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Satire in Dorothy Parker's Literary Work

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Satire in Dorothy Parker's Literary Work

Dorothy Parker was born in 1893 and died in 1967. She is known for using a mixture of humor, satire, and sarcasm in her poems. Satire is a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule of scorn. Three poems in which she uses humor, satire, and sarcasm are "Résumé", "Comment", and "One Perfect Rose".
In the poem "Comment" she uses an example of sarcasm. Sarcasm is harsh or bitter derision or irony. This poem is about how life is sweet bliss. The sarcasm displayed in the poem is the reference to Maria of Romania and the quote "And I am Maria of Romania". Maria of Romania was a lady who had a horrible life; her life wasn't sweet bliss as described in this poem. The point showed in this poem is described by this quote, "Dorothy Parker was famous for her wit and sarcasm".
In her poem titled "Résumé" she uses a mix of satire and humor. Humor is a sudden, unpredictable, or unreasoning inclination. This poem is about many ways of committing suicide, it tells you that u can uses razors, guns, acids and other things but they all hurt you in some way. The humor and satire is displayed from this line from the poem, "You might as well live". This line is basically saying suicide is painful so just live. "Dorothy caustically shows her disapproval by use of sarcasm and satire."
In the poem "One Perfect Rose" she tells how her boyfriend sent her one rose ever since she met him but she wants something better. The lines "Why is it no one ever sent me yet one" and "One perfect limousine, do you suppose?" shows how she wants more than just a rose. These lines show her use of humor in the poem. "The senses of adventure and fun combine with a practical turn of mind to produce works that make fun of the stated or implicit ideals". This quote shows how she used the element in the poem.
In conclusion, Dorothy Parker uses different elements in her poems to get her point across.

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"Satire in Dorothy Parker's Literary Work." 10 Mar 2018

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Dorothy Parker         Literary Work         Satire         Use Of Humor         Other Things         Sarcasm         Romania         Vices        

Some of the elements she uses are humor, satire, and sarcasm. She used these elements in different ways not the ways we use them in our writings. Her three poems "Résumé", "Comment", and "One Perfect Rose" are very good examples that display how she uses the elements of humor, satire, and sarcasm.


Harmon, William, American Light Verse, New York: Oxford Press, 1979

Kaufman, George, Humor, New York: McGraw Hill, 1989

Parker, Dorothy, Comment

Parker, Dorothy, One Perfect Rose

Parker, Dorothy, Résumé

Parker, Dorothy, The Way Into Thought, New York: Prentice Hall INC, 1990

Webster's Dictionary, Springfield, Massachusetts, 1998

“Good Souls” Questions:

1. Throughout a majority of her piece, Dorothy Parker uses powerful language and devices to tell the audience how negatively they must feel about people that are Good Souls, not to convey personal opinions. For instance, in the beginning of the essay Parker utilizes juxtaposition to show that Good Souls cannot even be classified as human beings and must be looked at differently, as isolated “creatures”. She says that all people live in this “civilized world,” yet Good Souls are trapped behind an “impassible barrier.” Similarly, Parker tells the audience that these inhuman beings have a “condition” that inherently separates them from a normal person and turns them into “congenial pariahs,” or outcasts. Another example comes later in the piece, when Parker uses harsh diction to explain who can be considered a Good Soul. She claims that Good Souls can be seen as “an elderly aunt, an unmarried sister, an unsuccessful brother, an indigent cousin.” All of these categories of people are generally frowned upon in society because they become burdens, constantly annoying others around them because they are so dependent upon their loved ones. Lastly, Parker uses a sarcastic tone for a large portion of her essay to make Good Souls’ altruistic acts seem like horrific wrongdoings. For example, she claims that Good Souls are those who “smooth out your pillow when you have just worked it into the comfortable shape, who creak about the room on noisy tiptoe, who tenderly lay on your fevered brow damp cloths which drip ceaselessly down your neck.” In general, fixing someone’s pillow so they can relax, walking on toes so they can sleep, or laying wet cloths to cure illness are wonderful and generous things to do. But not the way Parker describes these scenarios; each one makes the Good Soul seem like a nag who makes bad situations even worse. Clearly, Parker uses her stylistic writing to demand that readers look at Good Souls in a negative light for a majority of her essay.

