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Satire in The Fallacy of Success

Satire Examples in The Fallacy of Success:

G. K. Chesterton's "The Fallacy of Success"


"I wish to quote the following exquisite paragraphs..."   (G. K. Chesterton's "The Fallacy of Success")

By directly quoting a passage from one of the works he critiques, Chesterton appeals to both ethos and logos. He makes himself seem more credible by presenting his audience with evidence and he makes his argument seem more rational by critiquing his subject at the level of language. Referring to the quoted paragraphs as “exquisite” is a blatant use of irony; it is clear that Chesterton finds the prose of the “Success” writers unsuccessful, let alone exquisite.

"as Darwin has gloriously demonstrated, THE WEAKEST GO TO THE WALL...."   (G. K. Chesterton's "The Fallacy of Success")

This is an allusion to the work of biologist Charles Darwin, who first postulated and popularized the theory of evolution with his seminal 1859 volume On the Origin of Species. One of Darwin’s core ideas was that of “natural selection,” which Chesterton amusingly rephrases as “‘THE WEAKEST GO TO THE WALL.’” In using the phrase, Chesterton is mocking the text of the success books he seeks to systematically dismiss. The suggestion here is that success books can offer nothing more than broad, inane motivational statements about the nature of competition.

"(sneaked from the sickening Little Englanders and Pro-Boers)..."   (G. K. Chesterton's "The Fallacy of Success")

This aside makes an allusion to the “Little Englanders,” a loosely defined group of English citizens who, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, opposed English imperialism and expansionism. During the Second Boer War (1899–1902), in which England fought against the Dutch Boers in South Africa, the Little Englanders opposed England’s activities. Chesterton uses the Little Englanders as an example of people who are ostensibly working against their own purposes—a mistake for those seeking “Success,” as the books he mimics would have it.

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