e Rich Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich EssaysStephen Leacock’s Arcadian Adventures with the Idle RichJonathan Swift has suggested that “Satire is a sort ofGlass, wherein Beholders do generally discover every body’s Facetheir own; which is the chief reason. . . that so few are offendedwith it. ” Richard Garnett suggests that, “Without humour, satireis invictive; without literary form, and it is mere clownishjeering. ” (Encyclopaedia Britannica 14th ed.
vol. 20 p. 5). Whereas Swift’s statement suggests that people are not offendedby satire because readers identify the character’s faults withtheir own faults; Garnett suggests that humour is the key elementthat does not make satire offensive.
With any satire someone isbound to be offended, but the technique the author uses canchange something offensive into something embarrassing. Stephen Leacock’s Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich isa nonthreatening, humorous, and revealing satire of the moralfaults of upper class society. The satire acts as a moralinstrument to expose the effect money can have on religion,government, and anything within its touch. Writing about suchtopics is hard to do without offending people. Leacock’stechnique combines money with humour, and accompanies his moralmessage with ironic characters; their exaggerated actions, and aconstant comical tone to prevent readers from being offended.Order now
Leacock’s utopian world is filled with humorous labels thatrepresent the “Plutonian’s” personalities. “Ourselves Monthly”; amagazine for the modern self-centered, is a Plutonian favourite. To fill their idle days, the Plutonian women are in an endlesssearch for trends in literature and religion. Without thedistractions of club luncheons and trying to achieve the “HigherIndifference”, the women would have to do something productive. Readers that identify themselves with the class of people thePlutonians represent would be embarrassed rather than offended byLeacock’s satirical portrayal of them. “The Yahi-Bahi Oriental Society” exaggerates the stupidityof the Plutonians to a point where the reader laughs at thecharacter’s misfortunes.
The con men give ridiculous propheciessuch as “Many things are yet to happen before others begin. “(Leacock 87), and eventually take their money and jewelry. Theexaggeration increases the humour while the moral message isdisplayed. The characters of the novel are ironic in the sence thatthey percieve themselves as being the pinicle of society, yetLeacock makes the look like fools.
For someone who pridesthemself on being an expert on just about everything, Mr. Lucullus Fyshe’s (as slimmy and cold as his name represents)perceptions are proven false. Mr. Fyshe makes hypocraticstatments about ruling class tyranny, while barking down the neckof a poor waiter for serving cold asparagus. Leacock exposes the whole Plutonian buisness world to befools by the their encounter with Mr. Tomlinson.
A man who knowslive-stock; not stock market, is percieved as a finacial genius. When Mr. Tomlinson replies that he does know about an investment,the Plutonian reaction is:”He said he didn’t Know!” repeated the listener, in a tone of amazement and respect. “By Jove! eh? he said he didn’t know! The man’s a wizard!””And he looked as if he didn’t!” went on Mr. Fyshe. (Leacock 47)After Mr.
Tomlinson is discovered to be a plain farmer, and hisfortune falls, the Plutorians are seen eating their words:”Now , ‘I said , for I wanted to test the fellow, `tellme what that means?’ Would you believe me, he looked me right in the face in that stupid way of his, and hesaid, `I don’t know!'””He said he didn’t know!” repeated the listener contemptuously; “the man is a fool!” (leacock 66)On Plutoria avenue money makes the man and the fool. Worth and expense are important for the inhabitants ofPlutoria avenue. Even the birds are “the most expensive kind ofbirds” (Leacock 7). The innocents, Mr. Tomlinson and his family,show that for Plutorians personal worth is based on the amount ofmoney an individual has.
The media builds up Mr. Tomlinson to bea financial genius, because of his great amount of money and hismysterious look. His “look” is a confused man caught in a worldof which he has no understanding, but the money makes him the”Great dominating character of the newest and highest finance. “(Leacock 36). Mr. Tomlinson’s wife is described by the media assetting new trends, and shaking the fashion world.
She could haveworn a garbage bag in public, and probably received the samereview. Leacock exaggerates the obsession of money to a humorouspoint that not even religion is spared. Religion is a social event and business opportunity forPlutonians. Rather than spiritual worth, St.
Asaph and St. Osophchurches are humorously described by mortgages, dollars persquare feet, and Bible give away debits. Priests work for thechurch that offers them the most money, and has the best sociallife. It would not be surprising if the two churches soldindulgences. In the real world corruption of the church would beoffensive to allot of people, but when desguised in humourLeacock shields the readers from personal offence. Leacock touches on the controvesal topic of updating churchdoctrine by creating a humorous misunderstanding between Rev.
Furlong and his father:”Now we,” he went on, “I mean the Hymnal Supply Corporation, have an idea for bringing out an entirely newBible. ” /”A new Bible!” he gasped. “Precisely!” said his father, “a new Bible! This one -and we find it every day in our business – is all wrong. “”All wrong!” said the rector with horror on his face. /”For the market of to-day this Bible” – and he poised it again on his hand, as to test its weight, “is too heavy.
The people of to-day want something lighter, something easier to get hold of. ” (Leacock 149). The humorous exchange is not offensive, yet maintains its moralundertone. Satire’s primary use is to expose.
If no one was offendedor embarrassed by it then the work and the humour is an end initself. Leacock’s technique creates a Works citedGarnett, Richard. Encyclopedia Brtannica, 14th ed. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. , 1959.
Leacock, Stephen. Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Limited, 1989. Works consultedAllen and Stephens.
Satire, Theory and Practice. ed. Allen and Stephens. Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Company,Inc., 1962.