Swift’s Criticism of Society in "A Modest Proposal"

Anglo-Irish writer Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” (anonymously published in 1729) is a powerful political satire about the economic and social conditions of the poor in Ireland under British rule. The essay is rich with references to political events in England and Ireland in the 18th century. Swift takes ‘irony’ as the best weapon to attack on all kinds of vice and injustice prevailing in the society. Now we will see how Swift criticizes the society in his essay.

Before, entering into our discussion we are to know something the miserable condition of that Ireland. Actually the misfortune of Ireland begins when, in 1541, the Irish recognizes England’s Henry viii, a Protestant, as king of Ireland. The protestant landlords acquire almost ten percent of estates. Meanwhile, a law is enacted limiting the rights of Irish to hold government office, purchase, real estate and get education. Consequently, many of Irish flee away and those who remain live in poverty disease and starvation.

The essayist, at the very beginning of the essay, states the deplorable economic condition and social picture of Ireland under the British rule. As the author says:

“IT is a melancholly Object to those, who walk through this great Town, or travel in the Country; when they see the Streets, the Roads, and Cabbin-doors crowded with Beggars of the Female Sex, followed by three, four, or six Children, all in Rags, and importuning every Passenger for an Alms.”

Moreover, the author fears that, when the infants of these beggars grow up, “either turn Thieves for want of Work; or leave their dear Native Country, to fight for the Pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to the Barbadoes.”

This miserable situation is, in fact, resulted by the indifference of English administration and the oppression of landlords. Instead of solving the problem the British government shows a great carelessness to the repeated appeals to feed those hungry mouths.

Now, swift, as an English patriot finds out a “fair, cheap, and easy Method of making these Children sound and useful Members of the Commonwealth”. He wants to come with a proposal in such a manner, as he says:

“… as, instead of being a Charge upon their Parents, or the Parish, or wanting Food and Raiment for the rest of their Lives; they shall, on the contrary, contribute to the Feeding, and partly to the Cloathing, of many Thousands.”

Swift criticizes the authority by prospecting that this scheme “will prevent those voluntary Abortions, and that horrid Practice of Women murdering their Bastard Children” which is “too frequent among us”. His criticism towards the English administration becomes more clear when he doubts that, the poor innocent babies are killed “more to avoid the Expence than the Shame”. The author mocks the intellectuals and the policy makers of the time by proposing his grotesque proposal in the most formal manner with a great gravity. As the essayist comments:

“I SHALL now therefore humbly propose my own Thoughts; which I hope will not be liable to the least Objection.”

Now we will have a look on his proposal. In his proposal Swift suggests that a significant portion of Irish children should be slaughtered and their carcasses should be sold to the wealthy as well as landlords so that the poor parents can be economically benefited and get rid of the burden of the maintenance. The essayist criticizes the brutal mentality of the authority, as they never considered Irish as human being. To indicate their meanness, the essayist uses such words which are best suitable for the animal not for the human being. He uses the word, for example, ‘carcasses’, remains of dead animals dressed by butchers, to refer the remains of children prepared as meat.

Again, the essayist equates the oppressors with the butchers as they mercilessly snatch away the bread from the hand of the Irish children and rush them to the way of death. As the author says:

“…and Butchers we may be assured will not be wanting”

The essayist also criticizes the landlords for their aggressive attitude to the poor Irish. As Swift remarks:

“I GRANT this Food will be somewhat dear and therefore very proper for Landlords; who, as they have already devoured most of the Parents, seem to have the best Title to the Children.”

Swift stabs the authorities for their mistreatment to the Irish poor prospecting that, they will be very glad to eat human flesh as they have lost their sense.

“I could name a Country, which would be glad to eat up our whole Nation without it.”

The author also criticizes the fashionable ladies and the so called gentle folk of the society. As he says:

“THOSE who are more thrifty (as I must confess the Times require) may flay the Carcase; the Skin of which, artificially dressed, will make admirable Gloves for Ladies, and Summer Boots for fine Gentlemen.”

