CHY 4U 2011: Authority and Satire

Our next major focus is the French Revolution. To understand more about the divisions in French society, we will begin by considering the relationship between authorities and their subordinates. 

First, consider the following questions:

  • How do you typically respond to unfair treatment from an authority figure?
  • When is it okay to “fight back” against the authority?
  • What techniques do you use? What are the dangers of direct confrontation?

We will dedicate the rest of our day to satire. My favourite definition of satire comes from John Dryden, who wrote that satire is “the amendment of vice by correction,” or the attempt to change “the bad” by pointing out what makes it so wrong. Traditionally, satirists use humour to make their point; let’s look at a couple of examples:

Let’s watch as Stephen Colbert explains truthiness

Read the excerpt from the Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift. You will find this in your textbook.  In your notes explain:

  • the literal argument Swift seems to be making
  • the “error” and the authority Swift is satirizing

Finally, I want you to write a few examples of satire on your own. You need to identify an “error” and use humour to demonstrate the error. I’d like you to do this by using a dictionary style entry in keeping with those in the Doubter’s Companion. I’ll read a few examples for you.


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