Self Representation And The Self Defeating Speaker In Jonathan Swift

2284 words - 10 pages

Because Swift constructs a speaker who is meant to be seen as himself in “Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift, D.S.P.D.”, his approach to the satire changes, taking on a more playful approach. The poem is more personal than political, and is more comedic in the sense that he satirizing himself as well as other people groups. The self-defeating rhetorical approach is embodied in this poem in the way that he puts himself down and exposes his own follies throughout the poem. While this is no doubt somewhat tongue-in-cheek, this in some ways frees Swift from criticism from outside sources. It is difficult to wager criticism at someone who has already wagered it against himself. While this could also be seen as poking fun at other writers who are self-deprecating, this self-defeating narration is used mostly comically in “Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift, D.S.P.D.”. In spite of this, it does effectively build a narrator who is well defended in the sense that he cannot easily be criticized from outside sources.
The self-defeating speaker can be used rhetorically either directly or indirectly. In a case where it is truly against oneself that the author wagers criticism, I consider this to be a directly self-defeating narrator; in cases where the narrator’s errors in morality or logic project on to someone or something else, I consider this to be an indirectly self-defeating narrator. While “Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift” eventually moves into satirizing Swift’s friends and readers, Swift opens the text by satirizing himself. The poem begins with Swift as a directly self-defeating speaker, in the sense that it is truly against himself that Swift is wagering satire. In the following lines, we see Swift present himself in a comically negative light:
Who would not at a crowded show,
Stand high himself, keep others low?
I love my friend as well as you,
But would not have him stop my view
Then let me have the higher post;
I ask but for an inch at most (15-20).
In lumping himself in with this display of selfishness, Swift is self-defeating in a way which seems to be asking for his actions to be excused. Because he criticizes himself, he does not offer much of an opportunity for others to criticizing him. If one were to suggest that Swift were selfish or self-seeking, it loses its impact because of fact that Swift has already wagered this same criticism against himself in verse. The self-defeating speaker can thus be effectively used defensively when it is used directly.
Shortly following this section of the “Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift”, the speaker creates other speakers who discuss Jonathan Swift and his work. At this point, the narration becomes indirectly self-defeating. While there are still blunders in morality and logic, they are projected onto Swift’s friends and readers instead of onto himself. Upon receiving news of his death, the ‘friends’ Swift depicts in the poem immediately seek their own gain, financial and otherwise: “O, may...

Find Another Essay On Self Representation and the Self-Defeating Speaker in Jonathan Swift

Creating Reason in the "Age of Reason": An Analysis of the Life and Times of Jonathan Swift.

1693 words - 7 pages functions directly, satire was the best method. Even in death, Jonathan Swift leaves us a strong message. Above his grave in St Patrick's was set the Latin epitaph he had commanded in his will. The English runs:The body of Jonathan Swift, Doctor of Divinity, Dean of this Cathedral, is buried here, where fierce indignation can tear at his heart no more. Go, traveller, and imitate if you can one who strove his utmost to champion human liberty.Works

Jonathan Swift: Misguided and Incorrect Criticisms

2158 words - 9 pages way (Bloom, Gulliver 11-12). To accuse Swift of being self-conscious is as absurd as any other accusation that has been leveled against him. In Swift's time, society began to look at pride as not a vice but a virtue, and Swift felt it was his duty to change this (Brady 28).Perhaps the most common criticism leveled against Jonathan Swift is that he is a misanthrope. Walter Scott, infuriated by Swift's attitude towards man, went so far as to call

Jonathan Swift: Misguided and Incorrect Criticisms

2084 words - 8 pages the way (Bloom, Gulliver 11-12). To accuse Swift of being self-conscious is as absurd as any other accusation that has been leveled against him. In Swift's time, society began to look at pride as not a vice but a virtue, and Swift felt it was his duty to change this (Brady 28).Perhaps the most common criticism leveled against Jonathan Swift is that he is a misanthrope. Walter Scott, infuriated by Swift's attitude towards man, went so far as to call

Focault and the Confessional Self

6494 words - 26 pages The ideas of confession that Michel Foucault states in The History of Sexuality can be used as a lens in order to analyze confessional fiction. The ideas of a power relationship between the listener and the speaker, the futility of truth, and the glorification of the knowledgeable self are definite traits of the Foucaultian confession. These, by implementing the theory of confessional fiction that Brooks implements and by employing these ideas

The Self

905 words - 4 pages individual who can communicate without a problem and you see that you can keep others interested in a given conversations, your reaction is more positive. Through this looking- glass self we develop a “self” concept. Depending on the observations we make concerning the reactions of others we develop feelings and ideas about ourselves. The reflection we see in the mirror is either negative or positive depending on the

