Burlesque and its Varieties

 Burlesque and its Varieties


In the wide world of literature, there is always something that is left unexplored by one and all. You may think that you know all and still there might be something left.

 That is how complex the world of literature is and thus this world sometimes makes the students go for assignment help in various topics of the subject. One of these topics is burlesque. In the simplest of terms burlesque refers to an act of imitation.

 Literally defining the term burlesque refers to an incongruous invitation that is, the form and style and the subject matter of a serious literary work are copied and produced in such a way that there arises a disparity among the two. These pieces of work are written to reflect the bitter satire and sometimes just for the sheer fun of it.

 The comic element lies in the twisting and turning of the subject matter and manner of writing so as to produce an incongruous effect. A simpler term for the same, parody is what you might have heard more often. Travesty, parody, and burlesque are sometimes used interchangeably yet it is to remember that they have differences.

 As a matter of fact, the other two are the varieties of burlesque, as stated and proven by several research paper writings on the subject. While we are writing a burlesque, this style and the form of the subject that is being imitated may be high or low level and dignity than the original subject.

 If the above two terns are high and represented in the dignified manner while the subject is a trivial one, then we call it high burlesque. On the contrary, when the subject if of high status and has more dignity than its imitated form and style, then it is called low burlesque.

 Burlesque may also be differentiated keeping in mind the fact whether it imitates the particular work of the author or any particular literary genre. Using these two distinctions, we get a wide variety of burlesque that must be understood for effective assignment help:

  • High burlesque has two types – parody and mock-epic. A parody is the invitation of a serious piece of literary work wherein the manner, the characteristic features, the distinctive style of author and other such features of serious piece of work are imitated. In this way the invitation is applied to a comparatively inappropriate subject as well as a low one.

 A perfect example of this type of work can be the work The Splendid Shilling by John Phillips. In this work, the writer has parodied the epic style of John Milton that he used in Paradise Lost. 


The parody has been created by using exaggeration of the formal and high style of writing of Milton. Phillips has applied this feature while describing a tattered poet whose writing his work in a drafty attic. Similarly, Samuel Richardson’s Pamela was parodied by Henry Fielding in his Joseph Andrews. The parody has been done by replacing Richardson’s beleaguered heroine by a hearty male hero.


 Austen who’s considered to be a serious writer, satirizing the society she is living in too used parody while poking a good-natured fun at the style of Gothic novel in her Northanger Abbey. The early 19th century saw a sky rise in this form of burlesque writing where parody became favorite of all. A. S. Byatt, in his novel Possession has parodied the Victorian poetry and forms of prose and other academic scholarly writings as well as research paper writings. 


Mock epic or a mock-heroic poem is another type of parody wherein all features of epic are put into piece of work, yet parody comes into play when fun is evoked into a serious literary genre of epic. In case of epics, there always is a hero who has to face difficulties in his life and overcome them in order to come to a settle place but in case of a mock epic, all these features of epic are applied to trivial subjects. Masterpiece in this form of writing was The Rape of The Lock by Alexander Pope. The man defines the quarrels between the belles and elegants of his day over the theft of something as trivial as a lady’s Lock of Hair.


 All the devices of epic such as a voyage, the application of supernatural machinery, a heroic battle and the conversation in such ways that something of national importance is being talked about, have been applied to this piece of work by Pope. One would find all elements of epic in poem except the subject matter upon which the fight is being done and that is what gives the mock-heroic touch to the poem. There were other pieces of writings too that used this form to talk about a lowly subject for example, as done in Ode on the Death of a favorite Cat by Thomas Gray.

  • The low burlesque includes the Hudibrastic poems as well as Travesty. The former takes its name from the poem Hudibras by Samuel Butler, wherein he satirizes the Puritan era by describing the adventures of Sir Hudibras who was a Puritan Knight. In contrast to the dignified style and experiences, the hero goes to mundane and humiliating misadventures. Travesty is used to mock particular piece of work by lowering of the reputation of the subject matter of the original work and representing it in an undignified manner. A popular example of this category can be the film Young Frankenstein which is a travesty of Mary Shelley’s famous novel Frankenstein. 

Lampoon is another form of burlesque which represents a short satirical world that takes in hand the task of describing a character in such a way so as to ridicule him. It basically employs the technique of caricature to produce the comic effect. John Dryden’s Absalom and Achitophel, is the perfect example in this category. 

Thus these were a few points and features of a burlesque and its varieties.


Post a Comment (0)
Previous Post Next Post