Social Studies 5: How to Analyze a Political Cartoon
Not every cartoon is meant to entertain small children while their mother gets some "Mommy time." There are also political cartoons, which are meant to entertain adults while their children get some "Kid time."
|5th Grade||Social Studies|
|Elementary and Middle School||5th Grade|
But that doesn’t mean you can’t get into them, too, especially if you learn how to
understand and analyze them.
Who knows? You might end up liking them more than Spongebob.
So let’s get to analyzing!
Check out this Official Shmoop-Made and Shmoop-Themed Political Cartoon. [Example of Shmoop-made cartoon]
Now we'll admit that this political cartoon is already more interesting to look at than
So analyzing this one should be fun, right?
…We promise, you can keep watching Spongebob once we're done analyzing. [Man and woman analyzing cartoon]
So the first step is to begin with the visuals. Let’s list the people and objects we can
In this case, we see David Siminoff, the Founder of Shmoop. We also see some sort of machine [David and a shmoop machine]
with the Shmoop logo on it, a bunch of books, and some kids eating apples from the machine.
Got it? Good. The next step is to look for symbolism. Symbolism
is when an object or symbol represents, or stands for a larger idea. Cartoonists use [Definition of symbolism]
symbolism all the time to get across their ideas.
So what might be some symbolism here?
Well, we can see that the machine is turning those books into apples. And because the machine [Arrow points to apples]
has a Shmoop logo on it, maybe the machine is supposed to symbolize Shmoop as a whole.
Once you've nailed down some of the symbols, it's time to take a close look at any captions,
words, phrases, or dates present. So what seems to be most significant?
A good place to start would be the labels on the books and the apples. On the left,
the books are all labeled things like “boring” and “confusing,” while the apples are [Books with labels]
labeled with the word “knowledge.”
It seems like the Shmoop-machine is turning boring and confusing things into knowledge
that those kids can consume.
Now we're getting somewhere. So what does it all mean? We're…not sure [Family driving a car]
Time to describe and analyze.
It seems like the cartoon is showing how Shmoop turns curriculum that can sometimes seem boring,
tedious, and confusing, and turns it into delicious bits of knowledge.
And David Siminoff? He represents all of the hard-working Shmoop employees helping to make [Shmoop employees dancing in a meeting room]
that happen. But you’re not off the hook just yet. Now
we have to ask ourselves: what seems to be the cartoonist’s opinion on the issue?
In this case, we can look at what David is saying and see that the artist clearly likes
what Shmoop is doing, by implying every student should get an apple. [Student holding an apple]
And hey, that position makes sense…considering Shmoop produced this cartoon…
But now you know how to analyze political cartoons, so is this cartoon really all that
We said, "is it really all that…" oh. You're watching other cartoons. That's fine…we'll
just…be over here…munching on apples… [Man sits down and eats an apple]