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Satire in Moliere’s and Swift’s Writings

World literature represents a rich heritage of the various nations. The writings teach the readers diverse aspects of the man’s life. Some pieces of literature are dramatic or tragic while the others are comic. However, all kinds of literary works have the purpose to educate the public. Among the vast variety of writers, two great authors represent satire in their works in different ways. Moliere’ Tartuffe is considered to be the book with less effective satire because a comic element may not be taken seriously. On the contrary, Swifts’ A Modest Proposal is defined to possess more effective satire due to real solutions, authentic statistics, and shock value.

Before analyzing the writings, it is essential to define satire. It is a literary technique implemented by writers to reveal and analyze corruption and foolishness of a person or a society by employing irony, humor, ridicule or exaggeration. It contemplates improving humankind by criticizing its foibles and follies. In satire, a writer attempts to depict fictional characters that embody real people, to disclose and denounce their corruption. In addition, a writer indicates the relationship with the entire world, country or a person. Satire is considered to be a comic piece of writing that pours scorn on a person or a society to disclose their ignorance and defects. Finally, the writer and readers expect the characters to overcome their weaknesses via undergoing many severe trials.


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Satirical element in Moliere’s Tartuffe

Tartuffe is one of the most prominent Moliere’s plays. It is a great example of satire hidden in the comedy.

Mariane’s words “You know that fathers have such sway/ Over our lives that I’ve nothing to say./ I’ve never had the strength” explain her father’s decision to approve the marriage with Tartufe. Her father does not ask about her desires. The situation represents the gender distinction of the 17th century, when women had to follow their men’s wish. Therefore, Mariane does not influence the action of the event. On the contrary, she becomes a pawn in the entire situation. However, her threatening marriage assists in the creation of the conflict. Additionally, Mariane is contrasted to Dorine. Being a lower class woman, she possesses more freedom than the noblewoman does.

“His interest in my wife is reassuring,/ She’s innocent, but so alluring,/He tells me whom she sees and what she does./ He’s more jealous than I ever was./ It’s for my honor that he’ so concerned”, Orgon says to his brother-in-law. The words explain his acquaintance with Tartuffe. They suggest Orgon’s fascination with the daughter’s future husband. Despite all the family and the wife’s suspiciousness, Orgon trusts his new friend. The moment represents the essential idea of the play. The audience observes dramatic effect of the situation. The hidden irony shows the difference between the appearance and truth that infuses the entire plot.

“There’ll be no sins for which we must atone, /Cause evil only exists when it’s known”, says Tartuffe at the end of the play. The audience realizes that lust is his main shortcoming. The lines are the instance of the lie told by many lovers. It assists them in fooling themselves or others, while being involved in the undesirable intercourses. Tartuffe’s intention to assemble deceit fails in the moment. Orgon hides under the table. All the events create an amusing picture with dramatic irony. Overall, the quote teaches the audience to be careful with people.

Moliere’s play is amusing. Through laughter, the readers realize the problems of humans beings. They observe typical situations from everyday life. Probably, they can even compare themselves to the characters or find some familiar traits. Nevertheless, satire hidden in the play becomes less effective because the literary work is the comedy. People may not take into consideration the message of the play seriously. It is hard to perceive serious information since they burst their sides with laughter.

Satirical element in Swifts’ A Modest Proposal

The reader meets satirical elements in Swift’s A Modest Proposal from the beginning of the pamphlet. Jonathan Swift’s work comprises a great number of authentic statistics and data to support fierce arguments provided by the author. He states the number of children who live in the inappropriate living conditions. There are thousands of families all over the country, which do not have the basic means of subsistence.

The writer suggests a real solution to the problem, which is to serve the children of the poor people on the table of the wealthy ones. They should be sold to the rich people as delicious food. Children may also be salted and peppered to preserve for winter. Additionally, there are calculations of the children’s price. It is about ten shillings for every child. Eight shillings may profit the parents. Moreover, child’s skin may be used as raw material to produce shoes and clothes for rich people. Through satire, Swift raises the problem of poverty in his country together with the exploitation of the cheap labor. He ridicules the government’s actions and its treatment of the poor. Apathy exists in the society. The only real solution to the problem that Swift sees is to horrify people by proposing to kill and eat children. All the same, they die from starvation.

Jonathan Swift attempts to restore the most precious human’s value, which is one’s life. Numerous deaths every day make people accustomed to the grief and pay less attention to the problem. However, the issue exists and remains horrifying. The author thinks of the Irish and English landowners, who kill citizens with misery and poverty. The writer provides a list of all the possible choices to resolve the situation in Ireland. He demands “Of learning to love our country; Of quitting our animosities and factions, nor acting any longer like those who were murdering one another at the very moment their city was taken; Of being a little cautious not to sell our country and conscience for nothing; Lastly, of putting a spirit of honesty, industry, and skill into our shop – keepers.”

The entire pamphlet is considered to be satire. It helps the author to acknowledge the problem and prove its existence. Exaggerating the problem and coloring it with shades of satire helps people open their eyes and start fighting. Jonathan Swift appeals to the public as well as to its leaders. His writing is a mean to prevent the results of the grief in the society. He longs to make his country prosperous and the people happy.

Swifts’ satire becomes effective because of the number of facts presented in the writing. Evidentially, the author exaggerates the aspect of selling children as food and raw material. However, the description influences people’s consciousness because of the seriousness and actuality of the idea. Providing the price of life supported with authentic statistics shocks the readers. However, the solution to the problem is also impressive. Satire opens and exaggerates the issue. Meanwhile, it stimulates people to act because of the significance of the presented problem.


Satire is a mean to present flaws and defects of the society. They are not shown directly but hidden under the veil. Satire helps readers receive the information about the real problem. It depends on author whether it is a humorous or serious writing. As a result, it provides diverse influence on the public with higher or lower effectiveness.

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