Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904-1991) was a famous American writer and cartoonist best known for his classic children’s books under the pen name Dr. Seuss.
Dr. Seuss was a not only a successful children's author, but also a successful political cartoonist, lampooning current events during World War II for a newspaper called PM. Lampoon = to ridicule, satirize, or make fun of
Between 1941 and 1943, Dr. Seuss had drawn over 400 political cartoons – most of them criticizing Adolf Hitler.
A political cartoon is a cartoon that makes a point about a political issue or event. You can find them in any daily newspaper on the editorial pages – they’re right next to the editorial columns, and across from the opinion essays.
Reading political cartoons: • Allows us to look at the history, values, and beliefs of our society. • Gives us a lot of information in a quick glance. • Makes us consider what is fact and opinion, as well as examine our own biases. Example of bias: “Teachers are the hardest working people in society today.”
The best political cartoonist can change your mind on an issue without you even realizing how he or she did it. The Pacific Scandal 1873 Sir Alexander Mackenzie and Sir John A. MacDonald
Today’s Activity: We are going to examine how political cartoonists create these persuasive editorials, while at the same time, learn how to read them. • Find a partner and sit at a desk beside them. • While waiting patiently to receive your materials, decide who will write and who will present to the class.
Political cartoonists use a number of techniques to get their message across in their work.
1. Symbolism and metaphor Cartoonists use simple objects, or symbols, to stand for larger concepts or ideas. A dove is a symbol of peace; a weapon may be a metaphor for conflict.
2. 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.
3. Exaggeration Sometimes cartoonists overdo, orexaggerate, the physical characteristics of people or things in order to make a point.
Look for any characteristics that seem overdone or overblown - facial characteristics and clothing for example.
4. Analogy An analogy is a comparison between two unlike things that share some characteristics. By comparing a complex issue or situation with a more familiar one, cartoonists can help their readers see it in a different light.
Try to decide what the cartoon’s main analogy is. What two situations does the cartoon compare?
5. Context Viewers need to recognise the setting of the cartoon in order to make sense of it. Usually this involves a current situation, but it may also involve a culturally recognisable element.
After reading a political cartoon, it’s up to you to think about the event being lampooned and make your own judgements.