18 Th Century Satire: A Modest Proposal

1402 words - 6 pages

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 within a culture” (Friedman). One of the world’s best known pieces of satire is Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal. This piece of work aimed to expose the flaws regarding poverty in Ireland and the overwhelming and suffocating influence of the British government and Irish land owners. Swift uses satire to explain his “modest proposal”; in other words, he aims to prevent the people of Ireland from viewing children as a burden. In his use of satire, Swift places the blame of the abundant poor Irish population upon the English and the landowners. He also exposes the misuse of Ireland and forced trade, as well as satirizes those who made suggestions to resolve the problem without regard for the human cost involved.
Satire is used "not just to remind us of our common often ridiculous humanity, but rather to expose those moral excesses, those corrigible sorts of behaviour which transgress what the writer sees as the limits of acceptable moral behaviour" (Johnston). Uses of satire, such as Swift’s A Modest Proposal, are developed to not degrade an individual directly, but bring light to a sensitive issue that hopefully will inspire change in society. 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...

Find Another Essay On 18Th Century Satire: A Modest Proposal

Satire, Humor, and Shock Value in Swifts' A Modest Proposal

1765 words - 7 pages Satire, Humor, and Shock Value in Swifts' A Modest Proposal Swift's message to the English government in "A Modest Proposal" deals with the disgusting state of the English-Irish common people. Swift, as the narrator expresses pity for the poor and oppressed, while maintaining his social status far above them. The poor and oppressed that he refers to are Catholics, peasants, and the poor homeless men, women, and children of

Satire and the Deployment of Irony in A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift

2752 words - 11 pages like expedients, till he has at least some glimpse of hope that there will ever be some hearty and sincere attempt to put them into practice. (Swift 57-58) "A Modest Proposal" has been hailed by literary critics as one of Jonathan Swift's greatest satirical works. The essay takes the form of a proposal that sets out to offer a solution to the problems of overpopulation and poverty in 18th century Ireland, albeit a seemingly outrageous one that

Contrast Between Satire in The Rape Of The Lock and A Modest Proposal

1753 words - 7 pages Contrast Between Satire in The Rape Of The Lock and A Modest Proposal        Although Alexander Pope's, "The Rape Of The Lock" and Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" are both witty satires, they differ on their style, intention, and mood. To begin, in "The Rape Of The Lock," Alexander Pope uses Horation satire to invoke a light, whimsical, melancholy mood to illustrate the absurdity of fighting over the cutting of one's hair. In

The Use of Satire in A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift

832 words - 3 pages A Modest Proposal In “A Modest Proposal” several forms of satire are demonstrated throughout the story. Satire is defined as the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose or criticize people’s stupidity or vices. (Google) In "A Modest Proposal" Swift uses parody which is a form of satire. Parody is primarily making fun of something to create a humorous feel for it. In “A Modest Proposal,” Swift uses parody to make fun of the

Satire in the 18th Century and in Modern Times

704 words - 3 pages in both times was focused on society however; with each particular satire it focused on the different problems within it. Bold, ridiculous, unheard of idea were not unknown in 18th century satire. The famous thinking outside the box was truly being done. The juvenalian satire was outrageous, taking Jonathan Swift for example in “The Modest Proposal”; he proposed to eat children to feed the hungry starving people of Ireland. This is such an

The Satire of 18th Century England presented by Lilliput

2485 words - 10 pages which I would like to deal to look at the most important similarities between contemporary English society and Lilliput, was written in 1721-2. The essential purpose of Swift in this voyage is not hard to see. As a satire, Gulliver's Travels is to show the certain shortcomings of the 18th century English society."....his satire is directed never against the individual, but against vices- hypocrisy, cruelty, immorality- of society or of mankind

Concerns Jonathon Swift's use of satire in "A Modest Proposal." Describes how in this story caustic wit becomes the means to critique society to a more receptive and entertained audience

