Satire in Moliere’s Tartuffe and Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal

free essay Satire is known to be a specific genre of literature, which may occasionally use graphical and performing arts in order to ridicule society and stimulate its self-improvement. Due to the fact that social criticism is the main objective of satire, it frequently applies repartee combined with dark sarcasm in order to depict and vividly demonstrate its point. Satire stimulates people to reassess themselves so as to change their nonsensical concepts and conducts. Numerous different techniques are applied in order to convey a satirical effect. The paper will demonstrate these methods, stressing wit as the major weapon. Such methods tune the assimilation of coexisting banal and crucial problems, depicting them as admiration and compliments, but implying the opposite to depict irony. Moreover, the author can also de-emphasize a problem so as to intrigue the audience and direct it towards the genuine significance of the topic, while overstatement is applied to attenuate the affect of a problem due to its lesser value. The combination of these techniques is used to uncover the human foolishness and taints of the society. Both Moliere’s Tartuffe and Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal demonstrate that authors indirectly denounce and traverse human conduct and the perceptions people have regarding each other. Despite the fact that both literary pieces illustrate satire, Moliere’s play Tartuffe can be regarded as a more effective delivery. In fact, Moliere’s prevailing method is more efficient because of its diligent usage of comedic language, which attracts the attention of the audience better. Moreover, religious hypocrisy is demonstrated via numerous satirical techniques, while individual’s good nature is made controversial when the play develops into a twisted irony. Finally, the play can be regarded as an effective satire as it vividly depicts the character development.

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The underlying theme of Tartuffe concerns hypocrisy, which is depicted through the conduct of the antagonist. Hypocrisy is incarnated in Tartuffe’s character, which seems to be ostentatious in his manners, while being genuinely a delinquent. Moliere illustrates the diversity of human personalities by merely demonstrating how readily and doubtlessly Orgon accepted Tartuffe’s false performance. With the help of Orgon’s disbeliefs, the author demonstrates the audience the families’ response to his gullibility. Despite the fact that numerous problems and conducts are satirized, the major purpose of the play is to unmask the matter of religious hypocrisy. Tartuffe is a representative of religious hypocrites in the society who sermonize religiously but do not actually apply these moral values in their own lives. When Orgon reveals Tartuffe’s true hypocritical nature, he displays a deceived prodigal and irrepressible nature. Orgon’s character is depicted as lacking rationale reflected in his decisions, as he continuously shifts between nonsensical extremes.

On the other hand, Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal can be characterized as a dehumanizing and disturbing satirical essay. While using the main character, the author satirizes the brutal settings between the English Protestants and Irish Catholics, at times when the English controlled Ireland. The narrator is the most effective tool in Swift’s satire. He demonstrates the apparent savage proposal delineating its intent to sell children of the lower class to the aristocrats to be eaten as a delicacy. Despite the fact that it sounds absurd, the matter is presented and delivered with great sincerity. The irony develops into evident absurdness in a phrase: “A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends; and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and, seasoned with a little pepper or salt, will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter” (Swift 54). The author further exaggerates the satirical nature of the proposal by demonstrating statistics, estimations, demonstrating the age and gender of the children who would be sold and the methods of making them more profitable. Swift’s satirical methods enforce when the author demonstrates Irish children, while highlighting the awfulness of the situation and absence of methods to improve it. The author did not make any specific social class uniquely responsible, as the work affected both the high-up politicians and the lowest class.

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Moliere’s Tartuffe (the word means ‘the hypocrite’ in French), is known to be one of the most diverting plays on human greediness and manipulation. The author created this comedy in order to criticize people who use religion for their own gain. Moliere accomplishes all comic effect craftily using the style and the language of the play. The author satirizes the false devoutness of all people pretending to show humility, who wear a devotional, righteous visage simultaneously having lustful thoughts. Nevertheless, Dorine, who is the good-sense maid in the comedy, understands the true nature of Tartuffe quite early in the play: “he’s pulled the wool right over yours but our eyes see a hypocrite” (Moliere 15). Thus, religion is obviously is the comedy’s fundamental topic. Tartuffe appears in the play summoning religious devoutness, gradually leading Orgon into a manipulative plan to discard his family’s welfare. Due to the fact that Tartuffe was a representative of the church, Organ’s superabundance of credit and desire to become closer with God can be easily understood. Tartuffe can be regarded as a master of deception due to the fact that his most immoral actions are understood as manifestation of morality and piety. Orgon claims: “[Tartuffe’s] interest in my wife is reassuring…he tells me whom she sees and what she does…it’s for my honor that he’s so concerned (Moliere 12). Orgon’s attitude is ridiculous, due to dramatic satire, as the audience knows quite well why Tartuffe is so thoughtful to Elmire. This phrase is a nice presentation of the entire comedy, as it illustrates both the ironic satire and severe difference between veracity and visibility, which penetrate into the whole play. Thus, using satire, Moliere tries to illustrate the ridiculousness of arbitrary confidence in representatives of the religious community. However, when Orgon finally understands the true nature of Tartuffe and his lust for Elmira, the author utilizes the best satirical lines of the whole comedy through Tartuffe: “Though pious, I am none the less a man; and when a man beholds your heavenly charms, the heart surrenders, and can think no more” (Moliere 56).

On the other hand, Swift’s A Modest Proposal, which copies the voice of logics for social reorder, demonstrates statistics and law in a form of a weird and awkward proposal, making the satire ineffective. Initially, the author seems compassionate regarding Irish people. Later, the tone and form of delivery is changed into a more assertive one. The author modifies the essay’s tone to a shocking state making A Modest Proposal absolutely opposing to its name. It seems that horror and irony do not make an effective satirical combination in this case. In addition, author commonly satirizes via irony, especially commentating on babies and their mothers. Irony, which is known to be a usage of contradictory language, appears as highly effective in the work by itself. Thus, the author uses the phrase: “sacrifice the poor innocent babies [to] prevent…voluntary abortions and [the] horrid practice of women murdering their bastard children” (Swift 54). Thus, the author uses irony to show the fact that women perform abortions instead of being ashamed of losing a child, while the quantity of abortions should the main point of their concern.

The paper demonstrates that satire is an effective method to depict the taints, blindness, and imprudence in society. Both works depict that satire may use different tools ranging from comedy to dark irony, as they help the audience understand what satire attempts to portray. Moliere’s Tartuffe satirically demonstrates the audience the instability of the most important, meaningful moral issues, which makes it more effective. The play forces readers to admit and acknowledge numerous threats to rationality, which might be taken for granted.

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