Essay on 'Modest Proposal' Satire

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In this research paper, the purpose of this study will be to identify the differences and similarities between Oliver Goldsmith's and Jonathan Swift's satire. This paper will also compare and contrast the social criticism of Oliver Goldsmith and Jonathan Swift to today’s varying issues. Both Oliver Goldsmith and Jonathan Swift had many things in common about their writing styles that make them very interesting for scholars to compare them to each other. Both of these writers used a large amount of satire in their writings. Most of the satire was directed towards social matters, mainly the unfairness that was happening in Ireland.

Oliver Goldsmith was raised in Ireland and his childhood was somewhat of a disappointment to him. Continuing into his adult life, Oliver had trouble finding what he was good at for work so he tried a multitude of various occupations. It wasn't until 1757 that Oliver started writing periodicals, for various companies. He submitted about 10 periodicals from 1757 through 1762. Oliver would use satire throughout his works but not too heavily because he was a compassionate person in character still. One of Oliver's most famous works known for his humorous satire was The Citizen of This World, this book was published in 1762. This book is all about a Chinese professor that lives in London and they are all about the wide experiences he has had. A writing topic that Oliver focused on in his time was he would write on how there were so many poor and he really felt bad for them. He spoke about the poor in England, and in his book The Deserted Village he said that “the rich man's joys increase the poor decay”. In his book, he focuses on how the wealthy make the poor poorer because they have to move from their villages, all because of greed. Goldsmith in his writing uses satire, but takes an approach of trying to sympathize with readers to get them to feel sympathy for the subjects that he is writing about.

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Jonathan Swift was born and raised in Dublin Ireland, and was raised religious, which eventually him being ordained in the Anglican church in 1694. Swift started writing satirical pieces at a young age while he was a secretary to Sir William Temple in England. Two of his works that were the first of many to be published were The Tale of The Tub and The Battle of The Books. The Tale of the Tub was written with satire to talk about the corruption in learning and religions. The Battle of The Books was written to emphasize the importance of classical learning, which he thought would be a good book with all the modern authors coming up. Jonathan's most known work was his satirical essay “The Modest Proposal”. This essay put emphasis on the condition of the poor in Ireland, and how he felt about the topic. A lot like Goldsmith, Swift was looking at the income differences in his native country and wrote a satirical essay about how much of an injustice the difference between the wealthy and the poor was there. Swift in his approach uses heavy satire to try to make readers agree with him. An example from the essay “The Modest Proposal” is that he was telling society to just eat the poor because they are nothing more.

Both Jonathan Swift and Oliver Goldsmith felt for their people in Ireland and England and wrote about the sad reality of the difference between the poor and the rich. The same kind of thing happens today in modern society, the rich could do so much to help the poor but they don't because of greed. The rich could help the poor and most of them wouldn't notice anything different in their lavish lifestyles. This could be applied to the past times and Modern times. Most of the excuses used by wealthier people today are that the poor got themselves in the ditch so they need to get themselves out and that isn't being compassionate about the topic.

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Essay on ‘Modest Proposal’ Satire. (2024, January 04). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 23, 2024, from
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