggerated characteristics.) Then, try to decide what point the cartoonist was trying to make by exaggerating them. The snake is very curvy in shape as if killed in a threatening motion. It’s tongue is sticking out and it is pointy like a devil’s tongue.
Cartoonists’ Persuasive Techniques using the Library of Congress’s Cartoon Analysis Guide Cartoonists’ Persuasive Techniques Labeling • Cartoonists often label objects or people to make it clear exactly what they stand for. • Watch out for the different labels that appear in a cartoon, and ask yourself why the cartoonist chose to label that particular person or object. Does the label make the meaning of the object more clear? Each of the eight segments are labeled with initials of different British colonies.
Cartoonists’ Persuasive Techniques using the Library of Congress’s Cartoon Analysis Guide Cartoonists’ Persuasive Techniques Analogy • An analogy is a comparison between two unlike things. By comparing a complex issue or situation with a more familiar one, cartoonists can help their readers see it in a different light. • After you’ve studied a cartoon for a while, try to decide what the cartoon’s main analogy is. What two situations does the cartoon compare? Once you understand the main analogy, decide if this comparison makes the cartoonist’s point more clear to you. The segments represent the divided colonies. Each colony had its own militia but they were small. They must unite to stand against a common enemy. Uniting makes them stronger.
Cartoonists’ Persuasive Techniques using the Library of Congress’s Cartoon Analysis Guide Cartoonists’ Persuasive Techniques Irony • Irony is the difference between the ways things are and the way things should be, or the way things are expected to be. Cartoonists often use irony to express their opinion on an issue. • When you look at a cartoon, see if you can find any irony in the situation the cartoon depicts. If you can, think about what point the irony might be intended to emphasize. Does the irony help the cartoonist express his or her opinion more effectively? The cartoonist originally used the rattlesnake as an idea for a “gift” back to the British for sending so many criminals to America in a commentary written in the Pennsylvania Gazette. Three years later, he made the woodcut of this cartoon to get the colonies to unite to fight against the French and their Indian allies. The cartoon soon was copied and modified by many.
Cartoonists’ Persuasive Techniques using the Library of Congress’s Cartoon Analysis Guide Once you’ve identified the persuasive techniques that the cartoonist used, ask yourself these questions: What issue is this political cartoon about? A need for colonies to unite to fight an enemy. What do you think is the cartoonist’s opinion on this issue? He wants the colonies to unite. What other opinion can you imagine another person having on this issue? The French would not be happy to see this but the British would agree. The British needed help. Did you find this cartoon persuasive? Why or why not? Yes, I thought the idea of uniting made more sense to fight a common cause. What other techniques could the cartoonist have used to make this cartoon more persuasive? Perhaps break New England into its smaller units to bring the idea of how small each colony was.
Who? When? Where? Look at the provenance (origin) of the image. Note the attributed creator, the date, and where it was created. Do some more digging. What more can you find about the time, place, or person to help you more fully understand the political cartoon and the time it was created?
Who? When? Where? Why? Who? Benjamin Franklin When? May 9, 1754 Why? Unite to fight French and Indians Where? Pennsylvania When? During the French and Indian War