What is Satire? Essay

“Historically, there have been fewer female writers of satire, and in “The Anatomy Of Satire”, Gilbert Highest suggests woman find satire as a genre less enjoyable to read than men do.”

From your reading of satirical texts this half term, write a response to this statement and explain what it is you have enjoyed or disliked and why, about the satirical works studied - What is Satire? Essay introduction. Be sure to back up your points with plenty of examples.

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The genre of satire provokes much discussion and one of the more obvious talking points is the author and his or her own life. However it has become obvious to me from my wide-ranging studies that there are less female writers, painters or poets than there are males.

Although the point that there have been fewer female satirists than male is a valid one, I think that the female writers who have emerged, such as Carol Ann Duffy, accredited with the national poetry prize; and Caryl Churchill, who’s most notable achievement was producing the satirical play, “Top Girls”, have been very good and in some cases they are as good as, if not better than male satirists.

I have noticed from my recent studies that the good female satirists who have emerged have developed in the last fifty years, a period in which they have been ‘allowed’ to publish pieces of literature, whereas around a century or more ago and in the past, a female offering literature to be read would probably have been laughed at and rubbished without being given a chance. This was due to the social status of woman, when they were worthless to society other than to bear children and in poorer households to look after the family as well.

However since the reign of Margaret Thatcher as the Prime Minister of England, woman have felt that they have more worth to society than merely housewives, this effect has been labeled the Thatcherism effect. The effect has actually been satirized by a female write, “Caryl Churchill”, in the play, “Top Girls”. In the play a naive young lady enters a jobs agency, where she expects to be given the job she designs for herself,

“I’d like a job where I was here in London and with him and everything but now and then”

I think that this statement is satirizing the Thatcherism effect because, due to there being a female in the highest job in the country, this stereotypical young lady of the time believes that she can have the job she wants on the money she wants, regardless of her lack of qualifications and rightness for the job.

I have found that satire as a genre is one which cannot simply be looked at and understood immediately, in particular I have found that this applies to old pieces of satirical work such as Hogarth’s painting, “Morning Levee” need research on the era in which they were written before they can be fully understood and the comic effect can be appreciated. A good example of what I have said is the poem written by Carol Ann Duffy, “Poet For Our Times”. In the poem, several headlines are used which relate to events relevant to the time, for example,

“CECIL-KEAYS ROW SHOCK TELLS EYETIE WAITER.”

This headline wouldn’t be understand by many of today’s generation, for two reasons, firstly because the situation involves an ex-conservative minister, namely Cecil Parkinson and his secretary, Ms.Keays and their sordid affair involving a so called love child. This was obviously a big news story at the time Duffy wrote the poem. The second reason is the language used to describe the waiter, he is called an,

“EYETIE WAITER”

The term “EYETIE” refers to an Italian man. It is a derogatory term, which emerged during the Second World War, mainly due to the Italian Forces joining forces with the Nazis and fighting against the Allied forces. So had the reader not researched some of the tabloid news stories of the time, or lived as an adult in the time, he/she probably wouldn’t have understood the headline.

I think that women wouldn’t enjoy satire as a genre partly for the reason I have given, that research needs to be done about the era before the comic effect and meaning can be appreciated. My reasoning behind this statement is that women generally have less time to do background reading and in any case wouldn’t like to anyway, as some women who I have spoken to are less interested in history than men.

I believe that the main reason for women not liking satire is the sordid stories that are told in order expose the weaknesses of men and women. For example in Hogarth’s painting the “morning levee” the weakness of the lady, who is the center of attention, for another man, other than her husband is exposed. I don’t think women enjoy this because it is making humour of infidelity.

I don’t think that women enjoy satire as much as it often refers to deceitful acts and poking fun at people, they don’t enjoy it as much as men because in my opinion women are better hearted than men and will not stand for people suffering to the extent that men will, just for a laugh, or to sell a few papers or magazines.

Personally I have enjoyed studying the satire genre, however I have found that some pieces can initially come across as having no meaning; however after some background reading they make sense and I appreciate the comic effect and the purpose of the author or artist.

Although I have enjoyed the genre as a whole, due to the background reading I have found it challenging at times and if given the choice on a genre of comedy to read I would prefer a quicker laugh.

In conclusion I think that Gilbert Highest was justified in his statement, however in the next decade or so I think he will be proved wrong as women are becoming more equal with men, and their roles in society and their social standing. With this change in social standing I think will come a change of lifestyle and with that an appreciation of the same kind of things as men, such as satirical work.

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