Essay Satire Modest Proposal

18Th Century Satire: A Modest Proposal Essay

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During the 18th century and the Restoration, a new form of literature became very popular, satire. Satire, according to www.dictionary.com, is the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice or folly. Commonly, satire is used to give one’s opinions or commentary about public issues. As a writer it is important to be well educated on current events, politics and the interests of the general public. Writers, such a Jonathan Swift, have commonly used satire to discuss important issues about the follies of governments, persons and social issues. It has been said that “although it (satire) is usually subtle in nature, it is used to bring light to contemporary societal problems and provoke change…show more content…

By using satire, writers are also able to appeal to a particular readership or viewership. Those who are educated enough to understand what is trying to be said, hopefully, have enough of a role in society to spread the knowledge. John Dryden says it best, “a witty man is tickled while he is hurt in this manner, and a fool feels it not” (2131).
In A Modest Proposal Swift exposes numerous public authorities for their failure to help the poor people of Ireland. He suggests that the use of the children will turn and benefit the country as a response to their greed: “instead of being a charge upon their parents or the parish, or wanting food and raiment for the rest of their lives, they shall on the contrary contribute to the feeding, and partly to the clothing, of many thousands” (2463). A child is the responsibility of the parent; it is the parent that conceives a child. In addressing this issue, he also hopes this it will end voluntary abortions and the murdering of bastard children. In most society’s, including our own, these are very touchy issues that evoke strong opinions and emotions. For a person to publicly announce that such actions are wrong could surely end a career, potentially a life in exile. Through satire, such issues can be discreetly spoken upon.
Swift’s subtle insinuation of the fault of the wealthy Irish landlords financially crippling families could not be bluntly stated. Swift himself was an Irishman. He

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Among many definitions of "satire" the following is the most compelling regarding "A Modest Proposal":

the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

Hence, this is exactly what Swift does. He exposes and criticizes contemporary politics and the way things are carried out in his society. He particularly attacks the cruel abuse and discrimination against Irish...

Among many definitions of "satire" the following is the most compelling regarding "A Modest Proposal":

the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

Hence, this is exactly what Swift does. He exposes and criticizes contemporary politics and the way things are carried out in his society. He particularly attacks the cruel abuse and discrimination against Irish catholics, who are poor, disenfranchised, and still mistreated by English protestants.

Jonathan Swift takes on the voice of an extremely prejudiced English Protestant, and uses the argument of the Irish eating their own children (in order to decrease the amount of Irish Catholics) as an extreme way to exaggerate the usual anti-Irish discourse. This is his way of mocking the people who agree with it:

“For first, as I have already observed, it would greatly lessen the number of papists, with whom we are yearly overrun, being the principal breeders of the nation as well as our dangerous enemies”

Swift also creates satire by using a medium that is commonly used for serious purposes. Think of an open letter, or rather an editorial in an important publication, or even a thesis. These are often conduits of serious topics of discussion, where educated scholars propose meaningful solutions to current issues.

Just imagine taking that same, erudite tone of voice to propose that a group that disturbs the peace of a bunch of abusive, dominant overlords is encouraged to eat their young for purposes of population control. The very idea is unthinkable, and the exaggerated nature of the treatise itself tells that it intends to make mockery of the anti-Irish protestants.

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