English Paper Exaggeration

Elizabeth Freiburger
Mrs. Jorgensen
English III
December 10 2018
Satire Essay: Exaggeration
“Good satire comes from anger. It comes from a sense of injustice, that there are
wrongs in the world that need to be fixed. And what better place to get that well of
venom and outrage boiling than a newsroom, because you're on the front lines”.
(Hiaasen, Carl) Satire defined by Merriam-Webster means, “ A literary work holding up
human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn. Trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to
expose and discredit vice or folly” (Webster, Merriam). Back in the early 7th century
satirical works had already started to affect people, by persuading them, making fun of
them, etc. The use of satire varies depending on the topic of the writing. Such as if
someone wrote about something to raise awareness of a cause, similar to how people had
before. Satire still has some of the same techniques that show up in today’s literature as
it had in the 7th century. People use visual satire by acting things out to emphasis the
topic and mock it. Meanwhile people use written satire by writing papers, statements or
making speeches. Many people use both versions of satire to illustrate their ideas and to
make their points more distinct. One technique of satire to focus on has occurred in many
different works all the way from the time of The Canterbury Tales to today's SNL skits.
Exaggeration means, “To magnify beyond the limits of truth; overstate”
(Dictionary.com). Exaggeration used in The Canterbury Tales, A Modest Proposal, SNL
skit Science Project, and SNL skit Guns can criticize, and mock better than incongruity,
parody or reversal. For instance in The Miller's tale, exaggeration shows how the values
of the higher class do not apply to the lower class and how ridiculous those set values
Chaucer uses exaggeration in the Miller’s tale to criticize arranged marriages and
the rules of Courtly Love. Exaggeration works the best to help create his idea that the
higher-class values do not work for everyone in the other social classes. He does this by
exaggerating the age difference between John, the carpenter and his wife, Alison who
both live in the lower classes. When he describes John he notes that John lives as a, “Rich
old codger” (Chaucer), meanwhile Alison appears as, “Certainly she had a lecherous
eye...Skittish she was, jolly as a colt” (Chaucer). He then points out how their marriage
does not work because of the age difference between the two that, “She was a girl of
eighteen years of age, jealous he was and kept her in the cage for he was old and she was
wild and young” (Chaucer). During the Medieval time many people married based not on
love, but on power or money. Meaning that the women would usually not have the choice
of choosing whom to marry. Chaucer begins to describe another character Absalon who
falls deeply in love with Alison, despite her marriage with John. Absalon tells Alison of
his love for her in different ways, all the time and does this by following the rules of
Courtly Love. Chaucer exaggerates Absalon sticking to the rules by showing him sending
her things and always thinking of her. Chaucer even states that, “And turning to his wife
said, ‘Alison! Wife! Do you hear him? Chanting under our chamber wall” and she said
‘…God knows I hear it all” (Chaucer). Absalon goes as far as singing outside of her
window at night, yet she does not care. He performs many other acts of ‘love’ for her
throughout the tale and all of them mean nothing to her. Towards the end though he
comes back to her house for a kiss and refuses to leave until he gets a kiss. Absalon says,
“I’m so deep in love…I eat as little as a girl at school” (Chaucer), exclaiming and
exaggerating his love for Alison. Absalon begins to get desperate by this point, and tries
anything to get a kiss that he has long waited for. She agrees to give him only one kiss
but does this to trick him. As a result, following the rules of Courtly Love Absalon and
John both have a worse fate than people who had not. Chaucer does this to show that in
real life things do not always work out for those who had done right by the rules of
Courtly Love. Similarly, exaggeration used in A Modest Proposal political issues of the
Jonathan Swift, author of A Modest Proposal, saw the many ongoing issues in his
country and decided to do something about it. Swift wrote an essay stating all of the
issues, using exaggeration to illustrate the already extremely poor conditions for the
lower classes. The conditions of living and the rate of poverty had reached a new level of
intensity described as, “Streets, the roads… crowded with beggars of the female sex,
followed by three, four, or six children ” (Swift). Jonathan describes how the future that
poor children have involves a life of begging or thieving. He then exaggerates the ‘easy’
solution to this country’s epidemic, by saying that babies would help the economy by
serving as food. He then explains how similar to other livestock, babies will sell more in
some seasons compared to other. He states, “...reckoning a year after Lent, the markets
will be more gutted than usual” (Swift). Jonathan uses exaggeration again to talk about
the amount of children affected by the poverty rates by saying, “...maintenance of
hundred thousand children, from two years old and upwards, cannot be computed at less
than ten shillings a piece per annum” (Swift). Jonathan points out the issues of this time
and criticizes the lack of a solution for the epidemic.
Another equally important use of exaggeration includes, the SNL skit “Science Project”.
The SNL skit “Science Project” uses exaggeration to criticize how athletes get
special treatment compared to students who work hard for their grades. This skit shows
how students who play sports get better grades because the colleges want their school to
do well in sports. The presentations begin by viewing the judges one by one. The first one
has an autographed hat from Ray, which already shows the bias toward Ray receiving a
good grade. Similar to when the final judge appears wearing face paint for the school
colors, exaggerating that athletes receive special treatment for doing sports. Another
example of exaggeration would be when Ray gives his presentation. Ray’s project
pertains to bananas and the types, so he begins stating, “There’s five types of bananas;
yellow, brown spotted, very brown, green and round”. His ‘round banana’ exaggerates
his stupidity since an orange represents the round banana. The other students have actual
science and time put into their work, but they both receive bad grades, compared to Ray,
who had gotten one hundred percent for his bananas nailed to a piece of plywood.
In this skit by SNL the exaggeration of guns happens by guns popping up in
normal everyday life situations. The SNL skit tries to show and exaggerate the standpoint
of those who support the second amendment right to bear arms, but focused more on the
extremists’ views. Throughout this skit guns began to become used in situations that
seem too abnormal. Such as when the people at the party used a gun as the game spin the
bottle. By showing how people take their guns with them everywhere, such as work, runs,
and dates. This helps to point out how guns become a part of people's lives more and
more, but more than they should be. Similar to when, the women giving birth grabs her
gun as a sign of comfort. Which exaggerates how they begin to appear so normal that
people have begun to seek comfort in them. Even though the narrator talking in the
background makes it seem like a heartfelt commercial, the satire used here shows the
audience that having guns becoming established in all of the little to big moments in life.
Exaggeration has proven the most effective technique of satire by criticizing and
mocking better than the other techniques. The use of satire in The Canterbury Tales, A
Modest Proposal, SNL skit Science Project, and SNL skit Guns all show how well
exaggeration criticizes the topic at hand. Even though satire appears as an old technique,
it still has much relevance in today’s society. Many people use satire to mock and ridicule
issues that they believe should change.
Work Cited:
Chaucer, Geoffrey “The Miller’s Tale” The Canterbury Tales. pp. 86-106.
Swit, Jonathan. “A Modest Proposal” and other short pieces. Pennsylvania State
2008. PDF
Live, Saturday Night, director. Guns. YouTube, YouTube, 11 Oct. 2015,
Live, Saturday Night, director. Science Presentation. YouTube, YouTube, 11 Dec. 2016,