Satirical Elements in Swift’s ‘A Modest Proposal’
In “A Modest Proposal,” satire is one of the main elements Jonathan Swift uses to explain how Protestants abused Irish Catholics in the 1700s. A satire is a literary work that blasts or nudges fun at corruption or any additional error or imperfection. Satire may make the reader express amusement at, or experience hatred for, the individual or object satirized. The major function of a satire to prompt readers to cure the problem under debate. The major weapon of a satirist is verbal irony, a figure of speech in which language is used to disrespect an individual or object by conveying an implication that is the contrary of what the words say. In “A Modest Proposal,” Jonathan Swift uses elements of satire to assess Protestant cruelty of Irish Catholics.
Satire in literature, also known as Juvenalian satire, is used by those whose aim is mockery. It is more simply known than defined. From very old times satirists have shared a familiar goal: to render foolishness in all its disguises and to result in reform through such contact. It was a custom in English Literature through the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries that writers and poets would frequently use the practice of satire either for political purposes or purely to emphasize the peculiarities of the society. In this regard many chief English literary writers used satire in their work, but while a number of them used it to fashion an amusing situation, others would give it an extremely unsympathetic tone, which resulted in some grave problems with those who were targeted in their work.
There are three main types of satire; Juvenalian, Horatian, and Menippean. Horatian satire is named after the Roman satirist Horatian. It seeks to disapprove of rather than assault vice or folly. Some methods of satire include irony, wittiness, or embellishment. In general, Horatian satire is gentler, better humored and sympathetic, somewhat open-minded of human folly. It tends to mock human foolishness in general or by type rather than assail particular persons. Therefore it tends to create a cynical smile. Juvenalian is named after the Roman satirist Juvenal. It is more bitter than Horatian satire. It often flames and shows disapproval for people, and seeks to tackle some malevolence in society through disdain and ridicule. While amusement and mockery are still weapons of Horatian satire, the Juvenalian satirist isn’t frightened to use diatribe to construct a point.
“A Modest Proposal” is an example of a Juvenalian satire. Menippean satire, on the other hand, is the oldest form of satire. It was named after Menippus. It is a multifaceted, disorganized, and often shapeless form of satire. It tends to condemn the subject matter. It is a satire that criticizes everything in a disjointed manner. Discussion is vital to this kind of satire. It views human foolishness and iniquity as a communal illness.
A Modest Proposal is everything that a satirical text should be. It includes cynicism and mockery as Jonathan Swift takes and shows us how the deprived are treated wretchedly. The seemingly inoffensive beginning leads the audience to presume that Swift will establish suggestions that lessen the suffering of unfortunate children in 18th century Ireland, a moment in time of overcrowding and land strain (suite101.) He seems genuine and thinks it is a misfortune how everywhere they stroll in the streets of Dublin they see unfortunate citizens pleading others for hand outs. Swift tells the audience how the children of poor families are trouble and how instead of requiring fare and garments the rest of their lives, they will supply to the feeding and clothing of numerous amounts of people. Any intelligent person would think he intends to place them in factories or farms to labor and not be on the streets beseeching for food. He then tells however that a young fit child at a year old is “a most delicious, nourishing and wholesome food” (Swift.) Swift then continues on as if he said something wholly rational and sound. According to his suggestion, twenty thousand children may be set aside for proliferation which is more than they consent to for sheep, cattle, and swine. This is when the spoof starts to open up and that is at what time he drops the bomb on the audience. The compensation of his proposal is apparent. All his proposals are humorous, some even repulsive. The poorer tenants will have something prized of their own, which they may sell, to help pay the landlord’s fee. Not only will they vend their children to the landlords but if they do not pay out their lease, the landlords can seize their babies. The kids are being used as an article of trade and not even considered a human being. This suggestion is ironical in itself because Swift’s proposal to sell and eat excess children is not modest at all nor is it a rational solution to Ireland’s problems. Swift states kids nowadays either grow up to be thieves or “to fight for the Pretender” (Swift), and blames the population as a full.
A dark, bitter piece of literature, Juvenalian satire uses shadowy humor among other satirical techniques to present unkind criticisms of bribery or ineptitude. Jonathan Swift, who is well-known for his satirical writing, uses all aspects of Juvenalian satire in his essay “A Modest Proposal” to assault the means Ireland in general was run during his time. The central figure of speech in “A Modest Proposal” is verbal irony, in which an author or narrator says the contrary of what he means. Swift’s masterly utilization of this device makes his key argument-that the Irish are worthy of healthier treatment from the English-commanding and awfully entertaining.
The satirical intent of “A Modest Proposal” was misunderstood by lots of Swift’s associates, and he was unsympathetically criticized for writing an essay with such extremely “bad taste”. He came close to losing his support because of this essay. The misinterpretation of the intention of the satirical attack came about for the most part because of the difference between the satirical objective of the cannibalistic proposal and the sincere tone of the narrative voice.
In “A Modest Proposal,” Jonathan Swift uses elements of satire to assess Protestant cruelty of Irish Catholics. The major weapon of a satirist is verbal irony, a figure of speech in which language is used to disrespect an individual or object by conveying an implication that is the contrary of what the words say. A satire is a literary work that blasts or nudges fun at corruption or any additional error or imperfection. The major function of a satire to prompt readers to cure the problem under debate.
Satire may make the reader express amusement at, or experience hatred for, the individual or object satirized.