What is Parody in Literature? Definition, Examples of Literary Parodies

Parody definition: A parody is a work that imitates another author or style of literary work.

What is a Parody in Literature?

Parodies are imitations of another author, style, or genre of literature for the purpose of creating a humorous effect for the audience. This humor usually takes in the place of a satire and uses over exaggeration to achieve this effect.

Example of Parody

The singer Weird Al Yankovic is famous for his songs that are parodies of hit music. One example of his parodies is the song “Amish in Paradise”. This famous piece of music is imitating the song “Gangsta’s Paradise” by the rapper Coolio. Here is a side by side comparison between the two songs.

Original: “Gangsta’s Paradise”

“As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I take a look at my life and realize there’s nothin’ left

‘Cause I’ve been blasting and laughing so long,

That even my mama thinks that my mind is gone

But I ain’t never crossed a man that didn’t deserve it

Me be treated like a punk you know that’s unheard of”

Parody: “Amish in Paradise”

“As I walk through the valley where I harvest my grain

I take a look at my wife and realize she’s very plain

But that’s just perfect for an Amish like me

You know, I shun fancy things like electricity

At 4:30 in the morning I’m milkin’ cows

Jebediah feeds the chickens and Jacob plows…fool

And I’ve been milkin’ and plowin’ so long that

Even Ezekial thinks that my mind is gone”

Parody vs. Satire

What is the difference between parody and satire? Parodies and satires are both comedic devices used in literature, and parodies often employ the use of satires within them. However, there are inherent differences between the two techniques. Parodies specifically target literature, or styles/genres of writer, or writers as their subjects of exaggerated imitation. On the other hand, satires are making fun of the general humanity. For example, in the “Amish in Paradise” song from above, Yankovic is making a parody of “Gangsta’s Paradise;” however, the song is a satire that is making fun of the Amish way of life.

Example of Satire:

  • John Kennedy Toole’s The Confederacy of Dunces is a fictional work that is an example of a satire.

The Function of Parody in Literature

Parodies allow for writers to make comments regarding other types of writing or authors in a comedic manner. Rather than simply stating their opinions, by making a parody, the author is able to creatively display his opinions.

Examples of Parody in Literature

  • From the men who created the National Lampoon movies, the book Bored of the Rings by Harvard Lampoon is an example of a parody. In this novel, the author composed a story that makes fun of the Lord of the Rings series by J. R. R. Tolkien.
  • Another example of a parody is A Game of Groans by George R. R. Washington. In this parody, the author is mocking the series The Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.

Summary: What are Parodies?

Define parody in literature: Parodies are works that set out to imitate another work, author, or style of literature in an exaggerated manner to create a comedic effect for the audience.

Final Example:

The Scary Movie films are parodies of other scary movies. They over exaggerate the famous scenes from well-known horror movies in order to show the humor in the situations.