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An English Teacher's Glossary - Parody

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and in some cases it is, but most parodies intend to make fun of whatever they are imitating. In literature a parody is a piece of writing that mocks another piece of writing by imitating it in an exaggerated way. If it treats a frivolous subject with exaggerated solemnity it is called burlesque; if it treats a serious subject with exaggerated frivolity it is called travesty. Here is an example of an unknown writer parodying Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s trochaic poem, ‘The Song of Hiawatha’. First, the section of the poem that is parodied:


He had mittens, Minjekahwun,

Magic mittens made of deerskin;

When upon his hands he wore them

He could smite the rocks asunder,

He could grind them into powder.


Now here is the parody, and you can decide if it’s a burlesque or a travesty:


He killed the noble Mudjokivis.

Of the skin he made him mittens,

Made them with the fur side inside,

Made them with the skin side outside.

He, to get the warm side inside,

Put the inside skin side outside.


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