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Satire In A Modest Proposal By Jonathan Swift

905 words - 4 pages

You can’t make fun of what isn’t real. When considering what lines can be crossed with satire, many people are most sensitive about protecting feelings; the common consensus seems to be that satirists should not overstep their boundaries by addressing touchy subjects and making fun of sensitive issues. While breaking hearts may not garner positive responses, it is important to understand that as a medium, satire is meant to offend one’s sensibilities. It serves as a platform to spark discussion through scathing and insolent hyperbole. It assumes that whatever outrageous portrayals are published push the reader towards enlightenment with their severity.
So, when does satire cross the line? ...view middle of the document...

It is heartless, but the whole point of this piece was not to scare parents from having children, but to shock readers into thinking not only about the inefficacy of Irish political leadership but also motivation and values. Had Swift written an academic paper of policy recommendations, no one would have bothered to read that boring, but politically correct, piece of writing. Using this severe yet effective technique we call satire, Swift was able to make an impact. His included just enough of the outrageous factor so that people of Swift’s time would not be pitch-forking his porch, but rather trying to absorb his insights.
Not only is the success of the piece due to its humor, but it is also solid because it is rooted in truth. Had Swift gotten carried away, and made accusations of Irish society that barely exist, he would not have connected with his audience. His readers may have accepted his work, but its meaning would have been lost on them; they would not have been able to grasp exaggeratory humor if they could not find its basis. This, therefore, would have invalidated his piece, and it would have failed to fulfill the purpose of satire. However, because Swift focused on satirizing 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 depictions of the Obamas...

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