In every literary work, readers get to experience a particular feel. The manner by which it is written determines the message that the literature conveys. It is through the writer’s style that readers put meaning to the work. Furthermore, every work has a particular theme which it attempts to create and set throughout the whole work.
There are several themes that literary works of art get to explore. Some combine elements of several themes while in others, there are shifts in themes within the story. Three of the most commonly explored themes in literature are humor, satire, and irony. In most cases, elements from each of these themes are utilized to produce some of the most interesting and highly enjoyable stories and poems. The said themes are also very popular for dramas.A satire is a literary mode or theme that writers use to ridicule or criticize someone or something. Usually, satires are used to express the writer’s opinion or point of view on some issues in society. An example of the satire is the poem “AD” by Kenneth Fearing.
In the said poem, Fearing satirizes the concept of war. He describes the war through the use of a job advertisement that one normally finds in the classified ads of a newspaper. The lines, “Wanted: Men; Millions of men wanted at once in a big new field,” (Fearing, 689) seemingly describes a wonderful job opportunity for men.
However, what Fearing is really suggesting is that men should not join the war. He is suggesting that men should not answer the “advertisement” of war for it is nothing really great. It only puts the lives of thousands of men at risk.
Fearing’s poem also includes elements of irony. Irony is a literary theme in which the writer uses words or phrases that is the complete opposite of what he really is trying to say. Basically, the writer writes the reverse of what he really intends to say. In “Ad,” Fearing wrote, “Take a permanent job in the coming profession.” (689) What the author writes of permanence but in reality, he is suggesting that joining the war is nothing permanent.
It is temporary and anyone who joins may end up with their lives cut short.Another literary theme in Fearing’s poem is humor. The way Fearing characterizes the men who would join war is full of humor. This is best seen in the lines, “If you’ve ever figured in the chamber of horrors; If you’ve ever escaped from a psychiatric ward,” (Fearing, 689) is a funny depiction of those who would take up on the job offer of joining the war. The theme of humor is meant to invoke laughter among readers. It is aimed at entertaining the readers and making them enjoy the literature.
Fearing’s poem arouses the interest of readers by playing with humorous words to deliver an important message about a significant and critical issue in society, war.There are many others that are part of the readings that contain a combination of the themes that just been defined. Just as poems can creatively combine humor, satire, and irony, prose can also contain the very same elements. For instance, in Atwood’s short story, “There was Once,” the author is able to invoke laughter and smiles from readers. The conversation between the two characters in the story is funny for it seems like they are bickering or arguing about senseless or insignificant things. In the exchange: “There was once a girl who was a little overweight and who’s front teeth stuck out, who- I don’t think it’s nice to make fun of people’s appearances. Plus, you’re encouraging anorexia,” (Atwood, 464) the characters debate on how to depict the girl in the story one of them is writing. Their exchange is funny for it seems like the lines people would here in sitcoms on television.
However, Atwood’s poem is not simply meant to entertain. It delivers a strong message regarding a critical issue in society, stereotypes. In this way, “There was Once” is also a satire. In each attempt of one of the characters to describe the girl he is writing about, he actually writes about a stereotype in society. At the same time, the story tackles the concept of discrimination. The line, “You know. Black, white, red, brown, yellow. Those are the choices.
And I’m telling you right now, I’ve had enough of white,” (Atwood, 465) is a clear criticism of white supremacy and oppression of other races.Another example of how literary devices are combined in one work is Shakespeare’s sonnet, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun.” In this sonnet, Shakespeare uses irony and humor to elaborate on love. Shakespeare wrote, “If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun; if hairs be wires, black wires grown on her head.” (Shakespeare, 755) These lines sound funny and ironical at the same time.
The author was able to use simple words to describe the woman’s features in a funny manner. At the same time, if one reads deeper, the author’s use of contrasting depictions actually only point to the beauty of the woman being described. It is in this light that irony as a literary device was used in the poem. Basically, Shakespeare used irony to say that his mistress has black hair and wonderful complexion.Just as some literary works can combine different literary devices, some can opt to focus or use only one. In “Seinfeld,” (David, 1021) the main purpose of the drama is to entertain people. It is meant to make people laugh.
Basically, the drama solely utilizes humor for no other reason but to make people laugh.Another important literary element is parody. Parody is the use of humor and satire in an attempt to imitate someone’s work. Usually, the works imitated in parodies are more serious. The satirical imitation is sometimes meant to criticize the original work while in other cases, it is meant to honor the original author by showing that the said author’s work has become a significant part of culture. An example of a parody is X.
J Kennedy’s poem, “A visit from St. Sigmund.” In the said poem, Kennedy talks about two important icons, Santa Claus and Sigmund Freud. Basically, Kennedy uses the depiction and typical characterization of Santa Claus and puts Freud and his ideas in its place. Kennedy wrote, “As I heard thunderclaps-lo and behold- Came a little psychiatrist eighty years old. He drove a wheeled couch pulled by five fat psychoses.” (771) In the said lines, the author describes Freud in the way that Santa Claus is described.
His work is not meant to ridicule either Santa Claus or Sigmund Freud. In fact, it was a way to show the significance and influence that both icons have on the prevailing culture today.Literary devices are the key to any prose or poem. It is through the use of these devices that writers are able to further explore the issues or subject matters that they write about. As it has been shown, literary devices can be used singularly or in combination with others.
These devices allow writers to bring out the creativity that they so inherently possess.Works CitedAtwood, Margaret. “There was once.” In The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Michael Meyer, Ed. 2008. 8th ed. New York: Bedford/St.
Martin’s. pp. 464-466.
Fearing, Kenneth. “Ad.” In The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Michael Meyer, Ed. 2008. 8th ed.
New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s. pp. 689-690.Kennedy, X.
J. “A Visit from St. Sigmund.
” In The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Michael Meyer, Ed. 2008.
8th ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s. pp. 771-772.
Shakespeare, William. “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun.” In The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Michael Meyer, Ed. 2008.
8th ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s. pp. 755.