Politics Is An Ironic Business: A Comparison Of Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal And Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery

893 words - 4 pages

“You might want to be careful with what you say, it will come back to haunt you” and “actions speak louder than words” are recognized as common sayings. In a political context, these are statements for many reasonable people to follow. Unfortunately, the rationale to care and be honest has led those people to their unperceived downfall which is unknown to them. As a result, they get ridiculed or isolated from what society should be. Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery and Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal have demonstrated that standing up to tradition by speaking their mind can bear to be ironic.

Satire is presented in both stories as a tool for understanding of the shortcomings of the system of politics in the societies depicted. The Lottery would send a signal that somebody is going to be a winner, but no, that person would end up being the loser. It is a form of tradition that Tess Hutchison questions following a town reunion for the competition and as a result gets put down by the townspeople throwing rocks at her. Her shouting remark, “It isn’t fair, it isn’t right” (Jackson 258) concludes the story in that particular manner. In A Modest Proposal, the narrator's statements for “a solution” is more comedic than a serious policy. The reader would be inclined to support the narrator’s position because of the current socioeconomic climate of Ireland. Subsequently, the narrator ends up being quite foolish and even so, he urges the reader to take him seriously. One of his quotes, “that a young healthy child, well nursed, is at a year old, a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food; whether stewed, roasted, baked or boiled, and I make no doubt, that it will equally serve in a fricassee, or ragout” (Swift 499, 500), highlights failure on his part to create a believable plan to save Ireland. Both stories showcase that personal thought may not prevail in an unstable or unfriendly mood.

Setting, like irony, is a reflection of what the political system in the stories really turns out to be. In A Modest Proposal, the narrator uses the climate of Ireland to prove his solution for the state. For the narrator, it is bothersome image. His solution is to get rid of the children, but wouldn't that would create a new problem. This makes no sense since children are required to grow and improve the social state of the country which the narrator alludes to by stating that “making these children sound useful members of the commonwealth would deserve so well of the public, as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation” (Swift 498) which produces an ironic...

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