October 10, 2011
Short Story Analysis Essay
It seems that in every generation, there arises a hero; one who has the capability and drives to step up to the plate and use their own gifts and personal experiences as a way to shape their society and environment for the better. Some of these individuals use super human strength, some use extraordinary athletic ability, but in the case of Jonathan Swift; this individual, during the 1700s managed to use his personal experiences infused with his satirical style of writing to challenged people, systems, and governments to think and operate differently; ultimately for the betterment of those entities. It is through A Modest Proposal that Jonathan Swift depicts his personal process by revealing his capacity to change, understanding of sacrifice, and his compassion for his fellowman.
Capacity to Change
In order to understand my first example of Jonathan Swift articulating his personal experience in the this writing, I must disclose some truths and facts of his life that actually helped shape his perspective and philosophy on life. Jonathan Swift was ordained a priest in the Anglican Church in January of 1695. The Anglican doctrine generally allows for significant freedom and diversity within the areas of Scripture reason and tradition. He purposely set out to expose and challenge any strict form of suppression in these areas. In his calling/occupation as a priest, he set out to reform and change things that were not functioning the way they were intended to. It was discovered in a piece of his writing entitled “A Tale of Tub,” that Swift ridiculed and attempted to reform the way Anglican Church worshipped, simply because during that time there was significant influence from the Catholic Church that altered the way Anglican’s worshipped. I wish to make a connection here with his writing of “A Modest Proposal,” during the melancholy, economical distressed period Swift sought to reform the way people viewed sacrifice and prompted them to reevaluate what they deemed important in order to get through the tough time. (http://www.biography.com/print/profile/jonathan-swift-9500342).
Personal Writing: The Day of Surprise "That's so cool!" I exclaimed. In my hand was a Valentines Day card which folded to make a spaceship. I was in a Hallmark card shop with my father, looking at cards for the upcoming holiday. "If I got you that card now, then it wouldn't be a surprise later," my father logically stated. "But it's neat! See, it folds into a spaceship."I'll get it for you but... ...
Another example of Swift’s life being incorporated into his writing is found when he wrote for the Whig organization. The Whig organization believed in the reforming of railroads along with the self-government of aristocratic families. (http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Whig_party.aspx).
Swift advising the lower class to sell and eat their own children in a “A Modest Proposal,” was a way for the lower class to take action over their own situation as opposed to waiting for some external source to fix their problem. I attribute this promotion to the Whig belief in which he adopted as he wrote for them in the 1700’s.
Swift, a bastard child, raised by his uncles was pushed early in his life to be educated. However, he received his first degree by ‘speciali gratui’ which means by special favor. It is important to know that this was not something to be proud of. It was actually a form of punishment because Swift was rebellious and had behavioral issues as a result of his lack of fatherly discipline in his early life. Despite his low beginnings he went on to become a priest and received a master’s in his education. This showed that Swift realized he had internal character defects but pressed on and eventually ironed those imperfections out. (http://www.biography.com/print/profile/jonathan-swift-9500342).
“I have already computed the charge of nursing a beggar’s child (in which list I reckon all cottagers, laborers, and four-fifths of the farmers) to the about two schillings per annum, rags included; and I believe no gentleman would repine to give ten shillings for the carcass of a good fat child, which, as I have said, will make four dishes of excellent nutritive mat, when he hath only some particular friend or his own family to dine with him. Thus the squire will learn to be a good landlord, and grow popular among his tenants; the mother will have eight schillings net profit, and befit for work till she produces another child.” (Swift) It is in this paragraph one could actually see Swift educating the poor, teaching them to have a sense of value and how to calculate and budget. He is promoting self-development and reform, as reflected in his own life.
Swift reveals a sardonic and skeptical way of perceiving issues through his incredible use of satire, tone, and logos. The reasoned and confident tone Swift embodies cannot be mistaken; the authorative and motivational appeals give depth and emotion to his argument. In a moment of weakness, Swift admits the strongest objection to any proposal – dealing with the digestion of children – is that it ...
The Nature of Sacrifice
Swift grew up fatherless and lost the presence of his mother at a young age. One could just imagine the hardship he had to face at a young age. His introduction to sacrifice came at an early age and he had to mature at an accelerated rate. As a result, the extreme measure of Swift proposing all of Ireland to sell and eat their children; was actually his way of causing the parents to position their hearts to understand that sacrifice was going to be a major characteristic needed to be grasped in order to migrate through the rough economic times.
Lastly, Swift’s compassion for his fellow man was developed in his studies and preparation as an ordained priest. His compassion is traced all through A Modest Proposal. In this point I will draw attention to this statement: “There is likewise another great advantage in my scheme, that wit will prevent those voluntary abortions, and that horrid practice of women murdering their bastard children, alas! Too frequent among us! Sacrificing the poor innocent babes I doubt more to avoid the expense that the shame, which would move tears and pity in the most savage and inhuman beast.” (Swift) Here Swift expresses his compassion on the issue of abortion
Jonathan Swift’s father died before he was born, and his mother was out of the picture at a very young age. He was bounced around from house to house and raised by his uncles. (http://www.biography.com/print/profile/jonathan-swift-9500342).
As he grew his compassion for broken homes, and children in the same predicament remained on his heart. You can see the connection in this statement in” A Modern Proposal.” “This would be a great inducement to marriage, which all wise nations have either encouraged by reward or endorsed by laws and penalties. It would increase the care and tenderness of mothers toward their children, when they were sure of a settlement for life to the poor babes, provided in some sort of the public to their annual profit instead of expense… Men would become fond of their wives during the time of their pregnancy as they are now of their mares in foal, their cows in calf, their sows when they are ready to farrow; nor offer to beat or kick them (as is too frequent a practice) for fear of a miscarriage.” (Swift)
Swift uses logical appeal to support his suggestion about what to do regarding the poverty. He calculates the number of babies “the number of souls in Ireland being usually reckoned one million and a half, of these I calculate there may be about two hundred thousand couples whose wives are breeders from which number I subtract thirty thousand couples, who are able to maintain their own ...
“A Modest Proposal” is much deeper than a proposal to sell and eat children. Swift spent a good portion of his career writing on political issues; in fact he was also a political journalist. It is very evident that through this writing he addresses the state of the country all the while expressing his compassion on the country by shedding light on the political and economic issues within the country. It takes a very unique individual to have the capacity to unearth the lessons that have impacted them through their very own experiences and then use those convictions as a motive for impacting their world. Jonathan Swift is the epitome of this kind of individual. It is clearly seen that he incorporated his own experiences and convictions in his writing A Modest Proposal.
“Jonathan Swift – A Modest Proposal.” The Art Bin Magazine. Web. 11 Oct. 2011. <http://www.art-bin.com/art/omodest.html>.
“Jonathan Swift Print – Biography.com.” Famous Biographies & TV Shows – Biography.com. Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. Web. 11 Oct. 2011. <http://www.biography.com/print/profile/jonathan-swift-9500342>.
“Whig Party.” West’s Encyclopedia of American Law. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. (October 11, 2011).