Guide to political cartoonsPresentation Transcript
Very likely document for Section 1 in 2012
Techniques of the cartoonists
Strengths as evidence
Weaknesses as evidence
Symbolism (symbols – where one thing stands for another – India represented by an elephant, anything can be represented by a human figure)
Exaggeration (exaggerate the violence, the deceit et cetera)
Stereotyping (a simplified representation of something)
Caricature( a representation of a person that exaggerates certain characteristics)
Humour (belittle, make it look ridiculous or ugly by poking fun at it)
Simplification (simplify the issues to make your point – makes the message more forceful) Cartoonists don’t worry about explanations or accuracy
Use of text to clarify
Symbolism – each figure in this cartoon represents something Also the weapons, boots and uniform represent force / violence It is an exaggeration and a simplification to show Ireland and India crawl before Britain. It is a simplification of the issues. This makes it very effective as a message, but unreliable as evidence The cartoonist is biased. He clearly sympathies with India and Ireland. The figure representing Britain is portrayed in a negative light . Its hostile to Britain Zoomorphism – making a figure animalistic shows hostility. Britain is represented as dog or pig-like
Representations of Gandhi The Tiger represents India, a common symbol for India, (along with the elephant) These are not necessarily negative symbols, because these animals are associated with India
Gandhi is represented as:
saintly but unrealistic
Well-intentioned and idealistic
Unleashing forces he cannot control – the ferocious Indians
Representations of Gandhi
When you are asked
How the text clarifies
the meaning, look
Carefully at the cartoon
If you took away the
words, would it make
sense? Probably not,
The cartoonist includes
Text to clarify his message
The words underneath as called the caption Never forget, this is not Gandhi speaking. It is the cartoonist’s representation of Gandhi. He is putting words in Gandhi’s mouth
often caricature Indian
Take nothing at face value. The fire is not fire: it represents the violence and destruction of India after partition. The storm clouds represent trouble ahead. The building is not a building. It is India or Indian government. Gandhi’s statue – how sad it looks – this is all a betrayal of Gandhi’s great dream of peace and unity Here we have use of colour , which is very effective. Colour affects us subconsciously in a very powerful way We associate red with danger and violence. We associate black with death and despair
Provenance means where does the source come from.
It is very important to remember where political cartoons come from.
They appear in newspapers at the time of the events that they represent. They are produced quickly. They are not the result of research as history books are.
The cartoonist does not believe in remaining objective and fair as the historian does
They are meant to appeal to the public its aimed at and so may reflect the views of the type of people who read that particular paper.
Does the cartoon come from a British newspaper? An Indian one? A Pakistani one? Or other?
It will reflect the biases of the newspaper it is published in.
This is very important when it come to blame which is an issue with the British Withdrawal from India case study.
Questions on Political Cartoons
What is the message of the cartoon?
How does the text clarify (make clear) the meaning the cartoonist intends?
Is the cartoon a fair representation of....?
Which figure (in the cartoon) does the cartoonist sympathize with? is hostile to?
Does the cartoon present a persuasive argument...?
Do you consider it to be a biased source...?
Which is more informative the cartoon or the other source? (go through the sources before you. List the facts – chances are the written source will contain more facts)
Which would have more appeal with the public . The cartoon or the other source?
Which is more effective the cartoon or the other source?
Which is more fair and balanced , the cartoon or the other source? (reliable)
Effective? Appeal ?
The word effective means it achieves its purpose (It does what the cartoonist set out to do which is persuade you to his point of view)
Cartoons are persuasive. Exaggeration, simplification, caricature, colour, humour... these are all used to persuade people to a point of view.
Propagandists like visual sources for this reason.
Making Gandhi / Jinnah or Nehru look funny is an attack on them. Humour is very effective. People enjoy it. Remember though, it belittles the victim.
Another thing that adds to their appeal is that visual messages are instant and people trust their eyes and are not as critical of what they see than what they read or hear. We forget the cartoon may be unfair. It’s just a point of view.
In short, they are effective but not reliable....
If you are comparing to a history book or newspaper article, the cartoon is usually more effective at persuading the audience (when answering this question, mention exaggeration, humour.... etc)
The purpose of a history book or newspaper article is to inform (not persuade)
The cartoon will be less informative. Less factual. It probably won’t look at both sides of the argument.
It will therefore usually be more biased.
If you are comparing the cartoon to a speech by Nehru, Jinnah etc., remember you are comparing two persuasive sources: Its up to you to decide which is more persuasive
Speech vs. Cartoon
If you are comparing the cartoon to a speech (by Nehru, Jinnah etc.) remember these aretwo persuasive sources
It’s up to you to decide which is more persuasive /which would have more appeal with the public
People would probably be aware that a politician is trying to persuade them. People probably are more naïve about cartoons.
Talk about how instant the cartoon is; how he simplifies to make his point effective; how he exaggerates; how he belittles one figure and is hostile to him etc.
The speech also has persuasive techniques which you need to be aware of (appeal to the emotions, repetition, selective choice of facts)
Weigh up each before you conclude. Don’t be too quick to conclude. You will earn lots of marks weighing up both sources.
Tips for dealing with cartoonists
Go through your past papers and look at all the questions on political cartoons
Start with the assumption that you are dealing with very effective (persuasive) sources, but not reliable ones
Take nothing at face value. The cartoon is a representation. It is a point of view.
Very often biased. Not dealing in facts. Not informative: persuasive
On a simple level, if one figure is made to look ugly, fat, mean .... the cartoonist is hostile to that character.