A MODEST PROPOSAL JONATHAN SWIFT PDF
Project Gutenberg · 59, free ebooks · 33 by Jonathan Swift. A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift. No cover available. Download; Bibrec. A Modest Proposal. Essay by Jonathan Swift. Meet the Author. Jonathan Swift has been called the greatest satirist in the English language. His genuine outrage. Jonathan Swift's. A Modest Proposal. A Publication of The Pennsylvania State University. Penn State's Classical Literature in Electronic Format Series.
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parents or country, and for making them beneficial to the public. by. Dr. Jonathan Swift. It is a melancholy object to those, who walk through this great town. Johnathan Swift's “A Modest Proposal” and other short pieces is a publication of the Pennsylvania State University. This Portable. Document file is furnished free. By Jonathan Swift. Edited and annotated by Jack Lynch. Swift was Irish, and though he much preferred living in England, he resented British policies toward the.
Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. The Satire as a Social Mirror: BA thesis in English. The English colonist tried hard to suppress and destroy the Catholic religion there, but did not succeed. Satire has existed for centuries and one of the great eras of satire was England in the eighteenth century. Satirist use laughter and irony to address situations they find unacceptable and even though their solution to the perceived problem can be unrealistic, it often brings to light unjust and unacceptable situations that might otherwise have been ignored.
In order to discuss sensitive contemporary social issues many authors use the form of satire. It gives them the freedom to raise questions about serious matters that people may find difficult to discuss because of their serious nature.
Discussing issues with humour and irony can take the sharpest sting out of the issue and make it easier to figure out and find a solution to. Therefore I believe that the use of satire can be helpful when serious social matters and tabus are being discussed.
Because of the strong impression Swift made on me, I decided to take a closer look at his best satire, A Modest Proposal. It is considered among the best written satires in the world and Swift himself considered one of the best satirists in the world as well. It is therefore a satire worth a very close look and analysis. To me, the content of the Proposal, and the manner in which Swift addresses the problem of the poor, is very appealing, even though his solution to the problem itself is quite grotesque.
I believe that it cannot be understood fully without knowledge of the condition of the people, as well as the political reality, in Ireland in the eighteenth century. Ireland has been populated since B. It is not known exactly when the Irish became a Christian nation. It is believed that the first missionaries came to Ireland in the fourth and fifth centuries. The most famous of the Irish missionaries is St. Patrick, a British born Christian.
He travelled around Ireland, converting the population to Christianity in the first half of the fifth century.
The monasteries formed a foundation for the Irish culture. The tradition in Ireland is that of ecclesiastical scholars, writers, poets, grammarians, and historians. This Christian influence was also apparent in the relationship between kings and church. There were five to six kings in Ireland who were powerful and who ruled the country. Even though the Romans never managed to invade the island, the Irish were subject to numerous invasions in the Middle Ages.
By the s the raids had become more intense and in the Vikings made their first settlement in Dublin. The Vikings, or the Ostmen as they called themselves, made a great impression on Ireland as traders. The Anglo-Irish Relationship Even though the kings of Ireland were powerful they had problems with the Dubliners who were of Norse descent and were not keen on being ruled by the Irish kings and church.
The relationship between Ireland and England had until this point been peaceful for the most part. The English king, Henry II, was perhaps interested in Ireland, its trading connections and resources, but an English invasion had never been seriously planned. In , King Dermot went to King Henry and with his assistance managed to crush the revolt of the Irish kings and lords. King Henry then changed his mind and in fought Dermot and his men, and won. King Henry gave his younger son, John, all rights to Ireland.
When John became king of England after the death of his older brother, Richard, Ireland was in fact a part of the English crown Simms Now began the era of the absentee landlords and great hardship for the Irish people. The next few centuries were difficult for Ireland, with decaying defences and incompetent administration as well as plagues and bad harvests Simms England itself was unstable due to conflicts such as the War of the Roses and the Irish were more or less left to fend for themselves Simms A penal law was established against Catholics, which stated for example, that Catholics were not allowed to vote, to run for office or to own a firearm.
