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Examples of Parody in Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Parody is a satirical imitation of an artistic work which is used for comic effect. When the literature or musical piece that is being parodied is serious, the parody is more amusing.

Parody in Monty Python and the Holy Grail

There are many examples of parody throughout Monty Python and the Holy Grail. In fact, the whole movie itself is a parody.
Overall, the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail parodies King Arthur and his knights’ quest to find the Holy Grail. Any aspect of society during that time in history is subject to parody, but the movie centers on the knights, morality, chivalry, and the wheel of fortune.

  • In medieval times, the perfect man was strong, an expert warrior, and skilled at horsemanship. In the movie, King Arthur and his knights often ran away from a fight.
  • A knight’s character was characterized by bravery, humility, loyalty, and manners.  In the movie, Sir Galahad the Chaste is seduced by women and has to be pulled away from them by the other knights.
  • Sometimes in medieval times, carcasses of animals were catapulted into the enemy’s territory to spread disease.  In the movie, the French catapulted a cow that was alive and a big rabbit made of wood.

Wheel of Fortune

One of the beliefs in medieval times was a belief that God could change your life at any time. This was called the “wheel of fortune” and in the movie, the wheel was sometimes favorable and sometimes it was not.
An example comes from the Bridge of Death scene.

  • In order to cross, the knights had to answer questions.
  • One of them did not know an answer and fell to his death.

Parody and Satire

Monty Python is considered both parody and satire.
A parody imitates another work to make fun of it or to ridicule it. Synonyms include caricature, travesty, skit, satire, farce, and spoof.

  • Parodies are not done to be serious; instead they are for laughs.
  • The original work is not damaged by the parody, but is just used for comedy. An example of parody is the work of Weird Al, where he changes words around in famous songs for amusement.

A satire attempts to make a point when it imitates another work.

  • It uses humor to influence people’s opinions or to try and change something.
  • Satire is usually funny or at least clever; but, its main objective is to criticize something or someone.
  • Satire may criticize the attitudes of people or an industry in general. An example of political satire would be the works of Stephen Colbert, where the intent is to point out certain things that are wrong or need to be changed.

Thus, while both parody and satire imitate and/or make fun or another work, like a play, piece of literature, movie, or song, there are some differences. Both of them are humorous; but, the main difference is the intent of the imitation. A parody is done for fun and entertainment whereas a satire may be entertaining, but makes a point.


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