2. The paragraph full of questions is very significant because it displays a drastically different tone to the reader and foreshadows Parker’s true purpose of the piece, which is finally revealed in the last couple of paragraphs. For most her essay, Parker demands that the reader dislike Good Souls for their annoyance and burdensome nature, but not in this particular paragraph. In this section, Parker uses a sympathetic tone and makes the audience feel so badly for the unfortunate, young Good Soul. For instance, she continually asks the audience if they can see the little boy that all the other children harass. The poor boy has “cherished candy” stolen, “precious toys” destroyed, and “bags of water” tossed at him. These depressing scenarios relate directly to the conclusion of the essay, during which Parker ties in the theme. In this section, she explains that Good Souls accept the maltreatment of others with a smile and for doing so they will receive a “reward in heaven.” This shows that, even though other made their life very difficult, they will have a better life in the next world because they were so different and good-natured.

“The Sexes” Questions:

1. The dialogue clearly shifts the sense of power from the young man to the girl throughout the story. In the beginning of the piece, the man held all of the power because he would constantly yell rude comments at his partner and she would give a weak, apologetic response. For instance, he said, “Will you for God’s sake stop thanking me?” and “You’ve been acting funny all evening… Hardly said a word to me, ever since I came in.” Even though these statements are clearly very inconsiderate, the seemingly-fragile girl responded by apologizing for saying “thank you” so many times and said that she was “so very sorry” that her partner was bored at her house. However, shortly afterward, the audience realizes that the girl is really manipulating the young man and the power of the conversation reverses. Soon the man is the weak one because he starts apologizing for everything he’s done and flattering the girl. For instance, he says, “Honest, honey, I didn’t mean it” and “You’ve got a beautiful nose…And beautiful eyes.” Also, the girl’s control is evident when she insinuates that the man is attracted to Florence Learning and he gives a defensive reply- “I wouldn’t know her if I saw her again. Why I was talking to her was you wouldn’t even give me a tumble, last night.”

2. The dialogue conveys the emotions of the characters very clearly; it is obvious that the young man is temperamental, confused, and guilty, while the girl is jealous and upset. The young man displays a poor temper when he has frequent outbursts in the beginning of the piece. For instance, he said “You were so snotty” and “I did not swear at you!” Also, he shows confusion when he says, “I didn’t mean that” several times and when he exclaims, “I can’t get right.” Lastly, the young man appears to have a very guilty consciousness due to his actions the previous night. This is evident when he nervously says he was “stuck” talking to “what’s-her-name,” when in reality he was happily talking to Florence Learning, a woman who he obviously knows the name of, for a majority of the night. He tries to make the conversation seem like something terrible, that he was forced into, because he feels bad for being unfaithful to his partner. Similarly, the girl noticeably displays jealousy when she says, “I notice you couldn’t even talk to anybody else.” Additionally, she continually mentions how “pretty” some people believe Florence Learner is, in an attempt to make her partner admit to finding her attractive. Lastly, the girl is upset when she talks about how happy her partner was talking to Florence and how she “wouldn’t have butted in for anything.”

3. The dialogue shows that this couples’ relationship is fickle, unstable, and unpleasant. First off, it is fickle because the young man shows attraction to another woman for an entire night. Also, the woman completely changes her mood when being complimented by her partner for her “beautiful” features. Secondly, this relationship is unstable because the couple never actually discusses their issue. Instead, the man relies upon yelling with swears, such as “My God!” and the girl uses manipulation to voice her feelings of being upset. Lastly, this relationship is unpleasant because the only time (over the course of the entire conversation) that these two get along and agree with one another is when they are talking behind someone’s back. For instance, the girl says that Florence Learning has “an awfully funny nose,” and the young man concurs by stating that she has “a terrible nose.”

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