Literary Devices Used in Satire

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Literary Devices Used in Satire by Mind Map: Literary Devices Used in Satire

1. allusion

1.1. a subtle reference to another piece of work, usually literature

1.2. The name Cunegonde

1.2.1. The name Cunegonde is an allusion to the female Saint who remained chaste and loyal to her husband despite the accusations surrounding her. The name also contains a french root with sexual innuendo.

1.2.2. The usage of this name shows both extremes of how a woman is most commonly portrayed and Voltaire satirizes the unbalance many authors gear towards when using female characters.

1.3. "As you know, the two countries are at war over a few acres of snow on the Canadian border," (p. 23)

1.3.1. This is a historical allusion to the Seven Years War between France and Britain over Canada.

1.3.2. Voltaire criticizes such warring because it has very little positive effects. People kill and fight over a "few acres of snow" and France, due to its losses ends up losing many of its colonies too.

2. hyperbole

2.1. Exaggerations not meant to be taken literally, often used to prove or exaggerate a point

2.2. "Pangloss taught metaphysico-theologico-cosmo-nigology." (pg. 4)

2.2.1. This is an example of hyperbole because the subject of Pangloss' teaching is exaggerated to prove a point. There is no such thing as metaphysico-theologico-cosmo-nigology. However, Voltaire exaggerates the name of the subject to make it sound ridiculous.

2.2.2. Voltaire's hyperbole makes the subject that Pangloss teaches sound ridiculous. In doing so, Voltaire is satirizing people who make their jobs or deeds seem grand when, in fact, there is absolutely no substance under the glossing.

2.3. "he saw the two girls throw their arms lovingly around the two apes and collapse in tears over their corpses, filling the air with the most pitiful lamentations," (p. 40)

2.3.1. Voltaire exaggerates the queerness of the girls' partners and goes as far as to make them "apes." Therefore, this is an example of an exaggeration.

2.3.2. Voltaire is satirizing the fact that some people tend to choose unexplainably incompatible partners. At the same time, Candide's inability to be more open minded and understanding is also criticized.

3. irony

3.1. an unravelling of events that seem to contradict the expected in a satirical way

3.2. "and they are spending rather more on their lovely war than the whole of Canada is worth." (69)

3.2.1. This sentence demonstrates an ironic situation because the money put in fighting over a piece of land is worth more than the actual prize. Therefore, the object of desire is questionable. Does it make sense to spend so much money to acquire something of smaller value? It's ironic that the war itself costs more than Canada.

3.2.2. Voltaire criticizes the blindness of war. The prices are huge while the gain is small.

3.3. " 'That worthy old man seems to have created for himself an existence far preferable to that of the six kings with whom we had the honour of dining' " (pg. 93)

3.3.1. The situation in which Candide meets the Turk with just 20 acres of land demonstrates an irony. Candide, through his travels, have met many people- the wealthy, the deceptive, the miserable. He has also met some kings and leaders, all of whom has or had more riches than this Turk. However, as it turns out, the Turk with "but twenty acres" is one of the rare people with true happiness.

3.3.2. This irony satirizes the wealthy and unhappy people of the world. Voltaire may mean to say that even though these people may have been kings, they are foolish because they do not know how to be happy.

4. parody

4.1. humorously exaggerated imitation of another work

4.2. “she was herself infected, and may now be dead. Paquette received this present from a very learned Franciscan, who could trace it back to its source; for he had it from a cavalry captain…” (11)

4.2.1. This is a parody of biblical genealogy. It is a parody because the structure resembles the genealogy in the Bible. Voltaire switched it from biblical ancestry to tracing Siphilis.

4.2.2. This parody goes against the idea of optimism. By connecting a disease like Syphilis to God’s workings, Voltaire has proved the world is not the best of all possible worlds. In addition, the widespread effects of this sexual transmitted disease shows how dishonest many people are in terms of their private lives.

4.3. “Governor, Don Fernando d’Ibaraa y Figuera y Mascarenes y Lampourdos y Souza” (32)

4.3.1. This is a parody of the standard way people use titles. By changing the content a little and keeping the same structure, Voltaire has successfully parodied a calling of society.

4.3.2. This parody is used to satirize the Governors position. His area of government has been made unreasonable and as a result, his entire title sounds like non-sense.

5. oxymoron

5.1. A statement with contradicting words or ideas. (Greek: Sharply dull)

5.2. "A passerby who had never been baptized, a good Anabaptist named Jacques, saw the cruel and ignominious logic thus being meted out to one of this brothers," pg. 9

5.2.1. The fact of having "never been baptized" contradicts the identity of a "good Anabaptist." Therefore, this sentence is an oxymoron.

5.2.2. Voltaire is satirizing the hypocrisy of many religious people. Their words and actions contradict one another like Jacques, the good Anabaptist who was never baptized even as an adult.

5.3. " 'I am familiar with the gibberish these people speak. I will address them.' " (p. 41)

5.3.1. Because the word gibberish means useless or incomprehensible speech or writing, it doesn't make sense that Cacambo is "familiar" with it and can address them. Therefore this is an oxymoron.

5.3.2. Using this oxymoron, Voltaire criticizes Cacambo and his self-appointed ability to converse in various language. In other words, many feats people claim to have accomplished or skills they claim to own is not entirely true.

6. understatement

6.1. A toned down version of the original in terms of impact, size, severity, importance

6.2. “ ‘All we ask… is a few sheep loaded with provisions, with pebbles, and with the mud of your country.’ ” (50)

6.2.1. This is a serious understatement. The “pebbles” and “mud” of Eldorado are rubies, diamonds, gold, and other extremely valued gems in the outside world.

6.2.2. Voltaire sets up a place like Eldorado and understates everything valued in the common world to criticize how much people hang their heads over what is in essence, rocks from the Earth.

6.3. “ ‘ Yes, Monsieur, … it is the custom. Twice a year we are given a pair of blue canvas drawers, and this is our only clothing.’ ”

6.3.1. To call such inhumane treatment “the custom” and be seemingly accepting of it is understating the harsh reality for slaves.

6.3.2. Voltaire means to criticize the ignorance of those around who do not aim to change a situation. Now, the lack of change has made it an obvious and old fact.