In Jonathan Swift’s essay, ‘A Modest Proposal’;, Swift proposes that the poor should eat their own starving children during a great a famine in Ireland. What would draw Swift into writing to such lengths. When times get hard in Ireland, Swift states that the children would make great meals. The key factor to Swift’s essay that the reader must see that Swift is not literally ordering the poor to cannibalize. Swift acknowledges the fact of the scarcity of food and empathizes with the struggling and famished souls of Ireland through the strange essay. Being of high society Britain, which at the time mothered Ireland, Swift utilizes his work to satirically place much of the blame on England itself. Through his brilliant stating of the fact that the children cost money as well as aid in the drought of food and necessities the reader can get an idea of the suffering on going in Ireland; this brings the reader to see that instead of keeping the children their parents should either eat them or sell them on an open market. By wasting the scarce food in Ireland, the people are killing themselves; thus the children can be consumed saving food and at the same time making food. It is interesting to see how well Swift conveys his view towards the poor in this odd manor. Swift sees how the poor are treated by the affluent who may think that the impoverished are the reason for Ireland’s food problems. In fact, the entire essay is nothing more than sarcastic piece that deeply imbeds the blame upon the rich who he feels might have just as much or even more blame on Ireland’s food problems than the poor ever have. Swift intelligently uses his common sense logic in a strange way to convey his feelings about this predicament. Swift goes to great lengths to intelligently show these feelings. The ways at which Swift camouflages his ideas and thoughts throughout this essay brought many readers at the time to think that he actually wanted Ireland to revert to eating their children. His employment of such literary elements of irony, mix cynicism, and pure contextual reaction from the reader help to map the entire essay.
Thoughout the work, Swift persistently relies upon the use of irony. It is quite apparent that no rational human being would bring themselves to eating the flesh of another, which also adds to the irony of the story. Another interesting point of reflection is the fact that although Swift has children of his own, his are grown and his wife can no longer bear any more. Because of this fact, it is clear that further analysis would show that this work is purely fictional and cannot be taken literally. Many people of the time actually did take Swift’s recollections literally, which brought about much condemnation to Swift as a literary writer. Cynical readers of the time had come to expect such a voice from one like Swift. From the first sentence of the essay, Swift begins to fool the reader by applying the dreary atmosphere of starvation in Ireland. For example, Swift keenly routes to the beggars in the streets with there starving children close at hand. It must be brought to attention that Swift’s piece shows much remorse for the poor especially the children of the poor, even though it doesn’t state this quite so clearly. Swift does not feel that the starving children are of no use for the Irish people, except for being expended of. He may state that the children of the rich hold Ireland’s future in hand and the children of the poor. It is his combination of feelings between the rich and impoverished which brings the reader to see all directions to which the essay will embrace.
Furthermore, this roots to the many underlying statements, which emerge all throughout the story. Swift clearly holds deep resentment directed to those who blame those who are forced on bringing themselves to begging for food and wandering the streets. Though he indifferently speaks of the needy as ‘dead and rotting,’; Swift is being nothing more than satirical. What better way of ending poverty and strife in Ireland than wiping out all of the young generations, which would delete all of the destitute generations to come. Bringing the children to an open market would allow the wealthy citizens to purchase them for dining reasons. The skins of the ‘carcasses’ could be utilized to make gloves for the ladies. The hardened soles of the their feet could be used to make boots for the gentlemen. At this point, it is clear to the reader that Swift is being purely fictitious. The rich would have more uses for the bodies of these children than an Indian with a newly killed buffalo would.
The entire context of the story must be taken into account for the reader to have an adequate response. First off, the reader must see the conditions from which the essay is recalled. Many of the poor from this period lacked the ability to read. At the same time, Swift is aware of the fact that much of his audience is compiled of the rich and well to do. This class of people would most likely find it hard to consume the children of dirty beggars. What would the lowly beggars have done anyway if they were made to bring their children to auction, as if they were slaves or even prized meat? Most likely, as anyone else, they would have rebelled and thrown a coupe. This compilation of rhetoric and propaganda aimed to the upper class stirs an echo of an ironic portrayal of cynicism. Swift proposes this heinous portrait to bring an air of humor over the terror ongoing in Ireland through the respect of cannibalism. Very few authors of the time would venture into such shady territory; to poke fun at a dismal time such as the one Swift has seen. How can cannibalism, the eating of human flesh, be take so lightly by someone who would never revert to cannibalism himself? Actually, cannibalism is really not seen so lightly by Swift. It is clear that a famine is not a time to joke about the scarcity of food. Although to place blame on the rich through a sarcastic joke is very affective. Swift is humorous, yet at the same time a bit brutal for his justifications.
Because of the indifferent tone which Swift imposes, he was very often thoroughly analyzed, as well as judged, for his motives for writing. ‘A Modest Proposal’; proves noteworthy of being neither modest nor even proposable to any audience, no matter how rough the times may be. This indifferent tone towards the selling of children of which Swift writes has more of an impact than that of one in which the writer might actually be profoundly troubled over such a famine. The affect that is risen by Swift’s employment of a mixture of sarcasm, irony, and cynicism into his tone is one of clearity. It is his lack of expectations towards a good outcome that exalts the tone of Swift’s paper to a higher level. Swift knows that the depression and bleakness of the period will take time in getting better. To the poor it will seem like an eternity; thus, giving Swift a reason to write the way in which he does.
Throughout his writings, Jonathon Swift has used many different voices to explicate his views on the melancholy time period in which he lived. He uses a totally inverse route in writing his works. Swift brings to light many aspects of his culture such as greed, poverty, and ignorance. Other writers of the period would probably not even touch such aspects. ‘A Modest Proposal’; is a prime example of every interesting degree of Swift’s writing abilities. Ingeniously, the essay is a collection of these abilities. In conclusion to the story, the reader can scrutinize each sentence to find a different meaning or interpretation. Clearly, this essay is and should be treated as a work of fiction and nothing more. Though it is nothing more than a fictional work it should be taken into account that the essay carries a deeper meaning to which every reader can find difference.