Essay on The Birds

This essay has a total of 1166 words and 5 pages.

The Birds


Satire defined is 'A composition in verse or prose holding up a vice or folly to ridicule
or lampooning individuals… The use of ridicule, irony, sarcasm, etc, in speech or
writing for the ostensible purpose of exposing and discourage vice or folly'; (Johnston,
5). In other words, satire is the use of humor to expose moral behavior of man. In the
Aristophanes' play The Birds, satire is used to mock the common Greek's dream of ruling
the gods that they worship. It mocks the power that they seek to become the supreme ruler
of the world. To understand Aristophanes use of satire, one must first understand the role
satire plays in sending out its message.

At the basis of satire is a sense of moral outrage. This outrage is wrong and needs to be
exposed. The goal of a satire is to correct this misconduct of man in a humorous way that
makes the audience relate to the problem and try to correct it. Satire 'seeks to use
laughter, not just to remind us of our common often ridiculous humanity, but rather to
expose those moral excesses, those correctable sorts of behavior which transgress what the
writer sees as the limits of acceptable moral behavior'; (Johnston, 5). In exposing these
foibles, one could discover not to behave in such a manner by realizing his or her
mistakes.

When setting up a satire, one must do so in a few steps. The first step is setting up a
target which will symbolize the conduct that the satirist wishes to attack. In The Birds,
the target is the average Athenian citizen, seeking power Pisthetaerus or in Greek
translation, 'companion persuader'; (Luce, 300). Pisthetaerus is upset with his current
living conditions and sets out to seek a new place, far better than his existing
residence.

Adding exaggeration and distortion to the target, the satirist then emphasizes the
characteristic he wishes to attack. 'The target must be close enough to the real thing for
us to recognize what is going on, but sufficiently distorted to be funny, an exaggeration,
often a grotesque departure from normality'; (Johnston, 17). After deciding to create a
city strategically located between heaven and earth, so the birds can rule god and man,
Pisthetaerus eats a magical root that has the powers to give birth to wings. Although it
is evident that humans growing wings is not imaginably possible, the birth of wings does
give birth to the power that Pisthetaerus craves more of. This power he craves helps him
achieve more of his goal to escape his current conditions to one that submits to no higher
deity.

When the target is distorted in an appropriate way, 'the satire proceeds by an unrelenting
attack. Here the satirist has a variety of weapons, ranging from rude direct insults and a
lot of robust physical humor (pratfalls, misunderstandings, mock fights) to more complex
assaults parodying various forms of language and belief'; (Johnston, 8). When Pisthetaerus
'offers himself as the leader who can restore the avine power and prestige that men have
usurped'; (Luce, 300) and the chorus of birds accept. 'Stand forth. Instruct us what to
Continues for 3 more pages >>




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