British Literature

Literary Analysis Satire Political Commentary Don Juan George Gordon



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Writers use satire in as a tool to expose faults in society and utilize humor as a mirror through which the world can look at itself. Instead of taking social norms and vices as seriously as many critics take them, satirists view the ideals of the world as sometimes ludicrous or not always as it seems. They wish to turn the world upside down and make people questions their preconceived ideas about the way the world works. The poem "Don Juan" deviates from Lord Byron's usually romantic poetic works and takes a satiric look at politics. In this poem, Byron illustrates the effectiveness of satire as a literary device.

Many writers believe that they should use their talents as a way to voice their opinions of the political climate that exists in the world around them. They feel that art is a way to bring change and order to a chaotic world. In "Don Juan," Byron satirizes individuals who carry such high ideals of their writing. Particularly, he mocks Poet Laureate, Robert Southey and the other Lake Poets for their politics, pretensions and poetry. He says, "You're a poet - Poet-laureate, And representative of all the race, Although 't is true that you turn'd out a Tory at Last, - yours has lately been a common case." In this verse, Byron makes light of Southey and his colleagues for their arrogant views that they are the voice of the people, that their words are representative of the thought of all humankind. Thus, the use of satire in this section of his poetry points out the folly thinking of these artists.

Politics is the fertile ground on which satirist plant seeds in the minds of those who view their works. The use of satire as a form of political commentary successfully deposits seeds of doubts in the public's mind or cause them to, in a way, look objectively at politics and politicians. In this poetic work, Byron insults the Foreign Secretary, Castlereagh, calling him an "intellectual eunuch Cold-blooded, smooth-faced, placid miscreant The vulgarest tool that Tyranny could want." By referring to Castlereagh a eunuch, Byron creates doubts about his competency or effectiveness as a leader. Not only does Byron question the Foreign Secretary's abilities as a leader, he questions his intentions as a leader, calling him a troublemaker and a tool of tyranny. Consequently, people who read this literary work may take a closer look at this politician to see if there is a nugget of truth to the words in Byron's poem.

Satire is an effective way to enlighten people about things that may otherwise be taken for granted. It is successful because the humor makes people take a lighter look at serious matters. Additionally, satire makes people think of the ludicrousness of other individual's points of view. So, when others finish absorbing the words of the satirist, they begin to think about the information presented to them. For that reason, Byron's departure from his usual brand of poetry is instrumental the success of "Don Juan."

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