The English king, the Catholic James I, did not allow the penal statutes against Catholics in Ireland to be fully enforced and the Catholic clergy took great advantage of this fact, to the disapproval of the Protestant officials Canny A rebellion against the Protestant settlers began in Ulster in and spread all over Ireland. The Catholics attacked Protestants and thousands were killed and made to leave their homes.
He was a vigorous Protestant and determined to revenge the supposed massacre of Protestants in Ireland. He proposed a programme that aimed at destroying all Catholic power and influence in Ireland and he was very successful at his work Canny He was however not successful in helping and the Protestant land settlements Cromwell had put in place became permanent.
They were not successful and this defeat sealed the fate of the Catholic landowners and facilitated the penal laws against Catholics. Ireland in the Eighteenth Century Trade was blooming in Ireland in the eighteenth century even though there were tariffs and bans on Irish woollens being sold to England.
Foreign trade as well as domestic bloomed but there were difficulties with the fluctuating value of Irish coinage and the ever present threat of war Foster The Anglo-Irish population were the landowners, the clergy and the politicians.
Even though they were in league with England, there was a growing disquiet among them because of how Ireland was run and managed by the crown. The Anglo-Irish may not have wanted independence or any power to be given to the Catholics, but they wanted more independence under the crown. They wanted a strong Irish parliament and were growing impatient with the rule of the English in Ireland.
A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift
They thought of themselves as Irishmen and wanted to be treated by England as equals Kee In spite of the Anglo-Irish anger towards the Crown for not showing enough interest in Ireland and its affairs, there was little sympathy among them for the native Catholics. Ireland had several different social classes.
At the top were the politically powerful Anglo-Irish, the more fluent Protestant landowning minority. At the bottom were the poor Catholic population, involved in farming, service or the textile industry Canny There was a great problem in Ireland with poverty and in fact too many children being born to the lower classes. People were having great difficulty making ends meet and many mothers had to resort to begging. There was a rather sarcastic metaphor already existing, one that Swift played upon in the Proposal, which goes as follows: It meant that because of unfair trading practices, too high rent and absentee landlords, the Irish were being starved and slowly destroyed by the English.
One of the great eras of satire was the eighteenth century in England. Great writers such as Swift, Pope, Dryden, Addison, and more, all wrote satire in the form of poems, drama, essays, and criticism Harmon and Holman Satirists use laughter to address situations they find unacceptable and, therefore, in need of change.
There are two different types of satire, formal and indirect. In formal satire, the writer usually uses a persona who speaks directly to the reader or to one of the characters in the work. Formal satire has two types.
Juvenalian satire is quite bitter and angry, biting harshly at the situation and people that the writer finds corrupt and unaccaptable. Horatian satire is more gentle, using laughter to try to change the situation. In indirect satire, the characters of the satire are themselves ridiculed and made fun of Harmon and Holman There are several forms of indirect satire, the principle one being Menippean, which usually does not have characters but more commonly mental attitudes to deal with Harmon and Holman It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what makes a specific work a satire.
The satire can be in the form of a poem, a novel, an essay, and so forth. The satire is therefore not one specific thing in the work, not like different kind of rhyme or the many uses of persona. A work is a satire because of its special character Sutherland 1. A satirist is a person who finds a specific situation or occurance to be unjust and unacceptable, and will try with his satire to identify what is wrong with the situation and offer his solution.
It is not enough, however, for the satirist to bring forth his solution and hope that people will read it and agree. Even though the cause itself is not purely political, the art of the satirist is to persuade and convince people that his cause is the right one.
A good political satire is intelligent and subtle and allows the imagination to run free. It can be misunderstood and is therefore often discarded as rubbish and foolishness. But the fact is that if the satire is looked at more closely and the true message of the satire is understood, it can be a helpful tool when difficult matters are discussed. Modern Satire Today, satire is prominent in television shows, political satire especially.
There are a number of American television shows that make fun of current social and political issues and make it easier to discuss difficult and serious matters with the use of humour, irony and even sarcasm.
