How Wickedness or Folly is Looked down upon in a Satire
“[Satire is] a poem in which wickedness or folly is
censured.” –Dictionary (1755), Dr. Samuel Johnson.
In the pamphlet A Modest Proposal, written by Jonathan Swift, a narrator, if you will, proposes that babies from poverty be bought and eaten to help the economy. The narrator goes through the story explaining the bad points of Dublin and he throws out the most controversial solution possible: eat the excess babies. The poor families in the city can sell their unwanted children and get paid nicely for their losses. In turn, the rich feast on the young flesh and are pleased, leaving both parties better off. The poor have more money to circulate, helping the economy, and the rich are fat and happy and clothed in baby leather. This satire is looking down on wickedness in two ways. Some may disagree with it, and it is probably more ethical to do so. However, some may agree. Samuel Johnson would have been one to disagree with this, had it not been a satire piece. Personally, I think his harsh idea is a great one for solving the poverty issue. It would take something as severe as murder to snap these ignorant people into reality. Even though it is written as a satire, it makes a lot of sense. Sure, not many people would eat a child these days, but maybe when this was published, things were different. Fat, greedy men could have been craving a new kind of flesh for their lunches. I’m sure anyone who actually consumed the meat of a helpless child would go straight to hell, but if it helps the economy, then people would be all for it. Firstly, if we look at the pamphlet as a nonfiction work, we see that the author is secretly making fun of Dublin’s problem of overpopulation and poverty. He’s looking down on the fact that the city is poor and full of prostitutes and he’s pointing out how big of a problem it is to have many children when you can’t afford it. Why would people be so ignorant to keep sleeping...
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