Satire is a work or approach that blends a censorious attitude with humor and wit for improving human institutions or humanity. Satirists don’t so much attempt to tear down what they attack but instead seek to inspire the target of their wit to reform themselves. The focus is generally on vice and folly. If a writer simply is abusive, they are engaging in invective. If they are making personal attacks, they are being sarcastic. As a rule, satire spares the individual to do as Joseph Addison, one of the noted 18th century English satirists directs, “to pass over a single foe to charge whole armies.”

Satire generally deals less with the great sinners and criminals of the world and more often with the run of the mill fool, knave, ninny, oaf, fraud and codger. Satire is of two types: direct, usually written in the first person spoken directly to the reader or a character in the satire, or indirect, where the satire is expressed through a narrative and the characters who are the butt of the ridicule are ridiculed by what they themselves say and do. Indirect satire is the more common of the two.