What Makes Good Writing?

• Satire comes from the Latin term in lanx
satura, which means “a dish filled with
mixed fruits”
• Satire was developed in ancient Greece,
with writers such as Aristophanes,
Juvenal, Horace, Martial, and Petronius.
• It persisted throughout the Middle Ages in
Satire – a work in any medium that
uses humor and wit to expose
problems with humanity or society
Defining Characteristics
• The creator of the work infuses it with
humor. This humor oftentimes is dry or
• The “poking fun” is intended to inspire
change in society.
– It is not a mere attack – this would be
invective instead of satire.
– It does not take a “woe is me” attitude – this
would be an irony or Jeremiad.
• Many works of satire deal with fools, oafs,
and frauds.
• Usually, the individual is spared – the
satirist is poking fun at a specific group of
people or element of society.
• Satire’s rule of thumb: “Pass over a single
foe to charge whole armies.”
Kinds of Satire
• There are two classification criteria for
– Formal vs. Informal Satire
• Does the author/narrator speak directly or are they
more subtle?
• Is the work an essay or a narrative?
– Horatian versus Juvenalian
• Is the humor light-hearted or cruel?
• Is the mood of the work upbeat or angry?
Formal or Direct Satire
– The author or narrator speaks directly to
the reader
– Usually in the first person
– Almost always essay format, but
sometimes done in narrative
– Examples: Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest
Proposal,” numerous writings of Mark
Informal or Indirect Satire
– The author pokes fun by showing ridiculous
characters and their actions
– Usually a narrative centered around
bumbling buffoons, idiots, etc.
– Most great works of literary satire are
– Examples: Carl Hiaasen’s Sick Puppy,
works of George Orwell
Horatian Satire
Named after Greek poet Horace
More upbeat humor
Usually gentle and urbane
Tries to evoke reactions of sympathetic
Juvenalian Satire
• Named after the Greek poet Juvenal
• Biting, scathing, and bitter
• Usually deals with corruption of and
contempt for individuals or elements of
• Most political satire is Juvenalian
• By far the most common mood of satire
Tools of the Satirist
• Parody – mocking a well-known or traditional
style by changing it for humorous effect
Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart
Horace Miner
“Weird Al” Yankovic
Austin Powers, Scary Movie
• Invective – sharp, angry, biting language
• Farce – ridiculous, exaggerated situations
• Sarcasm – biting, witty, mocking remarks