Comparing Satire in Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis and The Simpsons

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The Power of Satire in Babbitt and The Simpsons

Sinclair Lewis used his writing to promote the enrichment of American society by attacking the weaknesses he perceived in his era. His most notable work, Babbitt, is a satire on the middle class lifestyle and attitude of the 1920s. Lewis' satirical style and voice is comparable to the modern television series The Simpsons, written by Matt Groening. Babbitt and The Simpsons contain numerous similarities in satirical writing, presentation and commentary. Matt Groening satirizes many modern situations with his style and characterization in The Simpsons that are similar to the conditions in Babbitt. The Simpsons represent the pinnacle of how Lewis' opinions are still alive in today's world.

Lewis uses both the effects of direct and indirect satire. Lewis is a realistic satirist who, like many others, can "...utilize their vast firsthand knowledge of the material they describe and their sensitive ear for dialogue to support the illusion of reality" (Feinburg 61). Lewis' firsthand knowledge is seen through the use of the minister Mike Monday in Babbitt, which is a satirical poke at the minister Billie Sunday of his time which would be unknown to him unless he knew the current events of his era. Lewis first presents an obviously dead end idea through a foolish character, then has it refuted by an outside voice of reason, only to have the original character praise and defend the idea until he likely fails or realizes his blunder (Feinburg 92). This type of interaction can be seen in Babbitt through a conversation between George and Myra. Babbitt begins by defending his new found liberalism and denouncing the Good Citizens Leagu...

... middle of paper ... the greatest ongoing modern satire of our time" (Whitbourn and Kim 1). The two shall never be forgotten as their sayings, "Oh by gee, by gosh, by jingo," and "D'oh!" will continue to ring out of America's middle class forever (Lewis 13).

Works Cited

Carlisle, Henry C., ed. American Satire in Prose and Verse. New York: Random House, 1962.

Feinburg, Leonard. Introduction to Satire. Ames, Iowa: The Iowa State University Press, 1967.

Groening, Matt. The Simpsons A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family. Ed. Ray Richmond. New York: HarperPerrenial, 1997.

Kim, James, and Cade Whitbourn. The Simpsons. "Matt Groening." 1998. School of Media and Communication. 23 Nov 2002. <>.

Lewis, Sinclair. Babbitt. 1922. New York: Signet Classic, 1998.

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