|Abstract||Because satiric literature is written in all of the various recognized literary forms critics generally have turned to descriptions of satire that concentrate on the satiric tone or spirit. This spirit, however, is generated by the predominant structure of satire, which is a form that is analogous to the satirist's habit of mind or mode of thought. Satire is grounded in the author's habit of seeing one thing in terms of another, but the kind of comparative vision that the satirist has does not provide him with a sense of harmony but with an awareness of incongruity. To re-create his vision, the satirist uses linguistic and rhetorical structures that syntactically and semantically present and represent incongruity, and these structures are essentially oxymoronic. In their most common forms, rhetorical figures are diminutions of broader and more general perspectives, as students of metaphor and irony have shown; when the process of reduction is reversed so that "oxymoron" is given the full range allowed by the mode of thought or habit of mind that stands behind the term, oxymoron appears not only as a union of two words but as the informing principle of a brief passage or of the complete structure of a literary work. When two words are oxymoronically linked, each term establishes its own semantic scope and that of the opposite term through the tension created by the union. When opposite ideas, objects, characters, or sets of values are juxtaposed in larger manifestations of the oxymoronic mode, each half is defined positively (in its own terms) and negatively (through the presence of its opposite): the presence of the good makes evil more apparent and more reprehensible, and the presence of evil makes the good more apparent and more admirable. When the incongruent elements are united, the juxtaposition generates judgments condemning one and favoring the other; thus, the oxymoronic habit of mind that links the opposites creates a synthesis--although not, strictly speaking, a dialectical synthesis in the sense that a third entity emerges from the union. Instead, this special kind of synthesis is a perspective that is larger than either half and includes both of them. This mode of thought avoids the limitations of a diminished perspective that presents only either one of the incongruent elements; in the oxymoronic union, each half defines itself and its opposite, enabling the person who exercises oxymoronic thought to know more completely the true nature of each.