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The Elements of Satire. Satire should, like a polished razor keen, Wound with a touch that's scarcely felt or seen. -Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. Comes from the latin word satura , meaning “dish of mixed ingredients”.

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the elements of satire

The Elements of Satire

Satire should, like a polished razor keen, Wound with a touch that's scarcely felt or seen.

-Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

what is satire

Comes from the latin word satura, meaning “dish of mixed ingredients”.

  • A technique in which a writer ridicules or criticizes a person, group, institution or event using certain literary devices.
  • Usually witty.
  • Almost always sarcastic or ironic.
  • Usually has a tone of “mock-approval” – sarcastically supporting the very thing it is criticizing.

How does the definition of satire relate to its latin root?

What is satire?
forms of satire

Drama (Tartuffe – Moliere, The Importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde )

  • Journalism (The Onion)
  • Fiction (A Modest Proposal – Jonathan Swift, The Lowest Animal – Mark Twain)
  • Poetry (The Rape of the Locke – Alexander Pope)
  • Graphic Arts (editorial cartoons)
  • Television programs (Saturday Night Live, The Colbert Report)
  • Music (With God on Our Side – Bob Dylan, Weird Al)
Forms of Satire
examples of satire in pop culture

Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update

  • The Daily Show
  • Scary Movie
  • Austin Powers
  • Political cartoons
  • This is Spinal Tap
  • Songs by Weird Al Yankovich (White and Nerdy)
  • The Simpsons
Examples of Satire in Pop Culture
satirical techniques


  • Irony
  • Parody
  • Burlesque
  • Elevated word choice
  • Puns
  • Hyperbole/exaggeration
Satirical Techniques
methods of satire

Pun: play on words

  • Hyperbole: overstatement often used to show how ridiculous a situation is.
  • Burlesque is an imitation of a person or subject by exaggeration or distortion.
    • a frivolous subject may be treated with mock dignity
    • a weighty subject might be handled in a trivial style
    • character who should use formal, intelligent language speaks like a fool or a character who is portrayed as uneducated uses highly sophisticated, intelligent language. Ex: Princess Bride – “Marriage, marriage”, giant who rhymes
  • Parody mocks not a person or subject, but a specific literary work or style, by imitating features and applying them to trivial or incongruous materials. Weird Al song, Beat it ---Eat it.
Methods of Satire