Satire In The Happy Marriage

1753 Words8 Pages
Humour as a powerful tool to change things: the status of women in yesterday’s and today’s satire.

Since Aristophanes’ comedies, satire has been aiming at criticizing the injustices of the authorities as well as the moral wrongness of society. By the wise use of wit and humour, satire castigat ridendo mores, a Latin phrase coined by the 17th century French scholar Jean de Santeul. The meaning of the sentence is that one can change customs of society s/he is living in by laughing at them. In other words, the best way of changing things is to point out their absurdity and satirise them.
According to Brilli (1967), Paulson (1967) and Hodgart (1969), satire’s main aim is to reveal reality for what it really is and to show the evil that operates
…show more content…
In the picture, the sharp contrast between the figure of the mother, who appears almost petrified in her dress, and the little girl on the right, who plays naively with a cat, is highlighted. The aesthetic canons of that time forced women to put on a bust, or corset, that was particularly harmful and unhealthy. Anyway, as Thorstein Veblen, economist and sociologist of the 19th century, brutally says: “the corset is employed only within certain fairly well defined social strata, so women who wear it are rewarded with an increase in their market value” (Quoted by Bernard Rudofsky in Il Corpo Incompiuto, Mondadori, 1971,…show more content…
The artist declares that “the subjects of those prints are calculated to reform some reigning vices peculiar to the lower class of people” (Bindman, 1981, p.178). The apocalyptic scene reminds of the Final Judgement or a Hell on Earth, where all the sinners and the gin addicted are portrayed together. Above houses collapsing, hanged people, corpses and brutalization, the statue of George II stands still but disregarded. The woman in the foreground does not notice that her son falls out of her arms, contravening the classic figure of the mother, who should protect and care about her own child. This allegorical image draws inspiration from a fact that really happened: a child’s death caused by his drunk mother. In this way, the published and spread engraving not only aims at a moral warn, but also at supporting the Gin Act, a law that came into force in 1757 and whose purpose was to reduce alcohol consumption, a real social evil spread among the working classes. Satire therefore turned from moral criticism into political
Open Document