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“A Modest Proposal” Analysis

Many times, we look at the lives of others and envy them. Many of the people we envy seem to have it all figured out. From the classy cars, beautiful homes with the white picket fences, to the happily married mom and dad, they indeed seem to be living their best lives. We tend to take our own lives, the little blessings worth holding on to and worth cherishing, for granted. All in the name of envying that which we only see in others. And that becomes the problem with the human mind. We tend to live in fantasies instead of accepting our situations and appreciating that which has been granted to us. As seen through both “A Modest Proposal” and Candide, Jonathan Swift and Voltaire were committed to exposing the problems inherent to their societies, they wrote entertaining texts that used irony, especially in terms of characterization, to point them out. There are individuals who represent the dangers of blindly following one way of thought over another.

“A Modest Proposal” Analysis

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Jonathan Swift’s essay was intended to shake up the English and remind them that the Irish were, in fact, human beings. Swift shows how greed corrupts the upper class of society. While the wealthy live comfortably off their monopolies, the poor have no choice but to beg for crumbs in the street. The sad truth is that, it’s not like those resources are being put to good use. Limitations on land development mean that peasants can’t grow food to eat or sell. Swift refers to greed that includes both people and resources. Sometimes, people are viewed as resources in this context.

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I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children (Swift, 2).

Swift means with the mentioning of the devouring of the ‘parents’ is that landlords devour parents with work, so they can help provide with the best title to the children. If the parents are devoured with work, that means that they are getting paid, and getting paid means food for the children. This whole concept is a cause and effect. If the children are fed, then they can live healthier lives, so then they can work and also help to provide for the families, which in the long run, is creating the best title to the children.

The desperation of the Irish can be felt through Swift’s words. The take-home from his words is that the people were too desperate to find any possible means to survive. Selling their babies would be evil yet a possible worst-case scenario action for them. It was that bad. It is important to realize that the author was living at the time and truly saw what human beings went through. The author himself is suggesting this bizarre “solution” and also informing the readers that the author himself has nothing to gain personally.

Swift portrays the hypocrisy of the people, how unjust, and unfair they are to their fellow human beings. The book portrays a torn Ireland. One that has been grouped into types of people, the rich and the poor. There is no in-between. And the saddest part is that the rich, like in many societies today, are feeding off the little pennies the poor have. It is ironic how the rich ignore the predicament of the people and continue to complain of how the poor are a pain to society, yet they have what it takes to end the poverty. The essay also throws shade on the rich in that they devour the little that the poor have in inhumane ways, such as, charging ridiculous rent and tax prices.

Secondly, the poorer tenants will have something valuable of their own which by law may be made liable to distress and help to pay their landlord’s rent, their corn and cattle being already seized, and money a thing unknown (Swift, 4).

The poor were forced to live in dehumanizing states called homes, eat unhealthy food just to survive, and wear old rugged clothes whilst the rich do not have a worry in the world. The author suggests that his plan would give the poorer tenants power in the form of leverage for rent and food.

Jonathan Swift goes on to say just how his opinions are nothing but a true reflection of his service to his nation; a penny for thought for the rich. “I profess, in the sincerity of my heart, that I have not the least personal interest in endeavoring to promote this necessary work, having no other motive than the public good of my country, by giving some pleasure to the rich” (Swift, 5). This sentence shows that he has no personal motive for making this proposal, especially given that his wife cannot have any more children, so the proposal does not affect him in the slightest. This means that he made the proposal for the sole purpose of helping others, not himself. This sly acknowledgement emphasizes that Swift himself will not suffer since he has no babies to butcher.

Overall, it is shown that Swift’s sole purpose in writing this satire is to get people to come together and come up with a solution to the famine. Swift does not take it easy on the landlords who kick back and raise the rents on their poverty-stricken tenants. In other words, the wealthy spend all their time grooming and eating fine dishes while the poor consider human sacrifice to survive. A Modest Proposal purposefully exaggerates the lack of action. No one would have given it much thought otherwise. The landlords/ upper class were shown to be wicked and greedy.

