AP English 11
December 18, 2011
Dear Mr. Smarmy:
I am writing in response to your request of the elimination of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” from the classrooms, libraries, and the school system as a whole. Let me begin by telling you that I took what you said into deep consideration, but after discussing with the work with some of the English teachers at Martin’s Groves Junior High School and conducting research on my own time, it’s become clear that Swift’s purpose of writing is not to encourage people to eat children, because it is satirical writing. I can reassure you that if Swift was really promoting cannibalism, I would remove it immediately from the curriculum. It is easy to misinterpret the meaning of “A Modest Proposal”, because Swift writes detailed, supported descriptions of his proposal of cannibalism. However, if you give me your time, I would like to explain the irony of the essay and why it upholds morality and decency in its self-mocking irony.
The essay was written in Ireland during the late 1720’s, and during this time, Ireland was suffering from the Potato Famine and everyone was going through a rough time finding employment and feeding their families. Keeping that in mind, contemplate Swift’s preposterous idea of cannibalism and what he could possibly be addressing by proposing the consuming of children. Swift’s goals were to express his disbelief in the ability of the politicians of Ireland at the time, the treachery of the wealthy Irish people, the English tyrants, and the poor living conditions of all the Irish people, and in this way, he blamed all of these people for this time of despair and desperation all over Ireland.
You’re probably wondering what all of this has to do with eating children. Well, in the case of the corrupt politicians, political pamphlets were very popular during this time period. Swift used his essay as a mockery of this literary genre, by conveying...