Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal and Wilfred Owen's Dulce tt Decorum Est

1634 Words 7 Pages
Literature can have many purposes including entertainment, education, or persuasion. Literature can also be written to challenge common beliefs. This idea is seen by studying “A Modest Proposal,” written by Jonathan Swift and “Dulce et Decorum Est,” by Wilfred Owen. While reading through the poems, it would be difficult to see any similarities due to the fact that one is a poem about war and the other is an economic proposal. While "A Modest Proposal" and “Dulce et Decorum Est" are two pieces of literature from two different time periods, they show a certain similarity in the way they relate to and question the views of their respective periods.
“A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People from Being a Burthen to Their
…show more content…
To understand the satire of this essay, it is first important to look at the historical context of the time period surrounding the essay. The early eighteenth century saw a change in the traditional views of humanity that had been a cultural staple previously. Swift writes the essay based heavily on the common ideology that “people are the riches of a nation” (Landa). This means that the higher the population, the higher the national income will be. This essentially put a dollar value on the human life. According to Wittkowsky, the idea became a problem when it shifted from “people are the riches of a nation” to “only the portion of the population which was usefully employed was the national wealth.” This means that those who could not work were viewed as worthless in comparison. Wittkowsky then went on to describe the changing attitudes toward the poor, saying, “Moreover, throughout the eighteenth century the poor rates were going up, despite the great increase in national prosperity. This the writers on economic questions could not understand. Consequently, ‘a new bitterness superseded the old sense of responsibility towards the Poor.’” This information makes it clear that the public perceptions of the growing poor population were that they were no more than a liability to the economic

Related Documents