Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift

I think that Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal is brilliant--in a disturbingly ironic fashion! What better way to portray the mistreatment of a people then point out the extremes of their behavior. The English were treating the Irish as if they were no better than animals. They worked them to death, took everything the produced--when would it stop? The English were already treating them this badly--they might as well make it official and breed and eat them like animals as well. Brilliant!


Reason vs. Emotion: Swift presents his argument in an extremely logical way. Every word seems to be there for a reason. He adds statistical data to his argument, making it feel very modern. Yet, I cannot help but feeling that he does this to show us that being completely logical is not a good thing--in fact, it leads to eating babies...or in the case of Nazi Germany to the disposal of and experimentation of thousands of Jews.

In 1984, at the reopening of Dublin's Abbey Theater, Peter O'Toole read Swift's Modest Proposal. This resulted in a MASS walk out of dignitaries...he caused a bit of a riot! O'Toole said of the incident that he wanted to recite a piece that had "a little something to offend everyone"!

Despite everyone in Ireland knowing that Swift was the one publishing pamphlets that went against the English governments beliefs, no one ever turned him in for the 300 pound reward!

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