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CATS CRADLE Essay Research Paper Jonathan Swift

CATS CRADLE Essay, Research Paper Jonathan Swift has suggested that “Satire is a sort of Glass, wherein Beholders do generally discover every body’s Face

CATS CRADLE Essay, Research Paper

Jonathan Swift has suggested that “Satire is a sort of

Glass, wherein Beholders do generally discover every body’s Face

their own; which is the chief reason…that so few are offended

with it.” Richard Garnett suggests that, “Without humour, satire

is invictive; without literary form, [and] it is mere clownish

jeering.” (Encyclopaedia Britannica 14th ed. vol. 20 p. 5).

Whereas Swift’s statement suggests that people are not offended

by satire because readers identify the character’s faults with

their own faults; Garnett suggests that humour is the key element

that does not make satire offensive. With any satire someone is

bound to be offended, but the technique the author uses can

change something offensive into something embarrassing.

Stephen Leacock’s Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich is

a nonthreatening, humorous, and revealing satire of the moral

faults of upper class society. The satire acts as a moral

instrument to expose the effect money can have on religion,

government, and anything within its touch. Writing about such

topics is hard to do without offending people. Leacock’s

technique combines money with humour, and accompanies his moral

message with ironic characters; their exaggerated actions, and a

constant comical tone to prevent readers from being offended.

Leacock’s utopian world is filled with humorous labels that

represent the “Plutonian’s” personalities. “Ourselves Monthly”; a

magazine for the modern self-centered, is a Plutonian favourite.

To fill their idle days, the Plutonian women are in an endless

search for trends in literature and religion. Without the

distractions of club luncheons and trying to achieve the “Higher

Indifference”, the women would have to do something productive.

Readers that identify themselves with the class of people the

Plutonians represent would be embarrassed rather than offended by

Leacock’s satirical portrayal of them.

“The Yahi-Bahi Oriental Society” exaggerates the stupidity

of the Plutonians to a point where the reader laughs at the

character’s misfortunes. The con men give ridiculous prophecies

such as “Many things are yet to happen before others begin.”

(Leacock 87), and eventually take their money and jewelry. The

exaggeration increases the humour while the moral message is

displayed.

The characters of the novel are ironic in the sence that

they percieve themselves as being the pinicle of society, yet

Leacock makes the look like fools. For someone who prides

themself on being an expert on just about everything, Mr.

Lucullus Fyshe’s (as slimmy and cold as his name represents)

perceptions are proven false. Mr. Fyshe makes hypocratic

statments about ruling class tyranny, while barking down the neck

of a poor waiter for serving cold asparagus.

Leacock exposes the whole Plutonian buisness world to be

fools by the their encounter with Mr. Tomlinson. A man who knows

live-stock; not stock market, is percieved as a finacial genius.

When Mr. Tomlinson replies that he does know about an investment,

the Plutonian reaction is:

“He said he didn’t Know!” repeated the listener, in a

tone of amazement and respect. “By Jove! eh? he said

he didn’t know! The man’s a wizard!”

“And he looked as if he didn’t!” went on Mr. Fyshe.

(Leacock 47)

After Mr. Tomlinson is discovered to be a plain farmer, and his

fortune falls, the Plutorians are seen eating their words:

“Now , ‘I said , for I wanted to test the fellow, `tell

me what that means?’ Would you believe me, he looked

me right in the face in that stupid way of his, and he

said, `I don’t know!’”

“He said he didn’t know!” repeated the listener

contemptuously; “the man is a fool!” (leacock 66)

On Plutoria avenue money makes the man and the fool.

Worth and expense are important for the inhabitants of

Plutoria avenue. Even the birds are “the most expensive kind of

birds” (Leacock 7). The innocents, Mr. Tomlinson and his family,

show that for Plutorians personal worth is based on the amount of

money an individual has. The media builds up Mr. Tomlinson to be

a financial genius, because of his great amount of money and his

mysterious look. His “look” is a confused man caught in a world

of which he has no understanding, but the money makes him the

“Great dominating character of the newest and highest finance.”

(Leacock 36). Mr. Tomlinson’s wife is described by the media as

setting new trends, and shaking the fashion world. She could have

worn a garbage bag in public, and probably received the same

review. Leacock exaggerates the obsession of money to a humorous

point that not even religion is spared.

Religion is a social event and business opportunity for

Plutonians. Rather than spiritual worth, St. Asaph and St. Osoph

churches are humorously described by mortgages, dollars per

square feet, and Bible give away debits. Priests work for the

church that offers them the most money, and has the best social

life. It would not be surprising if the two churches sold

indulgences.

In the real world corruption of the church would be

offensive to allot of people, but when desguised in humour

Leacock shields the readers from personal offence.

Leacock touches on the controvesal topic of updating church

doctrine by creating a humorous misunderstanding between Rev.

Furlong and his father:

“Now we,” he went on, “I mean the Hymnal Supply

Corporation, have an idea for bringing out an entirely new

Bible.” /

“A new Bible!” he gasped.

“Precisely!” said his father, “a new Bible! This one -

and we find it every day in our business – is all

wrong.”

“All wrong!” said the rector with horror on his face. /

“For the market of to-day this Bible” – and he poised

it again on his hand, as to test its weight, “is too

heavy. The people of to-day want something lighter,

something easier to get hold of.” (Leacock 149).

The humorous exchange is not offensive, yet maintains its moral

undertone.

Satire’s primary use is to expose. If no one was offended

or embarrassed by it then the work and the humour is an end in

itself. Leacock’s technique creates a

Garnett, Richard. Encyclopedia Brtannica, 14th ed. Chicago:

Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 1959.

Leacock, Stephen. Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich.

Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Limited, 1989.

Works consulted

Allen and Stephens. Satire, Theory and Practice. ed. Allen and

Stephens. Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing

Company,Inc., 1962.

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