"A Modest Proposal” a Political Statement
Mouth-watering, scrumptious, and delicious are a few words that come to mind when you think of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.” His satire on the conditions of life in 1729 was to draw its readers to serious discussion on the distressing matters that plagued their society. His extreme and sarcastic response to the treatment of the ever-growing poor population of Irish families, by the rich English landowners, was to bring to light a matter that they had come to accept as normal. Apparently, over time English landowners obtained ownership of Irish lands and would lease these lands back to the Irish farmers at outrageous prices. This made it nearly impossible for farming families to make ends meet and in some cases to the point of near starvation. When many children of poor families grew up, they fled to foreign lands in search of a better life or they turned to a life of crime to make a living. The staggering number of children born to parents that could not support them was shocking and of a surety rarely considered in wealthy homes. Through this essay, he compelled the current government officials of the time to devise rational solutions that would deal with the large population of poor Irish farmers, and fix the conditions in which they lived.
The situation that he was so graphically stressing was the way the English landowners were devouring the parents financially, to which he responded sarcastically, “why not devour the children also?” His proposed solution caused the reader to consider these issues and was to help stop the maltreatment of the common citizen. Jonathan Swift also expressed the fact that people were constantly trying to solve their social and economic woes through illogical solutions. He proposed that his “wise men” or government officials develop a plan that would bring about a logical and fair solution to the regulation for such matters and give the common citizen some breathing room. He challenged them to consider his proposal to see if it was more humane than the conditions that they tolerated, and develop a better system of regulation than the pathetic process they were exploiting. Knowing many would reject his proposal he urged them to answer him in a manner that would consider the parents and families of poverty-stricken Ireland.
Jonathan Swift also brought to light the rising number of abortions that had been escalating during this time of maltreatment. The destitute mothers, that had given birth to children without fathers and had little or no hope of supporting them, saw no other way but the horrid practice murdering their fatherless children. The overcharging of rent caused a lack of jobs due to the farmer’s inability to pay laborers to cultivate the land. This led the children, which could have worked the land at young ages, to pick up a life of crime or seek refuge among other nations. Jonathan Swift expounded upon this practice and brought to their minds that...