Swift's "A Modest Proposal"


. . .first ask the parents of these mortals whether they would not at this
day think it a great happiness to have been sold for food at a year old in
the manner I prescribe, and thereby have avoided such a perpetual scene of
misfortunes as they have since gone through by the oppression of landlords,
the impossibility of paying rent without money or trade, the want of common
sustenance, with neither house nor clothes to cover them from the
inclemencies of weather, and the most inevitable prospect of entailing the
like or greater miseries upon their breed for ever(Swift 388).

The Ireland of 1720 was not a pretty place. It was a place where
the pain of life was so great that it ...

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the world? In answering
this question, Swift discovered a series of social vices and injustices
that perpetuated the painful poverty of the Irish peasantry, and due to his
resulting anger felt that it was his God-given job to do something about
them. "'What I do is owing to perfect rage and resentment, and the
mortifying sight of slavery, folly, and baseness around me, among which I
am forced t o live'" (Keach et al 372). Thus, Jonathan Swift's career as a
political satirist and social reformer truly began. Throughout his career,
Swift wrote political pamphlet after political pamphlet, discussing the
issues and methods of improving the lives of the Irish and the Anglo-Irish.
In this multitude of pamphlets, Swift often condemned the Irish peasantry
for their unwillingness to change their limiting beliefs and rise up and
out of the filth that they had wallowed in for so many years. However, he
also recognized that England's mercantilist economic controls of Ireland
and her ...

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in the style of Juvenalian satire that leaves Swift's
past proposals as the only sane solutions to the horrifying Irish situatio
n.
But what is this irony, this situational irony that gives "A Modest
Proposal" its energy, its flare? It is the comparison between the worst
and the worse than worst. Swift first shows the reader a "melancholy
object"(Swift 383) , the never-ending poverty of the Irish: with its
beggars crowding the streets, with its kids so narrow-minded in their
choice for occupation that they only become either thieves, traitors of
Ireland, or slaves in the Caribbean, with its women who are so wretchedly
poor that they must abort their babies due to the ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 10/26/2007 09:31:26 AM
Category: English
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 2436
Pages: 9

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