A Modest Proposal By Jonathan Swift Essay

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Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” illustrates almost all of the characteristics that Howard Hugo and Patricia Meyer Spacks list in the introductory section on “The Enlightenment.” “A Modest Proposal” demonstrates a criticism of vice and folly. The piece also shows the universality of irrationality and opposition to it, and calls attention to the irrational while also opposing irrationality through Swift’s claim to reason and tradition. Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” does, on the whole, demonstrate Hugo and Spacks’s first point of writing in satiric mode; it is a criticism of wicked and immoral behavior and of foolishness. Any rational person knows that to suggest breeding human infants as stock, as well as selling and eating them, is an absurd notion. Yet, as an exaggeration of human folly, the Proposer suggests just this, as well as profiting from all the other goods that can be procured from this trade. Swift plays on specific vices throughout the piece. He suggests that it will “prevent those voluntary abortions, and that horrid practice of women murdering their bastard children,” (Swift) not because people should see these acts as immoral, but because it will now profit these women to keep the children and sell them as provisions. Later in the proposal, Swift criticizes the foolishness of vanity of the fine ladies and gentlemen of his country; as such times of hardship may require thriftiness, the hide of the carcass “will make admirable gloves for ladies, and summer…

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