Juvenalian And Horatian Satire
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Juvenalian and Horatian Satire'Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody'sface but their own; which is the chief reason for that kind of reception itmeets in the world, and that so very few are offended with it.' Jonathan Swift(1667-1745), Anglo-Irish satirist. The Battle of the Books, Preface (written1697; published 1704).Satire is known as the literary style which makes light of a subject, diminishing its importance by placing it in an amusing or scornful light. Unlikecomedy, satire attempts to create humor by deriding its topic, as opposed to atopic that evokes laughter in itself. Satires attempt to give us a more humorouslook at attitudes, advances, states of affairs, and in some cases ( as inJonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal ) the entire human race. The least offensiveform of satire is Horatian satire, the style used by Addison and Steele in theiressays. A much more abrasive style is Juvenalian satire, as used by JonathanSwift in the aforementioned essay A Modest Proposal.
To better understand satireas a whole, and Horatian and Juvenalian satire in particular, these
essays canprovide for further comprehension than a simple definition of the style alone. Horatian satire is noted for its more pleasant and amusing nature. Unlike Juvenalian satire, it serves to make us laugh at human folly as opposedto holding our failures up for needling. In Steele's essay The Spectator's Club, a pub gathering is used to point out the quirks of the fictitious Sir Robert deCoverly and his friends. Roger de Coverly is an absolute character. His failurein an amorous pursuit have left him in the past, which is shown through hismanner of dress, along with his somewhat dubious honor of justice of the quorum. This position entails such trying duties as explaining Acts to the commoners. Also present is a lawyer who is more versed in 'Aristotle and Cognius' than in'Littleton and Coke'(Norton, 2193), indicative of lawyers more interested insounding learned than being capable of practicing actual law. Near him, awealthy merchant whose concerns lie mainly in the wealth of England and himself, and who views the ocean as his marketplace. Captain Sentry is an old militaryman well practiced in the art of false modesty, a trait he detests in others. Also there is a clergyman who is so frail that he would sooner wait until theLord sees fit to smite him than get on with the business of leading hislife.(Norton, 2192-2195). All of these characters present traits present in allhumans, but their presentation in such a silly and hypocritical context makesthem humorous
In this way, Steele points out the reader's faults in anacceptable fashion. Addison's Sir Roger at Church is a humorous account of Sir Roger deCoverly and the members of his parish. He gives books to his poorly readparishioners, 'will suffer no one to sleep in [church] besides himself' (Norton2196), lengthens the Psalms, and pronounces his Amens repeatedly. At one pointhe stands and warns 'one John Matthews to mind what he is about'(Norton, 2196),and stop tapping his heels lest he disturb the congregation. The irony here, ofcourse, is that Sir Roger has caused an even greater disturbance by standing andcalling attention to this poor man (Norton, 2195-2197). An obvious poke atoverly zealous churchgoers and clergymen, this work makes light of the entiresituation.
By doing so, readers find their own faults in a more humorous medium, rather than being affronted by a scathing attack. The Juvenalian satirist approaches his work in a more serious manner anduses dignified language to attack erroneous thinking or vice. In this wayJuvenalian satire evokes feelings of contempt, shock, and righteous indignationin the mind of the reader. It is this form of satire used by Jonathan Swift in AModest Proposal. The irony is at once very subtle and very simple; Swift'sproposal is not at all modest. In order to ease the economic burden of hiscountrymen, he proposes to eat surplus children in the populace, therebycreating a new food market and reducing overpopulation.
He even suggest to sellthese people by poundage. He uses stern logic to earn the reader's approval evenbefore the reader knows of that which he is approving. This is done by takingthe standpoint of a concerned humanitarian and patriot, when in fact hisproposal is rather ghastly and inhumane. By ignoring the obvious immorality ofhis plan and speaking out of sheer benevolence, Swift makes this absurdproposition all the more outrageous (Norton, 2181-2187). The style he uses isquite serious and troubled, but the humor is easily appreciated in the farfetched jibe directed at those who always seem to have a plan for the commongood and always have a logical explanation to justify their plan.
While causticand bitterly ironic, the selection exhibits a clever, albeit dry and weird, sense of humor. Although satire, whether of the jovial Horatian style or the pitilessJuvenalian, can be affronting, there seems to be no malice in its mischief. Addison and Steele's intentions were only to improve the morals and intellect otheir audience by challenging them to change. Thomas Swift even wrote in his'prehumous' work Verses on the Death of Mr. Swift :'Yet malice was never his aim He lashed the vice but spared the name.. The satire points to no defect But what all morals may correct.. He spared a hump, or crooked noseWhose owners set up not for beaux..'(Abrams, 187)In this verse we can see that the true aim of satire is not to ridicule faultsof which a person is not aware or responsible, but to correct them. Bibliography1) The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Sixth Edition, Volume I;Copyright 1993 W. W.
Norton and Company, pp.2181-21972) A Glossary of Literary Terms, M. H. Abrams; Copyright 1993 Holt, Rhinehart andWinston, Inc., pp. 187-190.
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