Definition of Lampoon

Lampoon is a form of virulent satire in verse or prose, which is sometimes malicious or unjust attack on a person, an institute or an activity. Simply, when a writer or an artist makes fun of someone or something by imitating the same thing in a funny way, it is called lampooning.

It is a more subtle and broader form of satire, which intends to ridicule in clear terms, while satire uses comedy to ridicule vices, follies, fashions or pretentions. In fact, both terms are same. However, the first one is specific, while the second one is general.

Examples of Lampoon in Music

Money, get away.
Get a good job with good pay and you’re okay.
Money, it’s a gas.
Money, so they say
Is the root of all evil today.
But if you ask for a raise it’s no surprise that they’re
giving none away…

(“Money” by Pink Floyd)

Pink Floyd has elaborated lampoon satirical musical album “The Dark Side of the Moon” with political and social commentary. In this song, the satire of greed for money is emphasized. Money is sardonic and biting, there reason that there is no way to think about other things.

Examples of Lampoon in Literature

Example #1

A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift

In A Modest Proposal, Swift’s satirizes the idea of eating infants, selling to wealthy people so that the poor could live easily without getting involve into prostitution. Swifts makes fun of the fact that despite such grave problems, society has not done anything practically to solve it. Therefore, pompous modest proposal about producing a market for babies, makes the whole scenario ridiculous. In fact, Swift shows his concern for the bad state of affairs happening in Ireland. In simple words, selling and consuming babies to wealthy people is completely immodest that lays emphasis on a satirical device lampoon, which is here directed against an insensitive society.

Example #2

“Mac Flecknoe” by John Dryden

John Dryden wrote a famous lampoon “Mac Flecknoe”, which triggered a devastating attack on Thomas Shadwell, a Whig playwright. Dryden ridiculed Shadwell’s abilities as a critic and literary artist in a way that his literary reputation suffered a lot ever since. The basis of his satire represented Shadwell as a dunce, which is a difference of opinion between Dryden and Shadwell over the quality and value of Ben Johnson’s wit. Shadwell does not see Elizabethan playwright critically, while Dryden sees Johnson lacking this quality.

Example #3

“Thou cur, half French, half English breed,
Thou mongrel of Parnassus.”

(“A Collection of Miscellany Poems, Letters, &c” by Mr. Brown)

Satirical writings of Brown are notable for crudeness rather than for wit. He was pertinacious in worrying his adversaries. He would never stop his quarrel and launch attacks again and again. He had published the above mentioned lines in his satirical and humorous verses in “A Collection of Miscellany Poems, Letters, & c” in which he made a bitter attack against his arch foe, Tom Durfey.

Example #4

Pretty soon I wanted to smoke, and asked the widow to let me. But she wouldn’t… Here she was a-bothering about Moses, which was no kin to her, and no use to anybody, being gone, you see, yet finding a power of fault with me for doing a thing that had some good in it. And she took snuff, too; of course that was all right, because she done it herself.

(Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain)

Twain lampoons on the idea of civilized society that Huck finds himself thrust into. In this example, the characters of Miss Watson and Widow Douglas prove themselves moral and religious hypocrites, as Widow would allow Huck to smoke, however she consumes tobacco herself.

Function of Lampoon

The purpose of using lampoon is to emphasize absurdities and follies of a person or situation in a humorous way. Satire, as a parody, plays the role of pointing out the object or person as ludicrous and serves to change the opinion of the people about it. It may take various forms from written words to jokes, drawings, television sketches or entire production and shows. In literature, it can be a short poem, letter or full novel. Lampoon is used extensively in the two most recognizable and famous satirical mediums, film and television. From advertising and news to discussion programs and from politics to dramas, it is everywhere. Also, it is common in music, video games and internet using satirical cartoons, etc.

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