Parody – Concept, origin, types, characteristics and examples

We explain what a parody is, its origin and the characteristics of each type. Also, examples of parodies throughout history.

parody the great dictator chaplin
The parody can take up all kinds of speeches with an ironic or humorous tone.

What is a parody?

It is called a parody a type of satire or burlesque imitation of an artistic work, or any other form of speech, in which irony and exaggeration are often used for humorous purposes. This word comes from the ancient Greek (paroideia), specifically voices for (“Against” or “next to”) and ode (“singing”).

The parody exists in absolutely all artistic and discursive genres. It is a practice whose history dates back to a certain type of song in Greek antiquity, the purpose of which was to make fun of the content or the forms of the epic or tragic poems of the great authors.

This tradition was incorporated by the Romans and later assimilated in the different western artistic traditions, in which it is part of the most transgressive and irreverent genres.

Roughly speaking, parody can be classified into three different types, depending on what they are scoffing at:

  • Parody of artistic works, like the literary parody, which humorously and ironic imitates other artistic works, exaggerating its forms and caricaturing its contents. This type of parody occurs in all artistic genres.
  • Parody of historical figures, in which the character in question is copied by exaggerating his physical features, his general behavior or his methods of thought, to achieve a comical and often transgressive effect.
  • Ideas parody, which takes a certain topic and enacts it in a mocking or ironic way, or takes it to an extreme point to emphasize its weaknesses or possible consequences.

On the other hand, there are two ways of exercising parody: from the bottom up or from the top down. In the first case, you take a “low” or vulgar issue, and raise it in a lofty or refined way. While in the second, the procedure is the reverse: a “high” issue is taken and raised in a vulgar way.

Examples of parody

parody examples Don Quixote of La Mancha
Works like “Don Quixote” today are more important than the novels they parodied.

Examples of parodic artistic works are:

  • Don Quijote of La Mancha, a novel by Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) that parodies medieval knighthood novels.
  • Gulliver’s Travels, satirical novel by Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) that makes fun of the travel accounts of the literature of the time.
  • A musical jokeBurlesque musical composition by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), in which he mocks many of his contemporaries.
  • The great Dictator, a film by Charles Chaplin (1889-1977) that makes fun of Adolf Hitler and the aesthetics and rhetoric of German fascism.