Criticisms in Jonathan Swifts A Modest Proposal A satire is a literary work in which human foolishness and vice are criticized. Satire employs humor and wit to ridicule human institutions or humanity itself, in order that they might be remodeled or improved (Random House). A Modest Proposal, by Jonathan Swift is a prime example of a satire. Throughout the piece it is difficult to know exactly whom and what Swift is criticizing. This is because Swift criticizes three groups of people and uses metaphors to make the satire work. Swift ridicules the English for economically oppressing the Irish, the Irish for being passive and allowing the English to oppress them, and the reader of the piece for representing all the wrong doings in society. Many of the images that Swift paints for the reader are images that he witnessed firsthand while he was in Ireland. He was able to feel what the people were going through and he put that feeling into his work. The main group of people that Jonathan Swift indicts is the English. Swift blames the English for creating the environment that the Irish are living in. He witnessed the Irish people living in poverty while their absentee landlords were acquiring great wealth. The poor tenants will have something valuable of their own, which by law may be made liable to distress and help to pay their landlords rent, their corn and cattle being already seized, and money a thing unknown (Swift). Swift illustrates how the British politicians were making laws, to govern the Irish, from afar. Rather than directly accusing the English of economically oppressing the Irish, Swift implies it. He uses metaphors to convey his thoughts. The entire and significantly horrible idea of cannibalism is a metaphor that Swift uses. The British felt that the laws that they were passing were good and just laws, when in actuality all they were doing was making the landlords gain more wea…
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