“A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift

Comparative Paper

Words 1,134

A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift and The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope are works of literature from the 17th century. These works are a prime example of the use of satire to put their distinct points across to the reader. Swift’s essay is political in nature and ridicules the lives of poor to show the callousness of the ruling class. Pope’s poem, on the other hand, is a comment on the society being based on actual events that took place. This paper analyzes the use of satire in both the works.

Jonathan Swift wrote one of his most famed works A Modest Proposal calling for the direct sale of young children to be used as food and clothing in order to help bring Ireland to economic fulfillment. A Modest Proposal is evidently a satirical piece that calls for the systematic selling of poor young children as food and clothing in order to fortify the Irish economy, decrease the nation’s population, and relieve its poor parents of duties that keep them from being productive national. While this essay is a classic of Anglo-Irish literature as a paradigmatic illustration of an effective satire.

With the pamphlet’s apparent satirical genius, it is impossible to ignore the absurd and yet wonderfully clear logic of Swift’s claims. For instance, Swift unabashedly portrays the poor children as worthy of being sold because they are useless when it comes to certain jobs:

“We can neither employ them in handicraft or agriculture” since “we neither build houses . . . nor cultivate land” (2474).

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