Effective Persuasion

Satire, sarcasm, and irony are effective strategies that many authors of classic literature have used to persuade others. For example, I taught my students that one of Mark Twain’s intentions for writing “Huckleberry Finn” was to teach people exactly why they should NOT be prejudiced! So many people misunderstand the book, thinking that it is racist and derogatory toward African Americans.

In fact, the opposite is true.

If Twain had merely preached against prejudice and discrimination, his audience would not have listened at all; they would have argued and would never have been convinced.

Instead, Twain brilliantly used satire, sarcasm, and irony, showing—SHOWING—his readers how wrong such behavior is by introducing them to fallible but admirable characters who exhibited all of the traits which warrant not only tolerance but also respect, dignity, and even emulation (Jim is the true hero of the book, I taught my students).

Lesson: To knock them over with a hard truth they are initially inclined to dismiss or reject, present it to them in a package they are willing to hold and look at for a little while.

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