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Thread: Looking for a Satire in which a sane person is portrayed as evil and mad.

  1. #1
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    Feb 2010

    Question Looking for a Satire in which a sane person is portrayed as evil and mad.

    I'm doing a paper in defense of W.H.Auden's view on satire.

    His theory is:
    1)The comic butt of satire is a person who, through in possession of moral faculties, transgresses the moral law beyond the normal call of temptation.
    2) The two common satirical devices are presenting the object (person) as if he were mad (unaware of nature of act) and that they be demonic (completely conscious of evil action.)

    He also states: "Satire flourishes in a homogeneous society with a common conception of the moral law, for satirist and audience must agree as to how normal people can be expected to behave, and in times of relative stability and contentment, for satire cannot deal with serious evil and suffering."

    --Does anyone have any suggestions for a well-known satire that would conform to these principles?

  2. #2
    unidentified hit record blp's Avatar
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    Apr 2005
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    Tennessee Williams' Suddenly Last Summer is about a young woman who's family are treating her as insane and trying to get her to have a lobotomy in order to keep her from relating a traumatic experience that would harm them financially. It's not exactly a satire, but does have a certain dark humour about it at times.

    Can't remember much about it, but Joe Orton's last play, What the Butler Saw, is set in a mental institution and may well be relevant. Orton could definitely be described as a satirist.

    John Cassavetes' film A Woman Under the Influence is about a mother who has been institutionalised for mental illness in the past and is now trying to live normally with her family. She's definitely different, but the argument of the film seems to be that the real problems come from the way she is treated rather than her own behavior. Again, not a satire, but it is a pretty wonderful movie. Gena Rowlands, the star, also plays someone acting pretty crazy in Cassavetes' Opening Night, which is even better and, again, the audiences' sympathies are definitely supposed to be with her.

    I have a feeling there must be more, but that's all that comes to mind for now. You might also like to look up RD Laing's The Divided Self, which I've just read, in which he suggests that madness may be a strategy for dealing with what Gregory Bateson describes as 'the double bind' a position someone finds themselves in, usually with regard to their family, where no action can work, but inaction cannot work either. Laing is effectively suggesting that madness is not as mad as we usually think, i.e. not as random and meaningless, not a total loss of sense, but a strategy of communication in a situation in which communication feels impossible.

  3. #3
    Registered User keilj's Avatar
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    Feb 2010
    Mark Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson

  4. #4
    pessimist more or less Veva's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    where madness is just the lack of pragmatism
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    I think that these 2 could do....
    Dostoyevskij - The Idiot
    Plath - The Bell Jar
    Stop asking where is God and keep asking where the hell is human!

  5. #5
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    Apr 2006
    Good Old Albion
    I'm not sure if I understand exactly what you're looking for but would Catch 22 by Joseph Heller be along the right lines?
    If you'd like to talk about Blake I promise I'll keep checking this thread.

  6. #6
    Pièce de Résistance Scheherazade's Avatar
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    One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, maybe?
    "It is not that I am mad; it is only that my head is different from yours.”

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