To Alexander Pope, another great satirist, it is a sacred Weapon in truth’s defense; and it heals with morals what it hurts with wit. We may safely assume that satire is a mixture of laughter and rebuke. Satire implies an accepted norm of behavior, the departure from which calls forth criticism. In all the great satirists like Swift, Pope and Horace, there is always present the fire of indignation which burns away human foibles and vices. Thus satire is but an indignant and veiled protest against evils rampant in social behavior, human nature or institutions.
Satire spreads over all branches of literature. Moldier, Aristotelian and Bernard Shaw are satirists in drama. Lucian, Swift and Cervantes are prose satirists. Perfect and excellent satire implies an artistic restraint and a balance of mind which elevate the subject to the sublime heights. If roughly or coarsely handled, it borders on invective and degenerates into lampoon. The idea folly and roguery should be suggested without calling people fools and rogues. Geniality and laughing irony give to the razor a sharp edge.
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Otherwise it becomes a bludgeon and crudely slaughters the victim instead of slaying him. Satire should be a surgeon’s scalpel but not a butcher’s knife. Formal satire was brought to flower in Augustan Rome, when Horace, Persist and Juvenile castigated human weaknesses and social ills. The neo- classic formula of wit and judgment in right balance is applicable to the art of satire. That is why, satire flourished in the age of Dryden and Pope, who lifted it to the sublime. In the 1 9th Century, naturally satire declined and disappeared, because the dominant notes of the age were romance and imminent.
Satire especially in verse was at its zenith in the France of Louis XIV and the England of Dryden and Pope. With Dryden, satire occupied a merited niche in the temple of English Letters. English verse satire became the most powerful literary instrument with the publication Of “Abyssal and deadliest document in the history of English Literature unequalled in power and unrelenting in purpose. The events dealt in this poem are the events that ushered in the constitutional monarchy and the party system of government in England – Whig and Tories. Satire became a prime factor of propaganda in the realm of politics.
In “Abyssal and Cacciatore” Dryden used the Biblical analogy for describing contemporary events. It was a common practice in the 1 7th Century. In the following lines Dryden describes the evil qualities of Cacciatore as a statesman, and the ambitious ways he followed to rule or ruin the state: “To compass this Triple Bond he broke, The pillars of the public safety shook, And filled Israel for a foreign yoke” (LIE-174-1 76) But as a real off-set there follows the passage praising the upright judge in Cacciatore-?? name deserved no enemy can grudge; The statesman we abhor, but praise the judge.
In Israel’s Courts newer sat an Abetting with more discerning eyes or hands more clean, unbridled, unsought, the wretched redress”. (Al . 186-190) In his ‘Medal’ another poem of vigor and virulence Dryden attacked his political adversaries like Shadowed and Settle, in almost scurrilous terms. The couplets have a sonorous ring and an epigrammatic terseness in them. “Mac Flecking” however is a satire of the personal type. In this poem, Shadowed is enthroned as the monarch of dullness, never “deviating into sense”.
Though t is a personal attack, such dullness is always present in society and to this extent strikes a universal note. Most satirists generally attack either types or else individuals. Pope’s greatest works are satirical concerning the contemporary spirit. His “Rape of the Lock” gives an amusing castigation Of social vices in a mock-heroic spirit. His “Epistles” are supremely satirical from the angle of vision which is a peculiar blend of critical amusement and fascinated interest. Alexander Pope sometimes lost self-control in his castigation of his enemies. His satire often grew bitter and ruthless.
He poured forth his vials of contempt on the poor and contemptible poets of the “Grub Street”. He was fed up with the madness of these poetasters and criticizes them in his “Epistle to Dry Arbitrator – “Fire in each eye, and papers in each hand, They rave, recite and madden round the land”. The nature of their needs is revealed in “Happy to catch me, just at Dinner – time”. His satires showed his personal littleness and meanness sometimes. But throughout his satire flowed the genuine current of sincerity. His fiery indignation gave to his work intensity, one of the qualities of good iterate.
One of the celebrated passages in the “Epistle to Dry. Arbitrator” is the Tactics passage, saturating Addison. Pope disliked Addition’s patronizing attitude and attacked him in the following way-?? “We have, it seems, a great Turk in poetry, who can never bear a brother on the throne; and his mutes too, a set of menders, winkers, and whisperers, whose business is to strangle all other off springs of wit in their birth;” Pope refers to Lord Harvey as Sports and condemns him in these lines “Let Sports tremble -” What? That thing of silk, Sports, that mere white curd f Ass’s Milk ?
Eves’ Tempter thus the Rabbits have express, A cherub’s face, a Reptile all the rest; Beauty that shocks you, parts that none will trust, Wit that can creep and pride that licks the dust”. There is no other caricature in the whole of English Literature as contemptible, loathsome and repugnant as that of Sports. Thus 18th Century verse satire, held Upton ridicule the seamy side of life and the vulnerable aspects of the social fabric. All things taken into account, satire needs an appearance of reality, a thought of sympathy and geniality in order o be powerful and hit the bull’s eye.