Techniques of Satire

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Date Submitted: 09/26/2011 09:52 PM

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Techniques of Satire


One of the most effective components of satire is irony – the use of levels of meaning in a statement or event. The first level of meaning is the superficial or stated meaning and the other is the deeper or intended meaning. At times irony is not made obvious until responders have knowledge of the whole work. Dramatic irony in a play, film or television program comes when the two levels of are not apparent to the person speaking but are obvious to the audience.

The audience is given a special knowledge about the action on stage/screen which the characters themselves do not know. They don’t know what everyone else is thinking.


Puns are another satirical device which employs two meanings relying on the different uses of a word. Puns can be used to set the tone of the satirical piece – whether it is light hearted or serious in its intention.


This technique is based on a dramatic situation giving characters opposite roles or changing the word order from back to front for the purpose of ridicule. Inversion works particularly well with characters that are expected to behave or speak in a certain way because of their position in society, yet the satirist will invert their speech or actions to make them seem the opposite of what we expected. Inverted word order can be used in a similar way to make a topic seem trivial or overtly important in order to ridicule it.


This technique of satire relies on imitation and does assume some knowledge on the part of the responder. The style, appearance, words, attitudes, tone and ideas of the composer or character are imitated and often exaggerated to make them appear ridiculous. Certain traits are exaggerated much like a cartoonist draws caricatures. There needs to be a subtle balance between close resemblance to the original and a deliberate distortion of the known characteristics in order for it to be recognised as a parody by the responders.

Juxtaposing; Contrast;...