Swift, in order to criticize the society, ironically shows six benefit of the proposal.

Firstly: it will reduce the total number of Catholics, the enemy of the Protestants.

Secondly: the poor parents will get some money with which they can pay landlords rent.

Thirdly: the money will circulate among the Irish and increases national income.

Fourthly: the mothers will get rid of the charge of maintaining the children after the first year.

Fifthly: the empty taverns will be full with a huge number of customers.

Finally: it will be a great encouragement to marriage and increase the care and the tenderness of mother to their children.

Actually Swift’s proposal shocks every reader even the cruel barbarian can not think of such a cannibalistic idea of eating man’s flesh. Everyone with common sense can easily understand that out of extreme agony the essayist gives such suggestion. He wants to say beneath this proposal that government should take this proposal if they can not solve the problem immediately.

At the end of the essay, the bitter criticism is clear when the essayist terminates the proposal ensuring the readers that he has not least interest rather the public good of his country. As he says:

“I have no Children, by which I can propose to get a single penny; the youngest being nine Years old, and my Wife past Child-bearing.”

Swifts, by this easy, very successfully draws the attention of the authority as well as the readers. Robert Phiddian has written an essay entitled “Have You Eaten Yet” after reading this essay.

Some scholar argues that, “A Modest Proposal” is largely influenced by Tertullian’s “Apology”. James William Johnson points out the same central theme in both of the essay. Both of the essays are similar in their tone and the use of irony.

Last of all, it can be said that Jonathan Swift very successfully uses his mighty pen against the English oppressors by ridiculing their so called vanity as the writer knows that, the devil is brave in the face of threat, strong hearted before the tears and vulnerable only in the Achilles’ heel of his vanity.

The Corruption Of Our Major Political Parties In The US

Why is it that every time we look at Washington DC we see questionable activities borderlining on corruption or outright illegality? Perhaps this is one thing that both sides of the aisle agree on – they seem to agree this is acceptable, it’s not. Let’s take these recent issues with email scandals. We have the DNC being hacked by a Romanian Hacker and Hillary Clinton’s illegal private email server with official State Department correspondence on it, some of it Top Secret but all of it, none of anyone else’s business especially foreign entities and spies.

There was an interesting article in Homeland Security News; “Democrats brace for more e-mail leaks,” posted on July 26, 2016. The article stated:

“The FBI on Monday said the agency is investigating the hacks of the DNC computer networks. Democrats are worried that the Russian government hackers behind the DNC hacks may have gotten their hands on other politically embarrassing e-mails and documents, and the hackers would release these e-mails and documents between now and November in an effort to increase Trump’s chances of winning in November. Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks and its current top editor, who said that the release [of the DNC e-mails] on Friday was the first in a series.”

Basically, the emails that caused the DNC Chairwoman to resign are the tip-of-the-iceberg. Just as what was revealed from Hillary Clinton’s private email server turned out to be much more than she admitted when interviewed hundreds of times on the subject. If the DNC is corrupt and worked to undermine one of its own candidates in the primary process for another one, they’ve dishonored every democrat voter in America, and therefore they need to get their house in order and should probably sit out the rest of this election until they de-corrupt their activities and change-out their leadership. Free and Fair elections are crucial for a free society, but half of our electorate has been snookered and lied to.

If more emails do come out which show collusion which WikiLeaks notes is the case, then there could be another reason for a potential indictment of Hillary Clinton, even if she has temporarily dodged the first one with her misuse of classified material on her illegal server circumventing the State Department’s protocol. It hardly matters who hacked the emails in either case at the time, the question now is what information were in those emails, and what will they reveal about just how bad our political process has gotten and just how corrupt our leadership at the highest levels really is. Think on that.

Power Of Words In Politics or State Governance! Business Strategy For Success

Let us see some slogans or sets of words that brought great success to the Congress party in the political movement in India after independence.