1425 words - 6 pages The use of satire or sustained irony is a rhetorical strategy which an essayist may use to disconcert a blasé reader into questioning areas which seem to reveal a certain degree of "human vice, folly or sheer stupidity." (Webster's II, 981) Whether intended for a scholar such as "Of Cannibals" by Montaigne or intended for the general populace as in "A Modest Proposal" by Jonathon Swift, caustic wit becomes the means to critique society to

A Modest Proposal to Rid Our Country of the Homeless (Satire)

1449 words - 6 pages I am sure that you agree that in our country it would be an offence to provide for someone who intrudes on the many firms that have business in our country. Therefore, tell me this: Why is it acceptable to give money to a person who destroys the public image, sleeps on the property of something that is not theirs, and is not increasing our GDP? To see these homeless people on the streets of our cities, is NOT such a

"A Modest Proposal" Essay

521 words - 2 pages Word choice gives Swift artillery to create satire in "A Modest Proposal".In "A Modest Proposal", Swift uses several different words to create satire, one of which is the word 'breeders'. He uses the term breeders in reference to the women. In several paragraphs he talks about these breeders and their role. "I calculate there may be about 200,000 couples whose wives are breeders;"(Swift 2) The way that he refers to the women as breeders instead

A Modest Proposal

1236 words - 5 pages An Oxford University graduate, Jonathan Swift, in his article, A Modest Proposal, proposes a solution to Irelands growing poverty in the 18th century by proposing the selling and eating of innocent babies. Swift’s purpose is to state the benefits that the poor would gain from selling their one year old children to the wealthy to eat them. He takes on a concerning tone in order to convince the people of Ireland to consider and adopts his

A Short Essay Talking About Gulliver's Travels And How Johnathan Swift Uses Satire To Poke Fun At Europe During The 18th Century

523 words - 3 pages Gulliver's Travels details a sailor's journey to four very different fantastical societies. The first, Lilliput, is populated by miniature people who fight wars over the proper way to break an egg. The second, Brobdingnag, is inhabited by giants who put Gulliver on display as a curiosity. The third consists of a kingdom governed by a king who lives on a floating island; the kingdom also contains an academy of scientists performing futile

Similar Essays

Satire Of A Modest Proposal Essay

1395 words - 6 pages aspersions on his intended audience. Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” employs despicably vivid satire to call for change in a world of abuse and misfortune. The entire proposal stands as a satire in itself; an analogy paralleling the tyrannical attitude of the British toward their Irish counterparts and the use of babies as an economic commodity. In short, Swift suggests that Irish parents are owned by the British, and babies are property

Literary Satire In “A Modest Proposal”

895 words - 4 pages In the mid-18th century, Ireland was a country stricken by severe poverty. Governed largely by a few wealthy English landowners, the Irish masses faced high taxation, food shortage, and over population. In “A Modest Proposal,” Jonathan Swift suggests a radical solution to Ireland’s poverty problem by means of consuming Irish infants. By using heavy literary satire to demonstrate the economic and religious prejudice surrounding Ireland

Satire In Swift's A Modest Proposal

997 words - 4 pages Satire in Swift's A Modest Proposal Swift's aim of his proposal is to expose the cruelty of the rich landlords of Ireland, who were not being aware of the poverty and suffering of the Irish people. Swift's proposal is an attempt to suggest a remedy of Ireland's situation by shocking those who are powerful enough to inflict change on Ireland's appalling circumstances

Satire In A Modest Proposal By Jonathan Swift

905 words - 4 pages common realities that were relatable and indisputably true, “A Modest Proposal” resonated with the Irish community of the time. In modern times, popular satire seems to be about more trivial subject matter, but is nevertheless just as effective as works of Swift’s time. We can make fun of John McCain’s age, Bill Clinton’s love for women, and Hillary’s pantsuits; such jokes have appeared on magazine covers countless times. However, when it comes to