Short Story Analysis
A Modest Proposal
Jonathan Swift once remarked, “We have just religion enough to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another” (Conditions). 1729 was a time where both economic and religious struggles raged between Ireland and England. Jonathan Swift’s motives for A Modest Proposal were driven by influence, oppression, and poverty. This brutal yet ironic satire demonstrated Swift’s frustration in regards to English and Irish politics. His mocking tone was to shock Ireland out of its weary state, and at the same time humiliate England. In the years prior to A Modest Proposal, Swift was a lobbyist for the Irish clergymen. Swift supported a religious group called the Tories for the reason that they backed the Church of Ireland’s position regarding taxation. He didn’t believe it to be fair that English clergymen were exempt from paying taxes, while the Irish church was forced to pay “first fruits and twentieth parts” (Critical Companion). He pokes fun at the anti-Catholic audience with the statement, “…there are more children born in Roman Catholic countries about nine months after Lent, the markets will be more glutted than usual, because the number of Popish infants, is at least three to one in this kingdom, and therefore it will have one other collateral advantage, by lessening the number of Papists among us” (Modest Proposal). When the Whig government took over with King George I, he was left with no opportunity to advance his political involvement, so he felt forced to return to Ireland. “To Swift this meant for the time the fall from unique authority to absolute insignificance” (Life). This treatment that he received only fueled his anger and influenced his annoyance toward England’s neglect of Ireland.
Oppression is defined as the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner. Jonathan Swift implies in his writing of A Modest Proposal that England is full of greed and pays no regard to how their...
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