Self-rejection and Self-damnation in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

1304 words - 5 pages Self-rejection and Self-damnation in Young Goodman Brown   In "Young Goodman Brown," the story's protagonist embarks on a metaphorical errand on which he plans to confront the evil within himself. Unprepared to accept this as part of his human nature, he instead rejects it, ultimately prescribing his own doom. The fantastic spirit of Young Goodman's travel is revealed at the story's outset, when he holds an appointment with a

The Improvement of Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence

1120 words - 5 pages people view themselves and react to the situations that arise in their lives (betterhealth). It can also be expressed as one’s sense of self worth or value and the degree to which we find, respect, and care about ourselves (goodtherapy) Self-esteem corresponds with how we feel within about who we are, it is our relationship with ourselves (counseling). The importance of self-esteem is based on the principle that healthy self esteem acts as armor

Jonathan Swift - Gulliver's Travels Too Good to be True: Interpretation of Swift's Idealism and the Houyhnhms

1381 words - 6 pages This paper deals with the depiction of my conception of Swift’s idealism in the 4th part of the Gulliver's Travels (A Voyage to the Country of the Houyhnhnms) concerning Gulliver’s confrontation with the social and political structure of the Houhnhnms and subsequently his expulsion. This portrayal is then dismantled, analyzed and a certain number of interpretations is achieved to show whether there is a concealed satire by chance due

The Relationship Between Self-Reinforcement and Self-Esteem (B.F. Skinner).

727 words - 3 pages hypothesized that a person with high frequency of positive self-reinforcement is likely to have high self-esteem.MethodParticipantsForty participants were selected for this study and ranged in age from 16-55 years. There were 25 female participants and 14 male participants in the study. All participants were selected from a convenience sample of friends and family of students from California Lutheran University.MaterialsFor both, the "Frequency of Self

The Elements of Success: Self Motivation and Self Determination

911 words - 4 pages Self motivation and self determination are the most important ways to succeed. In this essay I will use, “Learning to Read and Write” by Fredrick Douglass, “The Lonely, Good Company of Books” by Richard Rodriguez, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, and an interview of Patti Read to argue that self motivation and self determination are the most important elements to becoming successful. First, I will frame my argument, and then I will incorporate my

The Inner Self in The Awakening, Wuthering Heights, and Fences

2065 words - 8 pages The Inner Self in The Awakening, Wuthering Heights, and Fences        Does turmoil in people promote chaos in the world, or does chaos in the world create turmoil in people? To uncover a single answer to such a question is impossible. Therefore, those who seek a solution find themselves at a stalemate, and the query posed becomes rhetorical. Nevertheless, it initiates another inquiry worth thought and reflection: since the chaotic

Similar Essays

Self Representation In William Wilson By Edgar Allan Poe And Bartleby, The Scrivener By Herman Melville

2279 words - 9 pages The stories William Wilson by Edgar Allan Poe and Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville are useful examples to discuss the difficulties of self-representation. While the narrator in Poe’s tale begs us to “let me call myself, for the present, William Wilson” the complex self-representation here is also prevalent in the heart of Melville’s story. West's Encyclopedia of American Law tells us that “courts usually discourage self-representation

Satire And The Deployment Of Irony In A Modest Proposal By Jonathan Swift

2752 words - 11 pages Satire and the Deployment of Irony in A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift Therefore let no man talk to me of other expedients: of taxing our absentees at 5s. a pound: of using neither clothes, nor household furniture, except what is of our own growth and manufacture: of utterly rejecting the materials and instruments that promote foreign luxury: of curing the expensiveness of pride, vanity, idleness, and gaming in our women: of

Jonathan Swift: The Great Satirist Essay

2126 words - 9 pages Jonathan Swift is known as one the greatest satirists in literature. His experience in religion, politics and science allow his works to be considered genius in the world of writing. Swift’s writing laid the foundation for several satirical successors. Swift was born in 1667 in Dublin, Ireland. His father had passed away “right before [he] was born” (Draper 3531). He was left “in the care of relatives” for the first three years of his life

Comparing The Works Of William Blake And Jonathan Swift

538 words - 2 pages William Blake and Jonathan Swift were writers with specific intentions. Both were concerned about the human condition of their times, and many of these concerns have no resolution today. Both created literary works allowing them to present their point of view in, yet their presentation in society was vastly different. You can read Gulliver’s Travels and understand what Swift’s intends. The story appeals to the sophisticated, well-informed