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How To Write A Satirical Essay

How to Write a Satirical Essay

Satirical essays employ irony, humor, and hyperbole to poke fun at or criticize something or someone. Celebrities, political candidates, or current affairs are usually the subject of a satirical essay. Although a satirist uses humor to present his or her viewpoint, he or she also wants to offer relevant, important, and often overlooked issues in human society.

The satire technique is employed to expose corruption and foolishness of people in public life. This makes celebrities and politicians direct targets of a satirical work. The humor is only a means of highlighting an issue whereas the deeper intention of a satirical work is to improve human society for the better.

Through this article, I hope to give you a few tips on how to write a satirical essay

Choosing the appropriate topic

While an established satirist has the power to see satire in everything that he or she perceives, as a college student, it makes sense to choose a topic that is already quite ridiculous or ironic. This makes your satirical essay writing efforts easier than otherwise. It should be your goal to bring out the topic in an absurd and ludicrous manner. The daily cartoons in your newspaper can be a great source of topics for your satirical essay.

Use literary devices like the hyperbole, irony, understatement, allusion etc

Hyperbole - A hyperbole in the literary world exaggerates an issue or facts without resorting to lies. Hyperbole is an effective literary tool that helps you highlight the absurdity of a situation. For example, "John smoked so much that his annual needs met more than half of the tobacco industry's profits!"

Another classic case of hyperbole is found in Jonathan Swift's writing about the famine in Ireland that happened in the early 18th century. In this essay, he gave the following solution, "Poor people can sell their babies to the rich so that the rich can eat and the poor would have money."

Doesn't this sentence tug at your heartstrings? You know he didn't really mean this but the cruelty that comes across in this hyperbole is meant to wake up the slumbering government of the times.

Irony - When you use phrases or words which literally mean one thing but convey something quite the opposite is an irony. There is a deep sense of sarcasm in an ironical situation. You can also use irony to illustrate the difference between an expectation and the real results. For example, "The landlord is so kind to his bonded laborers that he allows them one visit to the toilet per day." The phrase, "so kind" renders sarcasm to the entire scenario.

Understatement – Quite the opposite of the hyperbole, an understatement intends to make something less important or serious than it actually is. An understatement has a rhetorical effect and, in reality, compels the reader to give the subject more importance. For example, "The destruction from the atomic bomb killed only half the population and merely wounded the rest."

Allusion – is a literary device that which alludes or refers to an event or figure. While mostly allusions are made to events from the past, sometimes current events are also used. An example of an allusion as a form of satire: "Your backyard could have been the Garden of Eden if it were not for the overwhelming mess."

Oxymoron - Using contradictory words together to create an effect is called an oxymoron. For example, "It is an open secret that you and alcohol share such undying love that you are never separated by more than an arm's length from each other."

Parody – A parody is a comical imitation of a famous writer or literary work. The author, work, or genre in question is exaggerated to create a comical effect. Spoofing is a commonly used technique of parody. A parody is used many times in satirical works as it allows the writer a perfect setting for poking fun at someone.

I must reinforce the important aspect of satire here that the wit and humor in a satirical essay are only pointers to help the reader see your actual social or human concern.

Important points to keep in mind while writing satirical essays

  • Make sure your satire is not obscene or nasty. Let it be sharp and compelling; but, absolutely no viciousness is allowed.

  • Using fictional names of places, events, and people based on real-life situations will enhance the exaggeration and satire your writing.

  • If you are writing on a current event, then choose one that is immediately of relevance and not something that is already out of people's minds.

  • You could feign seriousness in your satire. This adds to the fun element. Initially, the reader will think you are talking something really serious and suddenly he or she will be hit by the humor is reflected in your essay!

  • You could exaggerate more than an event has already been exaggerated. If there is a current trend in society, you could talk about where this trend will lead us to in your satirical essay

  • You could turn advice on its head and tell people to do something that they should not be doing. This can also be quite funny. For example, your story could be that of a family that believes playing with food is good behavior for children or making your bed messy after you get back is the family thing that is going on for generations or something like that

  • Keep your sentences short especially the funny ones. If you had to explain your jokes and humor in details because your reader is not able to appreciate them, then obviously you are not doing a great job writing the satire essay. Remember Shakespeare's golden words, "Brevity is the soul of wit."

  • Look for inconsistencies in a story or event or speech of a political leader about which you want to write. For example, a political candidate might make a speech against liberalizing immigration and you know that his parents were immigrants. You could base your satirical essay on this inconsistency

  • Do ample research about the topic unless the essay is based on yourself or someone in your family. Take a critical approach as you do research about the topic and make sure you know everything there is to know about it. This will give you far more options to create that perfect satirical essay and also help keep your essay consistent with the facts.

  • Satire is a very unique and a challenge format. Read up satire works. And then answer the following questions. It will help you get a deeper understanding of how satirical essays are written:

    • What is the subject of the satire?

    • Who is the targeted audience?

    • What does the author want to prove or say?

    • What other ways you can make a satire out of the piece you are reading?

    • Did the satire meet the requirements, meaning to say, did you get the author's core ideas implicitly?

  • Poke fun of those problems that you want to highlight in your essay. While you may not be able to make the entire country sit up with your first satire essay (I am not saying it is not possible; I only ask you to start small), if it makes the reader change his or her perception, your satirical essay has achieved its purpose.

Final Notes

Satire is not just difficult; it compels you to reach the depths of your creativity. Yet, a good satirical writing has the power to change the world. And all you need to do with your satirical essay is to impress your teacher so that she can give you a good grade.

Even with all the tips and strategies mentioned in the article, you are unable to write a good satirical essay, our experts at Prescott Papers are waiting for you to contact us.

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