Title

“I Cannot Harm Thee Now”: The Ethic of Satire in Anna Barbauld's Mock-Heroic Poetry

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

9-2015

Abstract

Anna Barbauld's satiric verse has been omitted from studies of satire, including studies of specific satiric modes such as the mock heroic. Drawing upon her knowledge of both scientific ideology and the satiric tradition, Barbauld uses the mock-heroic mode in “A Fragment of an Epic Poem,” “Washing-Day,” and “The Caterpillar” to interrogate the process of satiric differentiation, whereby the satirist distances himself or herself from the satiric object. As she does so, she constructs an ethic of satire that questions the configuration of the mode as a weapon. Barbauld employs the mock-heroic mode not to “wound,” but to emphasize the bonds that connect the “great” and the “small,” the mock-heroic satirist and the satiric object. Meanwhile, she identifies the appropriate object of satire not as those considered weak or inferior, but as those who misuse social and political power. Ultimately, Barbauld's work suggests the significance of women poets’ contributions to satire, which has traditionally been identified as a “masculine” mode.

Publication Title

European Romantic Review

Volume

26

Issue

5

DOI of Published Version

10.1080/10509585.2015.1070348

Publisher

Taylor & Francis