Historical Enlightenment Criticism Essay

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Jonathan Swift’s satire, “A Modest Proposal,” was written in Ireland during the Enlightenment Period, a period of struggle for the Irish. This period overlapped a very different period in America, the Colonial Period and Puritanism, and China. Within Europe, it is easy to see the spread of similar literary practices, however; America was not as connected as China and developed less similar literary works. Most of the literature at during that time can be found currently in many modern works. Jonathan Swift was a very influential writer during the Enlightenment Period. He lived in Ireland, which at that time was a colony of England. Ireland was going through the Irish Famine, only comparable to the Great Famine a hundred years later, due to the harsh climate and poor harvests that followed. They were struggling through the last cold period of the Little Ice Age and looked to England for aid. Swift expresses Ireland’s desperate cry for help within “A Modest Proposal.” He uses the most popular form of literature at that time, satire. The Enlightenment Period is also referred to as the Age the Reason. It was a time of challenging tradition and skepticism. It also promoted the scientific method as it was closely tied to the Scientific Revolution. New ideas and theories were formed that overturned some of the traditional concepts and introduced new perspectives on the world and nature. It also supported a more secular movement towards logic, reason, and science, away from theology and faith. Faith was a huge motivation in America in this time period also. Puritanism is a strict religious doctrine and influenced much of the American literature. The Colonial Period included pious idealism, literary symbolism, and metaphors. They wrote of biblical stories, hope, courage, and optimism. In this sense, the Colonial Period is very different than the Enlightenment Period in Europe. America and Europe were separated by the Atlantic Ocean and the literature reflects it....
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