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The Cambridge Companion to Jonathan Swift - Essay Example

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The paper 'The Cambridge Companion to Jonathan Swift' presents the proposal by Mr. Jonathan Swift which has nothing modest about it. In fact, its contents are so ridiculous it was designed to catch the attention of those people in authority, the politicians who are responsible for the welfare…
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The Cambridge Companion to Jonathan Swift
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The surprise ending in Swift's proposal is that after talking at length about the benefits and virtues of cannibalism for unwanted kids, he turned around by saying how repugnant such a move would be. Swift effectively contradicted himself at the point where he hinted such a course is improbable because male kids have tough meat as their flesh is lean from continual exercise and would require boiling for a long time while the female kids would likewise be unsuitable as they are intended to be breeders in the future; that such actions would border on cruelty.
The author succeeded supremely in convincing any reader with his alternative solutions as anything short of cannibalism is indeed most welcome than engaging in such abhorrent action. He succeeded by shocking his readers and raising their awareness about over-population; by his extreme proposals, he primed the people to accept his more sensible alternatives by forcing the politicians to take cognizance of a festering problem and implement the appropriate remedies.
His satire of the Irish political economy was a challenge to its politicians to find new solutions. A key to delivering his political messages was use of various figures of speech such as metaphor, simile, innuendos and euphemisms to avoid trouble with the English authorities, as Shakespeare had done before him but still managed to engage his audience (Ray, 2008, p. 168) with the use of colorful and rich language. Jonathan Swift despaired at the failure of the feudalistic structure of Ireland to ably support its growing population, with its poor tenants but very rich landlords. This was before the advent of capitalism during the Industrial Revolution (1750-1850) when society was changed profoundly politically, economically and socially but brought new problems like alienation, the exploitation of labor (child labor and low wages) and urban slums because of a new materialism (Ashton & Hayek, 2003, p. 160) by replacing the old feudal system with the new factory system. A study of the humanities and Swifts proposal is the narrative of how and why it was written within that context (Sayre, 2011, p. 52). Read More
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