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What can we learn from a political cartoon?
When trying to find out about experiences of
people living in the past, images such as
etchings, sketches, cartoons, photographs and
paintings from time to time can be very
useful. They are primary sources and have
limitations, but they are also important
sources of attitudes, fears, values and
Persuasive techniques used in cartoons
Depiction of physical characters
How does this position the audience?
- Depicts the character as foolish
- Demeans power and authority
- Take the characters less seriously
- Doubt their power and authority
Strengthens argument at hand
Takes a simple or well-know object and creates them to
stand as a larger concept or idea
Illuminates the foolishness of the ideas surrounding
Often cartoonists lable specific elements
Signifies their importance
Identifies what the cartoonist wants the audience to
Includes names of people, places, objects
Can include speech bubbles and desrciptions
Comparison between two things that are not alike
Complex issue that can be related to a more familiar
concept and the ideas that are related to that concept
Helps the audience understand what values the
cartoonist may be trying to depict
The difference between the way things are and the way
things are supposed to be or are expected to be
Positions the readers to see the way that things
actually are, despite what they’re expected to think or
how they’re expected to react
Where is the source from and who created it? Is it a cartoon or painting from a
newspaper, a sketch from a book, a painting from a gallery or a photograph on a
What was happening at the time the document was created? This is a description
of the important people, values, policies and events at that time.
What are the parts of the document such as the caption, symbols or language used
to get the main ideas across to the reader?
What is the meaning of the document? What does the author want to say to the
Why was the document created? This could be used to
reinforce ideas from the time, convince people, promote
political ideas or describe an experience.
Point of View
What were the attitudes and beliefs of the person who
created the document? This is the perspective of the author,
which can be biased towards or against a person or idea.
Can the source be trusted as truthful? Who was the author?
What was the purpose of the document? Is it biased? What
are its limitations? What gaps exist? Has the document
been censored, falsified or exaggerated?
Using the worksheet provided, analyse the cartoons
The table provided in the worksheet will help you to
analyse historical documents, both primary and
secondary sources, to decide whether the sources are
useful in providing information for your period of
What does the horse represent?
Why is the
What is meant by the
Why is Lloyd-George
holding a shovel?
Why is a
‘Perhaps it would gee-up better if we let it touch earth.’