Determining The Satirical Nature

Determining The Satirical Nature

Stock Characters

Opening

Share your homework with two classmates.

  • What stock characters did you create? How true to life are they?

Meeting Jane

Work Time

Jane Austen was highly schooled in observing and writing about the stereotypes of her polite society. Her plots, driven by humor and romantic tension, typically centered on the search for true love reconciled with a healthy economic match. In Emma , the heroine zealously attempts to form love matches among her friends and acquaintances. Ironically, Emma claims that her personal preference is to remain single forever. In the excerpt, the characters begin to play a parlor game in which each must contribute “one thing very clever … or two things moderately clever—or three things very dull indeed.” At the game’s inception, Emma cannot resist the fleeting temptation to play the “mean girl” and is later chastised for it by the man she secretly loves.

Read the excerpt from Jane Austen’s highly accomplished novel Emma , and consider the following questions.

  • What societal “types” does the author seem to be dealing with?
  • How does language and dialogue enhance this portrayal?
  • How does the author balance humor and avoid complete mockery or cruelty?
  • Why is this important?

America's Comic Genius

Work Time

Mark Twain was a master at observing human nature and poking fun at it. He often did so by satirizing authority figures or typical personalities reflecting the quaintness of small-town life. In the excerpt from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer , the adolescent protagonist Tom meets his friend, Huck Finn, in the graveyard to bury a cat and partake in a superstitious cure for warts.

Read the excerpt from Mark Twain’s highly prized novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer , and consider the following questions.

  • What societal “types” does the author seem to be dealing with?
  • How does language and dialogue enhance this portrayal?
  • How does the author balance humor and avoid complete mockery or cruelty?
  • Why is this important?

The Master of the Epigram

Work Time

Oscar Wilde, a playwright and humorist of the Victorian era, courted laughter from the very society he both mocked and fully participated in. Wilde playfully exposed the excesses and pettiness of the upper class, although it was never without affection. From his works emerge stereotypes of his era, affording readers a peek into life in a set class. In the excerpt, the audience becomes acquainted with the personalities and activities of some of the play’s main characters.

Read the excerpt from Oscar Wilde’s highly regarded play The Importance of Being Earnest , and consider the following questions.

  • What societal “types” does the author seem to be dealing with?
  • How does language and dialogue enhance this portrayal?
  • How does the author balance humor and avoid complete mockery or cruelty?
  • Why is this important?

Wit, Satire, and Stereotypes

Work Time

Consider the three works you have just examined and the prior work you have done with film and television. Tackle the following questions for synthesis.

  • What is the difference between wit and satire? Can you give examples?
  • What happens if a writer crosses the line of humor and gets mean? What are some possible outcomes of this?
  • Are stereotypes fair? Explain.
  • What do stereotypes do more frequently: expose a truth or challenge a truth?

Open Notebook

Discuss your responses with your classmates.

Stock Character Cartoon

Work Time

It’s your turn now. You have read about and watched varied uses of stereotypes in modern television and film. You have also studied the use of stereotypes in traditional literature and considered how the authors toed the line between good-natured humor and outright mockery. You are now ready to consider the culture in which you participate every day and begin planning your own cartoons of a high school stock character.

  • Work with a partner to brainstorm ideas for a stock character in high school.

If you have time, you can agree on a stock character and begin creating a cartoon of the character. You will have about 15 minutes during the next lesson to work on your cartoon.

It’s your choice whether you’d like to make the character more than a caricature. The key, as with all satires, is to make your subject recognizable and familiar through your use of concrete details.

Guiding Questions

Closing

Respond to the unit’s Guiding Questions.

  • What is satire, and when is it too harsh?
  • How can humor and irony make you more persuasive?
  • What do you think is funny? How far would you go to satirize it?
  • Who gets more reaction—satirists or protesters?

Open Notebook

Stock Character Cartoon

Homework

Work on your cartoon of a stock character from high school.

  • Agree on a stock character with your partner if you have not already done so.
  • Begin creating a cartoon of the character.

You will have about 15 minutes during the next lesson to work on your cartoon.