Swift Satire And Satire

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Pope and Swift as Satirists The eighteenth century was a time of great political upheaval and social change in England. Those with money and power, including many members of the burgeoning middle class, led lives of relative comfort and ease. The poor and other social pariahs suffered from their indigent circumstances. Humor in literature, particularly satire, became an important tool in social commentary. Jonathan Swift and Alexander Pope were influential authors who utilized satire to expose flaws in their society and promote change in both the public and private spheres of life. Jonathan Swift was an orphan from his time of birth in 1667. His parents were English, but he spent much of his life in Ireland. He was a devoted supporter…show more content…
He wrote his mock proposal as a policy “for preventing the children of poor people in Ireland from being a burden to their parents or country, and for making them beneficial to the public” (Swift 1199). Swift builds a logical argument in favor of essentially treating human children as livestock to sell for meat and hides (Swift 1201). “A Modest Proposal” is rife with irony, but Swift carries a serious tone from beginning to end. He never breaks character, and if unaware that this is a satiric piece, leaves the reader questioning if the author is legitimately proposing his preposterous plan. The proposed solution to raise infants for slaughter was not genuine, but Swift was highlighting an authentic and pervasive social issue. He claimed that the absentee landowners “have already devoured most of the parents” (Swift 1201) and that he “could name a country which would be glad to eat up our whole nation” (Swift 1205). Swift’s message was that England was abusing the Irish people and their resources to the point where millions were left impoverished, begging, and suffering with few means to survive. The author sardonically proposes authentic solutions in stark contrast to cannibalism, but in tracts “printed during his lifetime the various proposals were italicized to indicate Swift’s support for them” (Swift 1204). Among these solutions are taxing absentee…show more content…
Pope used this form to satirize epic poetry, particularly John Milton’s Paradise Lost, but also to display his own writing abilities; he demonstrated his ability to write in rhymed couplets without the work being, as Milton would have claimed, “trivial and of no true musical delight” (Milton 800). Although the form was not trivial, the subject matter could be classified as inconsequential. The Rape of the Lock, based on an actual episode from the life of a friend of Pope, is the tale of the Baron cutting a lock of hair from Belinda’s head. By writing a mock epic Pope elevates the story to the level of more serious subject matter in the same way the feud between his associates was blown out of
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