Candide, by Voltaire, is ultimately pessimistic in its depiction of human nature. However, according to the text’s defense of free will, as well as the fact that it is a satire, offer a more optimistic outlook. The book shows the kind of life we live at the expense of other people. Most importantly, Voltaire stresses the point of freedom of speech no matter how wrong one can be. Candide grows up in a neighborhood and comes from, what some may refer to as a royal family. He believes the world is full of happy, peace-loving people only to find a whole different reality in the end. He explores Pangloss’s idea that “all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.” (Voltaire, 1).

Candide’s biased mind and naivety are what lead to him being completely uneducated about what life is really like. He’s the adopted child of a German baron, and is good-hearted but is also hopelessly naive. Candide falls in love with the Baron’s daughter, Cunegonde. As he leaves the castle, his own comfort zone, he is met by the harsh realities of the world, and the heinous nature. He is met with violence and several atrocities along the way. Having been trained by his teacher Pangloss on how to live, he remains stubborn (in his views), even after seeing what he was taught was false. He continues with his good deeds despite the fact that he makes rather foolish decisions.

The old woman who was raped says “—A hundred times I wanted to kill myself, but always I loved life more. This ridiculous weakness is perhaps one of our worst instincts; is anything more stupid than choosing to carry a burden that really one wants to cast on the ground?” (Voltaire, 31). This old woman has gone through rape, slavery, and cannibalism but says she still would never take her own life. First, it was not religiously right to take ones’ own life. Perhaps the implication is that hell is worse than life, or perhaps the old woman, after her experiences, does not believe in God or an afterlife. This shows that humans are attached to life because deep down they really love it, not because they fear entering hell. Human beings naturally embrace life – a “stupid” move, perhaps, but one that demonstrates passion, and strong will.

Near the end, Candide, having seen the best of both “worlds,” learns to disapprove of Pangloss’s philosophies. “When you were being hanged, dissected, whipped, and tugging at the oar, did you continue to think that everything in this world happens for the best?” he asked (Voltaire, 88). The whole philosophy is shattered by all the bad experiences that they go through. At the novel’s conclusion, Candide rejects Pangloss’s philosophies for hard, practical work. With no time, he and the other characters find the happiness that has so long escaped them.

Voltaire also seems to believe that there is a positive side to human nature. For example, in Candide, the protagonist Candide has an optimistic view of the universe. Pangloss tells him that they live in the “best of all possible worlds,” which is a place where happiness and peace coincide. One example is when Pangloss briefly discusses Christopher Columbus’s discoveries. He says “…if Columbus…hadn’t caught that disease which poisons the source of generation…we would now have neither chocolate nor cochineal.” Although this seems absurd, it does show a sense of optimism for “the best of all possible worlds.” Even though there were some disadvantages to Christopher Columbus’ voyage, there were also advantages, and that is what Pangloss focuses on.

Furthermore, the philosophers took for granted that God exists, and concluded that since God must be perfect, the world he created must be perfect also. According to these philosophers, people perceive imperfections in the world only because they do not understand God’s grand plan. Because Voltaire does not accept that a perfect God (or any God) has to exist, he can afford to mock the idea that the world must be completely good, and he uses satire on this idea throughout the novel. The optimists, Pangloss and Candide, suffer and witness a wide variety of horrors—floggings, rapes, robberies, unjust executions, disease, an earthquake, and betrayals. These horrors do not serve any greater good, but point out the indifference of the natural world. More intelligent and experienced characters, such as the old woman, Martin, and Cacambo, have all reached pessimistic conclusions about humanity and the world. By the novel’s end, even Pangloss is forced to admit that he does not believe a word of his own previous optimistic conclusions.

In conclusion, Voltaire’s Candide and Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” show the reader the intrinsic nature of human beings. While Swift’s essay addresses his country’s famine and financial chaos, Voltaire addresses the issues in the Leibniz theory and the hypocrisy of the Church. Despite these differences, the authors bring light to ongoing social, political, and philosophical issues of their time and age.

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“A Modest Proposal” Analysis
Many times, we look at the lives of others and envy them. Many of the people we envy seem to have it all figured out. From the classy cars, beautiful homes with the white picket fences, to the happily married mom and dad, they indeed seem to be living their best lives. We tend to take our own lives, the little blessings worth holding on to and worth cherishing, for granted. All in the name of envying that which we only see in others. And that becomes the problem with the human mind. We tend to l
2022-06-03 05:08:40
“A Modest Proposal” Analysis
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