The definition of satire is “literary technique of writing or art which principally ridicules its subject (for example, individuals, organizations, or states) often as an intended means of provoking or preventing change.” Satire is more commonly used in comedies, but another popular way in which satire could be used is in a tragic approach; satire is just a way to mock it’s topic, and the way in which it’s described can evoke any emotion, though comedy is a favourite to many as it is universal- everyone can relate to the comedy aspect of things. Satire in comedy uses jokes on stereotypes and people’s perceptions of others to challenge these ideas, they are put into a humorous context, but they are there to rouse feelings of unfairness or wrongful discrimination.
Many of Shakespeare’s plays are satirical, as he wanted to prove a point that although it may be the accepted thing in society at the time, it isn’t always the right thing to do. Examples of these types of plays are: “Romeo and Juliet”, “Measure For Measure” and “Taming of the Shrew.” “Romeo and Juliet” is a tragedy that writes critically of the issues that are around at the time; Romeo and Juliet have done nothing wrong except to fall in love with rival families. The play depicts the morality problems with rivalry and violence that can happen if fights get out of hand and whole families are against each other. After all the tragedy and sadness, the families finally stop fighting amongst themselves, linking in with the traditional sense of satire; mocking its subject to provoke change.
A typical Shakespearean tragedy is different from the modern tragedy that is around today; the definition of modern tragedy is harder to pinpoint because there are many ways in which a story could be classed as a tragedy. Normally, the tragedies are about ordinary, everyday people who face issues and personal battles and embody tragedy into them. Modern tragedies always contain drama to incite emotions of the audiences, so they feel involved and can empathise with the characters. The ending is always very sad and involves death and suffering.
The definition of a Shakespeare tragedy is a lot more precise; they involve a noblemen or powerful character who is seemingly perfect and without flaw, who falls from grace because of their own doing, maybe bringing other characters down with him. The character always has free will and will have the chance to turn back and redeem himself, but his own greed or something that he is in control of will push him forward to his downfall. The tragedies are about “the punishment of tyrants, the turn of fortune’s wheel.” An example of this in a Shakespeare’s play is “King Lear”- Lear gets what is coming to him for being so selfish.
In conclusion, Shakespeare uses satire in his plays to accentuate the troubles of his time with the social and status issues. His tragedies typically include satire to put emphasis on the problems; he writes in a tragic way that will make the audience sad, but he also writes in a way that will evoke thought and hopefully change what is needed.
“Mastering Shakespeare”- Richard Gill
“Satire”- Jane Ogborn and Peter Buckroyd