In 1729, Jonathon Swift published an essay titled A Modest Proposal, which dealt with the issue of homelessness among the poor families of his country. His satirical proposal to control the population of homeless children stirred a debate on the morality of his proposal. Two hundred and thirty years later in 1959, William S. Burroughs published a novel entitled Naked Lunch, which dealt with the desperate struggle of drug addiction and the governments role in rehabilitating addicts. Inspired by Swifts Modest Proposal, Burroughs satirical portrait of drug addiction was also controversial. Both Swift and Burroughs addressed serious issues of their respective times, with both drug addiction and homeless still being relevant issues in our current time. By using extreme examples to address significant problems in their respective societies, they were able to draw attention to the problems that were not being dealt with. In the essay A Modest Proposal, written by Jonathan Swift, the author proposes a plan to help rid the country of homeless children and help their parents at the same time. His plan was to have poor parents sell their children at the age of one, and then the children would be turned into food. I have been assured by a very knowing American that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing and wholesome food(Swift, par. 9). In turn the parents would be relieved of the burden of raising their children, because they didnt have enough money to provide for them anyway. It would provide the parents with a known commodity, just as crops and animals provide money for farmers, so would children for their parents. The meat of the children would become a delic...
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...orced people to look at things they always simply ignored or didnt want to see. Everything that was swept under the rug was now being put under a heavy spotlight, which is part of the reason these writings were so controversial in their respective times. They talked about things that were not normally talked about, which made people uncomfortable. It happened to Jonathon Swift in 1729, it happened to William S. Burroughs in 1959, it will happen every time a writer chooses to discuss problems that are being ignored. The truth is an ugly thing that no one wants to hear. It is a blinding light in a room full of darkness.
1. Burroughs, William S. Naked Lunch. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1992. 2. Swift, Jonathan. A Modest Proposal. Literature: Reading and Writing the Human Experience. Ed. Donna Erickson. Boston: St. Martins Press. 1998. Pg. 628-635.
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