The main difference between satire and farce is that satire uses humour, irony and wit to make the audience laugh, whereas farce uses slapstick humour (humour involving clumsy actions and embarrassing events) and bawdy jokes to make the audience laugh.
Both satire and farce are genres of comedy, which can make people laugh. However, satire is seen as a type of high comedy, while farce is seen as low comedy. More importantly, a satirical work has the ability to expose the follies and vices in society while entertaining the audience.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Satire
– Definition, Characteristics, Examples
2. What is Farce
– Definition, Characteristics, Examples
3. What are the Similarities Between Satire and Farce
– Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Satire and Farce
– Comparison of Key Differences
Comedy, Farce, Satire
What is Satire
Satire is a text or performance that uses humour, wit, irony and ridicule to criticize people, concepts, beliefs or opinions in a society. It is important to note that the term satire refers to a style critiquing society as well as the work created by using that style.
Although satire makes the audience laugh, its main aim is to expose and criticize the idiocies and vices in the society. Therefore, a satirical work is able to expose the corruption, weaknesses, abuse as well as the follies and absurdities of people. Furthermore, satire is often created by using irony, wit, understatement, euphemism, and exaggeration.
Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Alexander Pope’s Rape of the Lock and Voltaire’s Candide are some examples of satires.
Furthermore, satire can be classified into three main types, known as Horatian satire, Juvenalian Satire, and Menippean satire. Horatian satire is a form of gentle, humorous, and amusing satire that ridicules the follies and absurdities of people. Juvenalian Satire, on the other hand, is a formal satire which attacks the vice and error in the society with contempt and indignation. Juvenalian Satire is more harsh and abrasive than Horatian satire. Menippean satire satirizes an individual character flaw or a particular personality trait. It is less aggressive than Juvenalian satire but more judgmental than Horatian satire.
What is a Farce?
A farce is a light comedy that entertains the audience through situations that are highly extravagant and exaggerated. It involves the intentional use of physical humour, bawdy jokes, and deliberate absurdity. The characters in a farce are often one-dimensional and engage in buffoonery and horseplay, making the audience laugh. Moreover, the plot of a farce often contains many twists and random events, including cases of mistaken identities and misunderstandings.
Farces are created for both stage and cinema. William Shakespeare’s Comedy of Error and Taming of the Shrew, Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, Joe Orton’s What the Butler Saw and Marc Camoletti’s Boeing-Boeing are some examples of farcical plays. Movies like Home Alone, Hangover, and The Three Stooges are examples of farcical movies.
Similarities Between Satire and Farce
- Satire and farce are two genres of comedy.
- Furthermore, both are able to make the audience laugh.
Difference Between Satire and Farce
Satire is a text or performance that uses humour, wit, irony and ridicule to criticize peoples’ follies and vices, as well as society, to make the audience laugh. Farce, on the other hand, is a light comedy that uses highly exaggerated and funny situations to make the audience laugh.
A satirical work is characterized by humour, wit, irony and exaggeration while a farce is characterized by slapstick humour, horseplay, absurd situations, etc.
The main aim of satire is to expose and criticize people and society, whereas the main aim of a farce is to make the audience laugh.
Type of Comedy
While satire is seen as a type of high comedy, farce is seen as low comedy.
Both satire and farce are genres of comedy. The main difference between satire and farce is that satire uses humour, irony and wit to make the audience laugh, whereas farce uses slapstick humour and bawdy jokes to make the audience laugh. In addition to this, unlike a farce, a satirical work has the ability to expose the follies and vices in the society while entertaining the audience.
1. Edley, Luke, et al. “Understanding Different Types of Satire.” Thanet Writers, 16 May 2017, Available here.
2. “Satire: Definition and Examples.” Literary Terms, 15 Sept. 2017, Available here.
3. “Satire.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 26 Nov. 2019, Available here.