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Introduction to Satire. The Canterbury Tales. Satire. The blend of a disapproving attitude with humor and wit in order to affect change in human institutions (government, school, etc.) and humanity (individual people). Six devices of satire exist. Mockery.

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introduction to satire

Introduction to Satire

The Canterbury Tales

  • The blend of a disapproving attitude with humor and wit in order to affect change in human institutions (government, school, etc.) and humanity (individual people).
  • Six devices of satire exist.

Mockery diminishes its subject by evoking laughter or scorn.


  • When someone has a really strong accent and you make fun of him by imitating that accent and making it even more ridiculously extreme, this is an example of mockery.
  • A parody of a soap opera that makes fun of how seriously it takes itself is an example of a mockery.
  • Colbert Report, SNL skits, Key & Peele , The Onion, The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad, Scary Movie, etc.
dramatic reading of a breakup letter
Dramatic Reading of a Breakup Letter
mockery examples
Mockery Examples
  • Ellen/Matthew McConaughey’s commercial

SNL “Beygency”

  • Parody diminishes its subject through imitation and ridicule. Parodies traditionally imitate serious works or people who take themselves too seriously. The true craft of parody is minimal tampering.
  • Examples:

Al Yankovic songs, SNL skits, Key & Peele, etc.

saturday night live
Saturday Night Live

verbal irony
Verbal Irony
  • Verbal irony presents a double meaning in which you say something and mean another. Essentially, it is the use of opposites.
  • Example:
    • “There was no reason for the marriage to fail” following a list of all the reasons the individuals are incompatible.
    • When someone comments on the great weather outside and it’s raining.
mean girls
Mean Girls

  • An expression of strong disapproval, sarcasm is personal, jeering, and typically intended to hurt.
  • Can be considered a kind of verbal irony
  • Example:
    • In Act I, scene i of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Sampson claims, “I strike quickly being moved,” and a few lines later, Gregory responds, “To move is to stir; and to be valiant is to stand: / therefore, if thou art moved, thou runn’st away.”
big bang theory
Big Bang Theory
  • Understatement is a figure of speech in which you say less than what you mean.
  • Example:
    • Chaucer describes his Nun: “She never let a crumb fall from her mouth.”
monty python and the holy grail
Monty Python and the Holy Grail

  • Overstatement is hyperbole, exaggerating by saying more than you mean.
    • Example:
      • “All of them feared him as they feared the plague,” Chaucer says of his Reeve.
the colbert report
The Colbert Report