08 October 2008

Jonathan Swift's Modest Proposal

Have you read A Modest Proposal By Jonathan Swift? All I can say is, it is an excellent example of satire. For one thing the full title is - A Modest Proposal: For Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public.

What's it about? In a nutshell, Swift is poking fun at the richer classes or those in power and their general attitude towards the poorer classes. The narration is written as if from the point of view of the privileged where he views the poor as disposable poor and in doing so, it becomes a social critique of the upper class and the way they are influencing the policies of 18th Century Ireland.

Excerpt from article:

That the remaining hundred thousand may, at a year old, be offered in the sale to the persons of quality and fortune through the kingdom; always advising the mother to let them suck plentifully in the last month, so as to render them plump and fat for a good table. A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends; and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter.

Side note: readers will probably remember Swift as the author of Gulliver's Travels, another well written critique of politics.