POWERFUL SLOGANS AND SOLUTIONS:

“Jai Jawan! Jai Kishan!” played a great role in parliamentary election once, when the burning problem was national security and the need for more food production. “Kharibi Hatoe” was key word in another election. ‘Success to Soldiers! Success to Peasants!’, and ‘Drive away Famine!’ are the two sets of meaningful slogans that assured ‘national safety and prosperity’ once and ‘food for all’ in another occasion.

CROWD PULLING ASSURANCES:

These slogans played an important role in assuring certain benefits to the society as a whole and alluring the voting citizens to contribute their share in winning the election.

LOVE FOR LANGUAGE:

I wish to quote certain examples from Tamil Nadu, a Southern State in India, where love for the language and adherence to culture are considered as duty and discipline. The Chief minister of the state would always address the people with a chosen set of phrase.

EXPRESSING BLOOD RELATIONS:

While calling the attention of his camaraderie, the erstwhile Chief minister, Mr. C.N.Annadurai, used to commence his speech with “Unnaithan Thambi” meaning “calling you only my younger brother”. His name ‘Annadurai’ itself stands to mean ‘elder brother’.

Mr.M.Karunanithi, well seasoned present day politician and the Chief minister of the state, always addresses his countrymen with “en udan pirappugale” meaning ‘you have born with me’ or ‘brothers and sisters’.

MY BLOOD OF BLOODS:

Mr. M.G.Ramachandran, popularly known as MGR, (cine actor turned chief minister) had a strong crowd pulling power with these words: “en rahthathin raththame,” meaning ‘my blood of bloods’.

One of the cine directors of Tamil cinema, Bharathi Raja used to address with the emotional words, “en iniya Tamil makkale,” meaning “my sweetest Tamil citizens”.

CATCH PHRASE TO CATCH THE PEOPLE:

Thereafter so many similar things had happened in politics; slogans were of great use for the political parties to propaganda their policies and programs. Political parties use selected phrases for and against each other. These words are attractive and meaningful. These catch phrases are powerful in pulling the crowd and bringing the required positive or negative results in elections.

CREATED HISTORY:

To give an extraordinary example in Indian-Tamilnadu politics, we may say that the following set of words of a popular cine star, Rajini Kanth, had acted very strongly against a chief minister said to have misruled the state.

“Antha ammavukku ottu pottal eni antha andavane vanthalum kappatha mudiyathu”, the meaning of this Tamil sentence goes thus:

“If you vote for that (misruled) lady (chief minister), hereafter, even if the God descends down, He cannot save us.”

The speech of the cine star spread like a fire of the forest and made people work against the misruled Chief minister automatically. It created a history in the politics of Tamilnadu, by turning upside down of the total support.

SOCIAL PROBLEM WELL ADDRESSED:

Very recently to replace a non functional government and to ease the burden of the people, one leading political party offered a series of programs with assurance like, ‘jobs for all’ and also ‘rice for all’ at an unimaginable a low price in public distribution system. “Two rupees for a kilogram of rice” is the slogan that enchanted the people at the low and middle class level.

In any case, the burning problems of the people should be analyzed thoroughly to find out the most critical one amongst them.

The most critical problem should be addressed with due care to give extraordinary solutions that make people fully satisfied.

The scheme behind the success of this program is as follows:

PEOPLE > BURNING PROBLEM > GOOD SOLUTION > CATCH WORDS> PEOPLE’S PARTICIPATION> AUTOMATIC SUCCESS!

When an offer is made with select phrases that are meaningful and powerful enough to draw the people, then the people will look into the significance of the solutions. The result could be that the people themselves will take part in the dissemination of the favorable policies and programs to make it a successful episode.

SUCCESS COMES IN A SIMILAR WAY IN COMMERCIAL BUSINESS ALSO.

More Easily, More Naturally, More automatically, and More Certainly!

See you in the next!