Satire: A work that uses ridicule, humor, and wit to criticize and provoke change in human nature and institutions. An attack on or criticism of any stupidity or vice in the form of scathing humor, or a critique of what the author sees as dangerous religious, political, moral, or social standards. Satire became an especially popular technique used during the Enlightenment, in which it was believed that an artist could correct folly by using art as a mirror to reflect society. When people viewed the satire and saw their faults magnified in a distorted reflection, they could see how ridiculous their behavior was and then correct that tendency in themselves.

Neoclassicism: In literary criticism, this term refers to the revival of the attitudes and styles of expression of classical literature. It is generally used to describe a period in European history beginning in the late seventeenth century and lasting until about 1800. In its purest form, Neoclassicism marked a return to order, proportion, restraint, logic, accuracy, and decorum. In England, where Neoclassicism perhaps was most popular, it reflected the influence of seventeenth-century French writers, especially dramatists. Neoclassical writers typically reacted against the intensity and enthusiasm of the Renaissance period. They wrote works that appealed to the intellect, using elevated language and classical literary forms such as satire and the ode. Neoclassical works were often governed by the classical goal of instruction.

A satirical imitation or burlesque of the heroic manner or style. In contrast with an epic, a mock epic is a long, heroicomical poem that merely imitates features of the classical epic. The poet often takes an elevated style of language, but incongruously applies that language to mundane or ridiculous objects and situations. The mock epic focuses frequently on the exploits of an antihero whose activities illustrate the stupidity of the class or group he represents. Various other attributes common to the classical epic, such as the invocation of the muse or the intervention of the gods, or the long catalogs of characters, appear in the mock epic as well, only to be spoofed. For instance, Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock gives in hyperbolic language a lengthy account of how a 17th century lord cuts a lady's hair in order to steal a lock of it as a keepsake, leading to all sorts of social backlash when the woman is unhappy with her new hairdo.


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