Use of Satire in Writing

Use of Satire inWriting

In its broadest sense, satireis one of the commonly used literature devices or literature genre.It is used in performing art, graphics as well as written literature.Satire involves the use of ridicule and mild abuses with an intentionof passing a particular message. Satire in various forms have beenused to a shame or expose individuals, government officials,organizations or a particular society with an aim of forcing them toimprove in a particular aspect that has been addressed. Although as aliterature device, satire is humorous and entertainment oriented, itsmain purpose is criticism of a particular actions or inaction byattraction attention to the issue (Simpson, 2003). The main featureof satire in writing is irony, which is exaggerated to attractattention. Satire, especially in speech writing and comical plays hasbeen used in form of a double entendre. This is a figurative speechin which the message can be interpreted in two ways. One of themessages has a subtle and the intended meaning, while the othermeaning is socially funny and awkward. The awkward meaning of thetext will attract attention while the audience is left to interpretthe message later. For example, in a famous pop song by BellemyBrothers, “if I said you had a beautiful body would you hold itagainst me” is an example of double entendre. The writer of thesong intended to ask whether the person in question would be offendedthe complement, but chose a more sexy meaning to attract theattention. Although majority of satires in writing are funny, wherelaughter is a basic aspect of it, some satirical writings are notintended to be funny. On the other hand, writing can be funnywithout satire (Knight, 2008).

Satire has been used inliterature throughout history. This is because it is one of the mosteffective ways of communication. The comic in satire plays animportant role in understanding a society. It is provide the mostessential and imminent tool of understanding the collectivepsychology of a group since it reveals the power structures, valuesand tastes in the society. Some writers have argued that the use ofcomic in writing is a superior literature that can be used tounderstand the human behavior and anthropology of a social group. Forexample, satirical literature in the slavery era, ancient Greece themedieval Europe has been very useful to scholars studying humanbehaviors and social structures in history. Throughout history,satire has been used to ridicule the elites in the society. Politicaland religious leaders in different ages of civilization have beenridiculed through literature and graphics as a way of expressingpublic discourse with their actions or inactions or express the powerof the public (Knight, 2008). Satire can also be used to shapebehaviors of a particular society. For example, collective imagerycan be used to criticize a particular undesirable behavior observedin a society. Although satire is not depended on political and socialfreedom, some people have argued that the modern American culture ismore welcoming to contemporary satire. This is due to the huge roleplayed by satire in shaping the United States, starting from theadvent of counterculture in the 1960 and 1970s where satire inwriting boomed due to the popularity of stand up comedy and massiveuse of political satire. Nonetheless, satire has been observed inwritings from all societies (Knight, 2008).


Knight, C. (2008). Theliterature of satire,Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Simpson, P. (2003). Onthe discourse of satire: towards a stylistic model of satiricalhumour, Amsterdam:John Benjamins Publishing Company.