The Colbert Nation is very popular and has been nominated numerous times for the prestigous Emmy awards in America. In his show, Stephen Colbert unmercifully pokes fun at politicians and other dignitaries, at war and atrocities commited around the world, as well as at social matters like racism, sexism and violence.
In Iceland there has been a weekly comedy show that uses satire, irony and humour to discuss the social and political matters each week. This show, Spaugstofan, has been on the air for two decades, but it is especially important today, with the hardship the Icelandic people are suffering because of the recent economic recession.
Many people are facing unemployment, losing their homes and going bankrupt, and it can be difficult to face the future, and the insecurities and difficulties ahead. Spaugstofan is therefore very important in making these very serious and difficult matters seem a little funny and, hopefully, managable. Spaugstofan is not as harsh a satire as A Modest Proposal, but still a satire, and as such helpful in discussing serious social matters and perhaps asking questions that need to be asked, like who is to blame and what is the government doing to help the public deal with economic hardship.
Jonathan Swift was born in Dublin in of English parents, although his father had died some months before his birth. Swift continued his education and eventually took orders in the Church of England. Swift was a passionate Anglican and he saw the Church as equally important as the Crown.
He was quite hostile to anyone who seemed to threaten his church in any way, whether they were Catholics or Dissenters, and even Whig politicians. In spite of his passion for the Church, his career never went further than becoming the Dean of St. Religion to Swift was a matter of life. He believed in Christian charity and that people should be good to one another.
In his sermons to his congregation he preached charity and kindness, and urged people to show Christian charity Williams He did not believe, though, that humans were good by nature Abrams , and therefore it was important to have a strong church with clear rules, that, when people follow the rules, make it possible for them to be good and kind to others.
In A Modest Proposal, one can see that his sense of what is right had been trampled on, that the unjust society of Ireland at the time was not a society Swift wanted. It angered him greatly to hear people talk of the riches of Ireland when so many of the Irish people were starving and living in immense poverty Williams and most certainly contributed to his writings in defense of Ireland and its people.
The money he left behind was used to found a hospital for the mentally ill, St. The hospital still exists today and functions as a psychiatric hospital in Dublin. He was indeed a great writer and a fantastic satirist. This style can definitely been seen in A Modest Proposal, controlled with anger and indignation boiling between the lines. The advantage for Swift in using the persona is that it made him able to express his own views about certain matters that he might not have been otherwise able to do.
Even so, Williams claims, Swift does not hide behind his different personas, he is ever present and obvious to the reader, although in a subtle way Throughout his life, Jonathan Swift experienced several disappointments. He decided on the Church as a career, he left the Whig party because of differences of opinion, his career was limited within the Church and he was forced to live in Ireland more or less against his will Abrams Katherine Williams discusses these disappointments in her book and states that perhaps it was disappointment that made him the great satirist that he was.
He was unsure of himself and always afraid of the worst outcome so it would have been easier for him to satirize an issue rather than discussing it straightforwardly 4 , the satire being a kind of shield against failure and criticism.
It is true that Swift did not always get what he wanted and he must have been disappointed many times, but I am not convinced that he was taking the easier way by writing satire. In fact, it is very difficult to write a good satire because one must be careful not to cross the line and become vulgar and cruel, or going to far the other way, with too little bite, being simply funny. The study of Swift and politics is quite a complicated matter and has been interpreted differently by different biographers Higgins 1.
The two opposing parties of English politics in the eighteenth century were the Whigs and the Tories.
The Whigs believed in a strong Parliament that should have the power to determine the succession to the English throne and they were quite liberal in religious matters. The Tories, on the other hand, supported the Anglican church and the country gentry.
Swift left the Whig party because he felt they did not care enough about the Anglican Church. Swift did not believe in extremes, and he often preached to his congregation to avoid extremes Williams , and this can be seen in his politics. He was not an extreme man, except maybe when it came to his beloved Anglican Church. Swift as an Irish Hero The legend of Swift as an Irish patriot can be seen as quite ironic, given that he lived in Ireland more or less against his own will.
