Social Problems or Customs From

Swift was outraged at the dire conditions present in Ireland. However, rather than writing angrily about the Irish famine, Swift instead wrote a Modest Proposal, suggesting that the Irish should eat their own children to solve both hunger and overpopulation. Another example of hyperbole is found in the character of Dr. Pangloss in Voltaires Candide. In Candide, Voltaire satirizes idealistic philosophy. Dr. Pangloss is such an absurdly idealistic philosopher, he insists that everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds, even when the characters confront horrific fates, like being nearly burnt to death by the Spanish Inquisition.

Another common technique used in satire is irony, where the author says one thing but means another, particularly as a method of making people laugh at their follies. In Alexander Popes “The Rape of the Lock,” Pope uses an epic style to describe a minor society incident, in which a pretty girls lock of hair is lopped off. While the style of the poem suggests that the reader should take the events seriously, Popes deliberately ironic contrast between tone and subject matter suggests the opposite.

Similarly, Cervantes Don Quixote ironically depicts a mad knights quest to relive the chivalry of the Middle Ages as an epic struggle, even when the knight is obviously foolish, as when he attacks a series of windmills like they are charging horses.

A final common characteristic of satire is its use of flat, stereotyped characters to morally chastise people by creating unlikeable one-dimensional protagonists. Characters in satires are not used to explore psychological nuances; rather characters foibles are used to make a point about human behavior. As funny and clever as Candide is, Cunegonde remains shallow and petty, Candide is a wide-eyed innocent, and Pangloss is always an optimist throughout the tale. Real people would likely become quickly hardened by the events of the book — starting with the first chapter! The characters of “The Rape of the Lock: are similarly.

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