Essay on Sex and Defence as Modes of Discourse

Essay on Sex and Defence as Modes of Discourse

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According to Paul Simpson, author of, ‘On the Discourse of Satire: Towards a Stylistic Model of Satirical Humour,’ the successful projection of satire must accomplish “simultaneously a number of humorous functions” (p. 4). In the introduction to his argument, Simpson states that satire as discourse should be understood “as a level of language organization that supersedes that of the sentence and as a type of meaning potential that arises out of the interaction between text and context” (p.1). The juxtaposition that Simpson describes here between text and context, indicates how satire as a literary tool relies heavily on both interpretation and topicality; whereby, satirical references must entertain current, local and relatable interests of its’ audience, so that the significance of what is being said is not lost. Simpson’s argument is constructed around what is called the ‘model of humour’ (Ziv 1988: 225; see also Ziv 1984), which describes five functions as being the key elements of humour: the sexual, the defensive, the aggressive, the social and the intellectual function. There are three, however, deemed by Simpson as being, “most directly relevant to satirical discourse:” (p.3) the aggressive, the social, and the intellectual. By extracting from Ziv’s model of humour only three of the five elements— overlooking the sexual and defensive functions in satirical discourse—Simpson’s overall argument that “satire is multi-functional in character” is weakened. By examining the works of classic satirists Sheridan, Pope, and Swift, who readily engage with the sexual and defensive functions of satirical discourse, it becomes apparent that Simpson overlooks the strengths of the sexual and defensive functions. The works of these authors ...

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... her heart. /Amazed, confused, he found his power expired, /Resigned to fate, and with a sigh retired.
Though both Sheridan and Pope engage the three functions Simpson argues as being the most relevant to satirical discourse—the social, the aggressive, and the intellectual— the sexual function can easily be determined as the dominant mode of discourse.

Works Cited

“On the Discourse of Satire: Towards a Stylistic Model of Satirical Humour.” Simpson, Paul. John Benjamins Publishing Company, November, 2003. Web. 24 Feb. 2011.

“Juvenalian satire.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Briannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2011. Web. 24 Feb. 2011.

“The Norton Anthology of English Literature”. Eighth eidition. W.W. Norton & Company Ltd., Castle House, 75/76 Wells Street, London. 2006.

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