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Political Cartoon

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The art of political cartoon demands a lot of skills from the artist. The one who creates them must focus on the artistic qualities of the picture because the most important condition for the political cartoon is the audience’s ability to recognize the depicted person or event as well as assess the ironical message rendered by it. Using few words, these pictures say more than a lengthy book can deliver. The cartoon under analysis cannot be considered fully effective, for its interpretation demands a deep understanding and awareness of the political life in the USA.

The readers are presented with an image embracing only a few details. The cartoon depicts the interior of the office with the open door where the name plate still hangs and reads “Gen. David Petraeus. Intelligence”. The furnishing of the room consists of the table near the wall with a lamp and photo on it, several pictures of different size and a chair. There in the corner sits the main personage of the cartoon. He is dressed in the official uniform and wears a cap with an “Affair” inscription. The general’s posture radiates weariness and unhappiness.

Petraeus had a successful military career prior to the careerwise fatal case he engaged himself in. For 37 years he took part in various campaigns of the U.S. army and for his merit was decorated with four stars. David Petraeus held a position of the head of CIA for more than a year, and then voluntarily resigned after committing adultery. Notably, he cheated on his wife with a journalist, which was a highly imprudent step for the person who presided over the national intelligence service due to the risk of top secret information leakage.

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The cartoonist resorted to one of the topical issues bringing fair amounts of commotion into the American society. Probably, it is the only rationale behind its creation. The picture vividly renders what is left after the personal collapse. The general seems to be spending his last minutes in the office, with practically all furniture already moved out and only the shining name plate reminding of its owner. He is even nostalgically dressed in the uniform using the last chance to wear it. The cap can be assessed as a party joke, only with the exception of the fact that instead of general joy it presents a life-long brand of a wrongdoer. The open door is a silent invitation to the exit. Petraeus sits in the corner like a punished schoolboy, pondering over the results of his actions. The cartoon tries to convey the idea that certain choices cannot be forgiven and before making one a person should seriously consider the outcomes with regard to the current position.

Symbolism can also be found in the cartoon. The inscription on the general’s cap implies that instead of staying loyal to the internal affairs, he picked only one of them: the one that ruined his career. This symbolism is transferred with the help of the pointed multiple-meaning word. Similarly, the name plate on the door refers to the already inexistent position, the general. By such symbols the cartoonist renders the viewpoint that successful career highlights can fall to pieces due to one incident of going astray. The open door hints that this mistake was the last one.

The author of the cartoon tried to deliver his message with maximum clarity; that is why he even resorted to indicating the name of the person depicted on the image. This clear cue, however, does not tell much to people not interested in politics and staying out of touch of current events. It gives reason to conclude that the cartoon on general Petraeus can be appreciated only in the American society, and for foreigners it stays an unclear message. However, at the national level, the picture can be assessed as rather effective and caustic.

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