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Satire defined is “A composition in verse or prose holding up a vice or folly to ridicule or lampooning individuals… The use of ridicule, irony, sarcasm, etc, in speech or writing for the ostensible purpose of exposing and discourage vice or folly” (Johnston, 5). In other words, satire is the use of humor to expose moral behavior of man. In the Aristophanes’ play The Birds, satire is used to mock the common Greek’s dream of ruling the gods that they worship. It mocks the power that they seek to become the supreme ruler of the world. To understand Aristophanes use of satire, one must first understand the role satire plays in sending out its message.
At the basis of satire is a sense of moral outrage. This outrage is wrong and needs to be exposed. The goal of a satire is to correct this misconduct of man in a humorous way that makes the audience relate to the problem and try to correct it. Satire “seeks to use laughter, not just to remind us of our common often ridiculous humanity, but rather to expose those moral excesses, those correctable sorts of behavior which transgress what the writer sees as the limits of acceptable moral behavior” (Johnston, 5). In exposing these foibles, one could discover not to behave in such a manner by realizing his or her mistakes.
When setting up a satire, one must do so in a few steps. The first step is setting up a target which will symbolize the conduct that the satirist wishes to attack. In The Birds, the target is the average Athenian citizen, seeking power Pisthetaerus or in Greek translation, “companion persuader” (Luce, 300). Pisthetaerus is upset with his current living conditions and sets out to seek a new place, far better than his existing residence.
Adding exaggeration and distortion to the target, the satirist then emphasizes the characteristic he wishes to attack. “The target must be close enough to the real thing for us to recognize what is going on, but sufficiently distorted to be funny, an exaggeration, often a grotesque departure from normality” (Johnston, 17). After deciding to create a city strategically located between heaven and earth, so the birds can rule god and man, Pisthetaerus eats a magical root that has the powers to give birth to wings. Although it is evident that humans growing wings is not imaginably possible, the birth of wings does give birth to the power that Pisthetaerus craves more of. This power he craves helps him achieve more of his goal to escape his current conditions to one that submits to no higher deity.
When the target is distorted in an appropriate way, “the satire proceeds by an unrelenting attack. Here the satirist has a variety of weapons, ranging from rude direct insults and a lot of robust physical humor (pratfalls, misunderstandings, mock fights) to more complex assaults parodying various forms of language and belief” (Johnston, 8). When Pisthetaerus “offers himself as the leader who can restore the avine power and prestige that men have usurped” (Luce, 300) and the chorus of birds accept. “Stand forth. Instruct us what to do. We are ready for action, believe it ! We must have our kingship. Death be our choice unless we can somehow retrieve it” (Hadas, 249) He obtains not only the birds consent to take over the birds, but also the rule of man and the gods. This newly acquired power is later spread onto the birds. “When word comes that the great wall of Cloud-Cuckooland is built, no one wonders at the speed. Instead, the birds have boast that they have raised it all by themselves, without human aid: and in preposterous details of the construction… the absurdity of the whole is at once heightened and slipped beyond the barriers of incredulity” (Shipley, 39). When the birds marvel at their masterpiece, they get a sense of power that makes the feel superior to man and god.
When Cloud-Cuckooland is finally setup, the birds along with their leader Pisthetaerus achieves a final feeling of power when Zeus sends a chorus of gods to negotiate with the birds. Because Cloud-Cuckooland is located in-between earth and heaven, the ... more
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Narrative of the Captivity of
The Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson is a personal account, written by Mary Rowlandson in 1682, of what life in captivity was like. Her narrative of her captivity by Indians became popular in both American and English literature. Mary Rowlandson basically lost everything by an Indian attack on her town Lancaster, Massachusetts in 1675; where she is then held prisoner and spends eleven weeks with the Wampanoag Indians as they travel to safety. What made this piece so popular in both England and America was not only because of the great narrative skill used be Mary Rowlandson, but also the intriguing personality shown by the complicated character who has a struggle in recognizing her identity. The reoccurring idea of food and the word remove, used as metaphors throughout the narrative, could be observed to lead to Mary Rowlandsons repression of anger, depression, and realization of change throughout her journey and more so at the end of it.
The idea of food is constantly used throughout the Mary Rowlandsons narrative, because it was the only essential need that she was concerned everyday to survive. Before the captivity, Mary Rowlandson was an innocent housewife that knew nothing of what suffering was like. She has always had plenty of food, shelter, and clothing. As a reader, you can see how her views towards the Indians choice of food gradually changes throughout her journey, and how it is related to the change in her own self. After tragically losing all of her family and her home, she had to repress her feelings to move on with the Indians to survive. She described the Wampanoag Indians at Ravenous beasts when she was captivated, which shows the anger that she felt towards the Indians at that time. The Indians diet was really different from the whites. Rowlandson hardly ate a thing the first week she was held captive. She described the Indians food as filthy trash, and she could starve and die before [she] ate such things (306). As Rowlandsons hunger began to eat her up inside out, she had to repress her spoiled taste and anger in order to survive. During the seventh remove you can see her views of the Indians food change as she got two ears of Indian corn (307) and didnt want to give it up. When one Indian asked her can you eat horse liver? (307), Rowlandson replied that she would try if he would give a piece (307). As she ate it, she described the horse liver as a savory bit it was to me. She explain to herself that for to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet (307). You can see that Rowlandson has experienced a change in her view towards the Indians food. She began being disgusted with their food then gradually precious it. There were many times where Rowlandson felt like she could just lay down and die right there, but as the journey goes on she says I shall not die but live, and declare the works of the Lord (308). Her desire to live was encouraged through her dependence on God, which in turn helped repress her true feelings of depression because of the sufferings she was enduring. As Rowlandsons travels goes on you could see that she has learned to accept the Indians culture. In the eight remove she says I boiled my peas and bear together, and invited my master and mistress to dinner,(309). That statement by Rowlandson does not seem like shes in captivity and that shes actually suffering. She also made clothes for the Indians, which they very much appreciated. Rowlandson realizes as she thinks to herself that throughout her time with the Indians not one of them offered the least imaginable miscarriage to me(310). She has fit herself into the Wampanoag Indian society by suppressing her true feelings of anger and depression towards the Indians in order to survive. During the eighteenth remove she stole a piece of horse feet from a child. Then she claims that the things that my soul refused to touch are as my sorrowful meat(318). Rowlandson seems to be willing to do anything to ... more
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