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Satire and colonialism in the eighteenth century: 'A Modest Proposal' and 'Gulliver's Travels'

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Satire and colonialism in the eighteenth century: 'A Modest Proposal' and 'Gulliver's Travels' Jonathan Swift was born in 1667 in Ireland, although he was a member of the English ruling class. When the Tories were in power he moved to London and became close associates of the two leading ministers Robert Harley and Henry St. John, however he hated Queen Anne and she hated him for writing the way he did about the monarchy. At the time that Swift was writing, Protestants were very much in power against the Catholics, 'penal laws' made it illegal for a Catholic person to buy land, obtain a mortgage on it and rent it at a reasonable profit. Therefore Swift and his writing was frowned upon by the Protestant population and criticised for his beliefs. Colonialism is defined as a system where one country rules over another country, at the time Britain was ruling over Ireland and was mostly responsible for the poverty and suffering in Ireland. ...read more.


I think that once Swift put forward the idea of using a babies skin to make woman's gloves I started to think that the text might be satirical, 'the skin of which artificially dressed will make admirable gloves for ladies'. I thought that the only reason Swift was suggesting this Modest Proposal was to solve poverty not to dress women in lavish clothing. In A Modest Proposal, Swift uses a number of different satirical techniques; the first is he introduced the object he is satirising in a believable way; he does this by using historical facts like mentioning the 'Pretender in Spain' or the fact that some people have to 'sell themselves in Barbados'. This makes the reader think that because he mentions true facts like this, they assume that the rest of the suggestions or things that are said in the article are also true. Another satirical technique which Swift uses is putting unexpected words into the text; some of these include 'savages', 'encumbrance' and 'prudent'. ...read more.


They thought this because the poverty was so bad at that time that they would have probably considered any solution, even if it was as morbid as that. A Modest Proposal was obviously written to satirise somebody, and in this case it satirises that certain class of person at that time. Also the government and monarchy that were in charge, try to bring it to their attention that their country was in such a bad state, that they would try anything even something as bad as this, to solve the problem. 'I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents...' is suggesting that the landlords have taken over all of the workers that work for him so they probably have rights over their offspring as well. Another way Swift satirises the protestants is by saying that the catholic mothers aren't able to work for an 'honest livelihood' and have to beg instead, unlike the protestants who own all land and have rights over everything. ...read more.

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