He wanted desperately to leave and live in England, but because of political changes there he was forced to stay in Ireland. Politics and religion were favorite subjects in his prose, and he wrote many pamphlets and other works to further a specific cause.
Swift was indeed an Englishman in Ireland, but he did live in that country and saw many of the corrupt and injust laws and policies taking place there. Swift had a strong sense of justice and he was angered by the government of Ireland, the way Ireland was slowly being drained of all its wealth and people. He made several appeals to his fellow Anglo-Irish, as well as to the government in England, proposals to help Ireland become richer and to increase justice and patriotism.
The Irish tracts, the pamphlets, sermons and letters he wrote in order to bring the serious situation in Ireland to light, are fascinating to read, and they make it clear that Swift did indeed have the interest of the impoverished Irish at heart, as well as of the Anglo-Irish. Even though he did not like the Catholics very much, he disapproved of the abuse they suffered at the hand of the absentee landlords.
This pamphlet was an attack on the Anglo- Irish as well as on the English, who Swift saw as degraded and corrupt. Swift published this piece anonymously and it was well received by the public, but not so well by the authorities. Indeed, the printer of the piece was prosecuted by the authorities, but in spite of their efforts, the public outrage at the prosecution became so great that eventually they were forced to drop the case Daly The letters were seven in all: He was able to express his views with the aid of the persona without hiding behind it, because everybody seemed to know that it was Swift who was speaking behind the persona of the Drapier, except maybe the authorities.
He wrote those letters under the pseudonym of M. Drapier, although it was common knowledge that Drapier was Swift, in order to protest the new copper-coin monopoly given to a Mr.
Wood under suspicious circumstances Abram The manner in which it was introduced was outrageous to the Irish. His letters were successful and the Irish refused the new coin. 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 introducing a vein of parsimony, prudence and temperance: Of learning to love our country, wherein we differ even from Laplanders , and the inhabitants of Topinamboo: Of quitting our animosities and factions, nor acting any longer like the Jews, who were murdering one another at the very moment their city was taken: Of being a little cautious not to sell our country and consciences for nothing: Of teaching landlords to have at least one degree of mercy towards their tenants.
Lastly, of putting a spirit of honesty, industry, and skill into our shop-keepers, who, if a resolution could now be taken to buy only our native goods, would immediately unite to cheat and exact upon us in the price, the measure, and the goodness, nor could ever yet be brought to make one fair proposal of just dealing, though often and earnestly invited to it.
Therefore I repeat, let no man talk to me of these and the like expedients, 'till he hath at least some glympse of hope, that there will ever be some hearty and sincere attempt to put them into practice. George Wittkowsky argued that Swift's main target in A Modest Proposal was not the conditions in Ireland, but rather the can-do spirit of the times that led people to devise a number of illogical schemes that would purportedly solve social and economic ills.
A Modest Proposal also targets the calculating way people perceived the poor in designing their projects. The pamphlet targets reformers who "regard people as commodities". Critics differ about Swift's intentions in using this faux-mathematical philosophy. Edmund Wilson argues that statistically "the logic of the 'Modest proposal' can be compared with defence of crime arrogated to Marx in which he argues that crime takes care of the superfluous population".
Charles K. Smith argues that Swift's rhetorical style persuades the reader to detest the speaker and pity the Irish. Swift's specific strategy is twofold, using a "trap"  to create sympathy for the Irish and a dislike of the narrator who, in the span of one sentence, "details vividly and with rhetorical emphasis the grinding poverty" but feels emotion solely for members of his own class.
Swift has his proposer further degrade the Irish by using language ordinarily reserved for animals. Lewis argues that the speaker uses "the vocabulary of animal husbandry"  to describe the Irish. Once the children have been commodified, Swift's rhetoric can easily turn "people into animals, then meat, and from meat, logically, into tonnage worth a price per pound". Swift uses the proposer's serious tone to highlight the absurdity of his proposal. In making his argument, the speaker uses the conventional, textbook-approved order of argument from Swift's time which was derived from the Latin rhetorician Quintilian.
