Literary Terms • Allegory: The term loosely describes any writing in verse or prose that has a double meaning. This narrative acts as an extended metaphor in which persons, abstract ideas, or events represent not only themselves on the literal level, but they also stand for something else on the symbolic level. • Theme: A universal truth, a unifying or dominant idea • Satire: a genre or mode that exposes and ridicules human vice and folly.
“The Elephant” • The elephant is an absurdist modest fairy tail. In an attempt to save money, a zoo director, rather than purchasing a real elephant, inflated with gas, floats away on the 1st day it is exhibited, in front of a surprised audience of school children. The school never again believes in elephants..
“The Elephant” • This story is a satirical allegory aimed at the communist government that controlled Poland at the time it was written (1958). In repressive times, satirical allegory – in which a serious critique of political authorities is disguised as an innocent fable, is one way in which writers can attack a writer can attack without being imprisoned.
Setting, Point of View and Conflict • A zoo in Poland (Setting) • Third Person Omniscient (Point of View) • Conflict (Human against Society)
Theme: • Reading the allegory at its surface level, the theme might be expressed as simple moral lesson. (It is wrong to lie to young people) • At a deeper level (The people can see through a government that lies) The government takes advantage of the power that has been given to them, thus they are corrupt.
“The Elephant” Questions • What does the author achieve by including the line, “…only the cry of the jackass interrupted the silence”? Identify some other lines that create a similar effect. Jackass is a symbol for stupidity….. This is both a joke and a signal of the stories satirical intent. Other examples are “Particularly Sluggish”, and “Hardly Moves”
#2 Realism • The tendency to view or represent things as they really are.
#3 • Despite its absurdity, the story is quite realistic in a number of ways. What technique does the author use to create a sense of realism in the telling of the tale? • The characterization of the director and the keepers, the business like language of the letter, the teachers lecture and the students response.
#4 • What do you think is the purpose of the last paragraph in the story? What would be lost if it were omitted? • The last paragraph provides a moral to the story. It reminds us of the consequence of lying to ones people.
#5 • In what way might “The Elephant” be considered a satire? • It pokes fun at the bureaucratic wrong doings, and by extension the practice of the Polish government of the day. This is signaled as early as the second line: “He regarded his animals simply as stepping stones on the road to his own career”
Please include (2 quotes) from Macbeth • Compare the “Corruption of power” in the short story “The Elephant” with the “Corruption of power” in “Macbeth” /4
Writing • Write your own satire, in which you poke fun at a specific societal folly or political action. • (2 Pages Double Spaced) Due Monday • 1. articulate the target message: People should not cheat on their taxes. • 2. Think of a story to articulate the message: for example “Someone cheats on their taxes, then they have an accident because the road has potholes in it.
Language conventions • Active and Passive Voice: • The second to last sentence is written in the passive voice: “It is reported that they drink liquor and break windows.” • Rewrite this sentence in the active voice. • Example: • we admit that we made mistakes (Passive) • It has been acknowledged that errors were made” (Active)
Techniques that satirist use are: • Exaggeration • Understatement • Symbolism • Juxtaposition • Irony