Young readers are often introduced to satire for the first time with the short story, “A Modest Proposal”. Written in 1729 by Jonathan Swift of the UK, the story pokes fun at the tumultuous relationship of the British & Irish of the early 18th century. Rather than regurgitating events of the time, Swift creates a narrative in which the British suggest the Irish eat their children, reducing the Irish population. When first read, some may take the tale literally, but reading this tale through a satirical lens, we can better understand how Swift’s satire was successful into modern day. Swift’s clear topic of interest and purposeful language are the major factors for his success.
Swift began his satirical work with a purpose, belittling the Irish. Rather than being outright crass, he opted to create a satirical piece. When you have been assigned the task of creating a satirical work of writing be sure to carefully consider your topic, and the room for satire it allows. Your satirical topic must have room for humor and sarcasm, not all topics are conducive to this style of writing. For instance, writing an essay about school uniforms would likely not make for the easiest or most successful satirical work. Some more successful satirical topics are historical occurrences or politics, which have plenty of room for creative stories, references, analogies and allusions—keys to engaging satire.
When writing satire word choice and tone are incredibly important. Satirical writing creates its tone with purposeful language and subtle choices. In other words, this would not be the appropriate time to whip out your thesaurus and arbitrarily select synonyms for your vocab choices. Make sure to select words with purpose, using vocabulary choices you not only know the definition of, but also have a full knowledge of its use and tone. A good example of this is the word confused. Oxford Dictionary defines confused as, “unable to think clearly; bewildered” We may also use the words anxious or chaotic to describe a situation in which a person would feel confused, but both anxious and chaotic are incredibly unique words when we really ponder them. Your language will be deeply read in a satirical work, so these subtleties are important.
Taking a purposeful topic and strong language into consideration when writing satire will set you up for success. These tips will assist you in picking a fresh topic, and just remember to have fun! This is a relaxed style of writing, which is intended to not only be fun to read—but fun to write, too!
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