Scholars have speculated about which earlier works Swift may have had in mind when he wrote A Modest Proposal.
A Modest Proposal
Johnson believes that Swift saw major similarities between the two situations. Baker points out the similarity between both authors' tones and use of irony. Baker notes the uncanny way that both authors imply an ironic "justification by ownership" over the subject of sacrificing children—Tertullian while attacking pagan parents, and Swift while attacking the English mistreatment of the Irish poor. Bernard Mandeville 's Modest Defence of Publick Stews asked to introduce public and state controlled bordellos.
John Locke commented: Let it be, that they exposed them; Add to it, if you please, for this is still greater Power, that they begat them for their Tables to fat and eat them: If this proves a right to do so, we may, by the same Argument, justifie Adultery, Incest and Sodomy, for there are examples of these too, both Ancient and Modern; Sins, which I suppose, have the Principle Aggravation from this, that they cross the main intention of Nature, which willeth the increase of Mankind, and the continuation of the Species in the highest perfection, and the distinction of Families, with the Security of the Marriage Bed, as necessary thereunto".
First Treatise, sec. Robert Phiddian's article "Have you eaten yet? Phiddian stresses that a reader of the pamphlet must learn to distinguish between the satirical voice of Jonathan Swift and the apparent economic projections of the Proposer. He reminds readers that "there is a gap between the narrator's meaning and the text's, and that a moral-political argument is being carried out by means of parody". While Swift's proposal is obviously not a serious economic proposal, George Wittkowsky, author of "Swift's Modest Proposal: The Biography of an Early Georgian Pamphlet", argues that to understand the piece fully it is important to understand the economics of Swift's time.
Wittowsky argues that not enough critics have taken the time to focus directly on the mercantilism and theories of labour in 18th century England. At the start of a new industrial age in the 18th century, it was believed that "people are the riches of the nation", and there was a general faith in an economy that paid its workers low wages because high wages meant workers would work less. In those times, the "somewhat more humane attitudes of an earlier day had all but disappeared and the laborer had come to be regarded as a commodity".
Landa composed a conducive analysis when he noted that it would have been healthier for the Irish economy to more appropriately utilize their human assets by giving the people an opportunity to "become a source of wealth to the nation" or else they "must turn to begging and thievery". Landa wrote that, "Swift is maintaining that the maxim—people are the riches of a nation—applies to Ireland only if Ireland is permitted slavery or cannibalism" .
A Modest Proposal - Free download PDF ebook
Landa presents Swift's A Modest Proposal as a critique of the popular and unjustified maxim of mercantilism in the 18th century that "people are the riches of a nation". Swift's writings created a backlash within the community after its publication.
The work was aimed at the aristocracy, and they responded in turn. Several members of society wrote to Swift regarding the work. Lord Bathurst 's letter intimated that he certainly understood the message, and interpreted it as a work of comedy:.
You know women in passion never mind what they say; but, as she is a very reasonable woman, I have almost brought her over now to your opinion; and having convinced her, that as matters stood, we could not possibly maintain all the nine, she does begin to think it reasonable the youngest should raise fortunes for the eldest: Or if, by any accident, while his wife lies in with one child, he should get a second upon the body of another woman, he might dispose of the fattest of the two, and that would help to breed up the other.
The more I think upon this scheme, the more reasonable it appears to me; and it ought by no means to be confined to Ireland; for, in all probability, we shall, in a very little time, be altogether as poor here as you are there. I believe, indeed, we shall carry it farther, and not confine our luxury only to the eating of children; for I happened to peep the other day into a large assembly [Parliament] not far from Westminster-hall, and I found them roasting a great fat fellow, [Walpole again] For my own part, I had not the least inclination to a slice of him; but, if I guessed right, four or five of the company had a devilish mind to be at him.
Well, adieu, you begin now to wish I had ended, when I might have done it so conveniently". A Modest Proposal is included in many literature courses as an example of early modern western satire. It also serves as an exceptional introduction to the concept and use of argumentative language, lending itself well to secondary and post-secondary essay courses.