Jonathon Swift Essay, Research Paper
It is melancholy object to those, who walk through this great town, or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads and cabin-doors crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags, and importuning every passenger for alms (Swift 1). Jonathon Swift wrote this passage as an opening to his famous essay A Modest Proposal . The proposal reflects his opinion and criticism on the poor people of Ireland. Within his writing lie very hard truths that the public cannot handle. Many were offended after reading some of his literature. Swift s writing is still a very popular topic among critics, today.
Swift is found to be arguable on whether his writing is really poetry or nothing but nonsense. As one critic says Swift is a writer whose genius and powers have always been the subject of very divided opinions (Davis V). This statement holds very true considering the opinions among readers. There are two sides to the story being whether this essay or poetry is of any value or attributes to greatness or if it is just a repulsive writing written by someone of no taste or talent.
Within his writing lies a solution to a continuing problem in Ireland. I think it is agreed by all parties, that this prodigious number of children in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom, a very great additional grievance; and therefore whoever could find out a fair, cheap and easy method of making these children sound and useful members of the commonwealth, would deserve so well of the publick, as to have his statue set up for preserver of the nation (Swift 1). This segment is an offer to anyone to help find a solution to the problem of there being to many children and poor families. Swift takes it upon himself to resolve this.
The problem is obvious enough, however: one must accommodate himself to the truth that some very endearing poetic traditions find absolutely no expressions in Swift s poetry (Hunting 79). What Swift calls poetry and the true meaning of poetry are not one of the same but total opposites themselves. His idea of poems were as far removed from what was generally considered to be poetic (Survey 18). What was written is absolutely grotesque and stomach turning. The simple thought of cannibalism is enough to make most run to the bathroom or cry. This shows the real psychopaths out there who have no problem with devouring the same species. Where is the art of raising children to a very young age of on or two and then selling them on the market for someone to eat? Since when does poetic genius involve the works of all of these weirdoes spreading the idea to eat one another?
We need no reminder that Swift s part in controversy does more credit to heart than to his head, As a philosophical contribution, his share is of no worth (Hunting 37). Basically what Hunting is saying is Swift s writing has no value. You can t but agree with him after reading I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or broiled (Swift 2) or A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends, and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt, will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter (Swift 2). His whole idea off the eating of young children and the detail of his plan is just sickening.
Some people admire Swift for his writings even though grotesque he gets a point across. We are compelled to admire the force of his talents, even while thus unworthily employed, in exposing the worst parts of our nature with the art of an anatomist dissecting a mangled and half-putrid carcass (Scott 1). Swift is noted still as being a genius writer even though his works are vile. The bottom line is he was an excellent writer but judged in a different sense on more the topic he chose to write.
Swift s tendency to dwell on the meaner, and even the revolting facts of life, occurs both in his prose and his poetry (Survey 18). He gets his point across grossly but nonetheless still gets his point across. People of his time don t have specifically an understanding of what was written means. Indeed, some aspects of his work-his political and ecclesiastical propaganda, for example, or his satire of the absurdity of the human condition -are more comprehensible to us than they were to his own contemporaries (Tuveson 1). This statement goes right along with how his work is better accepted and understood now than it was back in 1729. Today is where Swift is recognized as a great writer.
At the end of A Modest Proposal , Swift makes it aware that he understands his whole plan with the children is out of proportion but tries to persuade people to give it a chance. As things now stand, how they will be able to find food and raiment for a hundred thousand useless mouths and backs. And secondly, There being around million of creatures in humane figure throughout this kingdom, whose whole subsistence put into a common stock, would leave them in debt two million of pounds of sterling, adding those who are beggars by profession, to the bulk of farmers, cottagers and laborers, with their wives and children, who are beggars in effect; I desire those politicians who dislike my overture, and may perhaps be so bold to attempt to answer, that they will first ask the parents of these mortals, whether they would not at this day think it is a great happiness to have been sold for food at a year old, in the manner I prescribe, and thereby have avoided such a perpetual scene of misfortunes, as they have since gone through, by the oppression of landlords, the impossibility of paying rent without money or trade, the want of common sustenance, with neither house nor clothes to cover them from the inclemency s of the weather, and the most inevitable prospect of entailing the like, or greater miseries, upon their breed for ever (Swift 5). This excerpt, though long, displays how Swift is sticking with his plan with supporting details and asking everyone to hear him out and really think about what is said before jumping to conclusion.
It is true that The greatness of Swift s writing lies both in the intellectual content of his satire and in his technical and inventive brilliance (Bullitt vii). The public really has to have an understanding of Swift to get a full glimpse of how brilliant his work really is. To bring this essay out was a very daring thing to do because of all the controversy caused by it.
What also helps in understanding the true talent we are dealing with is to ignore the topic of which Swift writes about and concentrate on how he presents it. The exaggerations alone are humorous. Throughout his verse runs a strange medley of pathos and humor on his own fortunes and inevitable death (Survey 18). His proposal seems to flow together like a song and brings the reader anger and utter disgust, yet makes you think and get an opinion on the type of person Sift really was.
No matter the controversy brought up by Swift after the essay was released, you can t take back how creative the man really was. His verse is relentless in its mocking of literary conventions, romantic love, inspiration, and assumed poetic attitudes (Survey 18).