From the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, to modern day, satire has been vital in the lives of comedians, politicians and authors, and society in general. Satire can be a noble art, to stop corruption and make society aware of the world’s problems and issues. On the other hand, satire can be fun and entertaining. The professional life of a politician can end because of good satire, if a comedian is willing to show us the politicians’ flaws in an honest light. Similarly, a negative aspect of society can be put to an end because of effective satire. Satire can touch all of us if done right.
In El Quixote, Cervantes shows Spain that the stories of knighthood and chivalry are ridiculous with the madness of Don Quixote. Don Quixote tries to be a knight, but he can never succeed, attacking innocents and being a danger to himself and others. With satire, Cervantes demonstrates that knighthood is a thing of the past. Don Quixote fails because he doesn’t belong in 17th century Spain, like all other knights. Cervantes’ satire is considered one of the best works of literature, understood and enjoyed by all. The readers of El Quixote recognize the classic theme that Cervantes makes fun of his culture and society.
What is satire? Simply put, to satirize something is to make people aware of a situation, event or trait with the aid of humor, which captures the attention of the people better than the news, politics or lectures. Satire is for the common man, not just for learned scholars. To understand satire is to be aware of your society and its flaws, major and minor. Nowadays, satire is conveyed through comedians. People like Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert, plus websites like The Onion show us that satire is embraced in our time. Stewart and Colbert are political satirists, with jokes about the US government and world events in general. People that don’t watch normal news can still gain an understanding of current events from these shows, since their goal is to make the audience as aware as possible. The other side of satire, The Onion, has more trivial and amusing jokes. The site makes fun of every aspect of our society that most people are able to identify with. El Quixote is more similar to The Onion in that Cervantes makes fun of many different parts of his own society, including class, language, religion and knighthood stories. Both forms of satire have been used for hundreds if not thousands of years. When, in 2014, there are places in the world where you can be arrested for simply speaking your mind, it is important to never underestimate the power satire can have, and never take the weapon of the spoken word for granted.