My Modest Proposal
How it works
Neoclassical satire stems from a period called Neoclassicism, or The New Classicism. The main idea of Neoclassicism is the way it is characterized. It is characterized by an attempt to resurrect classical ideas and standards to contemporary life. Jonathan Swift (1667-1765) was a popular poet that took the standards previous classic texts have set and innovated it in his a particular way. Swift introduced ideas in the forms of proposals in a certain structure. “A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People from Being a Burthen to their Parents, or the Country, and for Making them Beneficial to the Public”, prompted readers, including myself, to question and see the human body in a different perspective. “Modest Proposal” was written as Neoclassical satire to project a social problem and come up with a solution. It’s an attempt that will solve several problems Ireland has, including political, economic and social problems.
In “A Modest Proposal” Swift suggests to solve the problem of the citizens who are living in poverty by selling their babies to rich land owners of Ireland—this is because families cannot afford to feed and clothe their families. Positive reasons in his perspective to do this is money for your family, less abortion rates, and being able to feed more people. Swift takes the human function of childbirth and twists it into something grotesqueness. Due to the time period this proposal takes place in, it is clear the wives stay at home tending the children and house while the husbands are out working. “These mothers, instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in strolling to beg for sustenance for their helpless infants…(Swift 2402).” This is one of the few reasons listed by Swift to convince stay at home mothers who are unable to keep their children and fed and dressed.—“they shall on the contrary contribute to the feeding, and partly to the clothing of many thousands.” This statement made by Swift is striping the meaning out of Motherhood. It seems that reproducing no longer serves the same purpose. Mothers should reproduce because they need to contribute to feeding and clothing the population after their infant is killed, boiled and skinned for food and clothing.
How it works
Throughout this essay Swift lists reasons as to why resulting to cannibalism with babies is a good idea for the country. The reason that protruded me was his reasoning that husbands would treat their wives better. Also, the females would take better care of themselves because money is involved with their baby—“It would increase the care of tenderness of mothers towards their children (Swift 2405)”. Men will no longer beat or kick their wives down the stairs because they are now carrying money inside their uterus—not a baby, but money. “Men would become as fond of their wives during the time of their pregnancy as they are now of their mares in foals…(Swift 2404).” Swift mentions this because to some females, this could be the way to stop an abusive marriage they are in while making money at the same time. Domestic violence will never not be a problem in any society. Swift believes that if females start producing for the means of sacrificing their baby to cannibalism to make money then they will be free and safe from abuse from their husbands. He is mocking the sacred of marriage. The wife must supply something meaningful and the husband will pardon her from his abuse.
In the figurative sense Swift is proposing for females to take the beautiful act of childbirth and have the mothers turn their uterus’ into a baby producing factory. After the baby is one year it is considered to be in pristine condition to be sold into the meat market. Due to the fact that the first year of life infants only rely on breast milk the mothers are not losing money—“a child just dropped from its damn may be supported by her milk for a solar year (Swift 2403).” Here Swift is exploiting the bond a newborn baby and its mother has by giving the mother “factory” like attributes. Swift then suggests a contest who can bring the fattest most plump baby to the table as if it were a giant pumpkin growing contest—“…which of them could bring the fattest child to the market (Swift 2404).” Swifts take on contest with the fattest child could be compared to the modern day cooking network channel. He also suggests contest for best recipes involves the babies. The taste of pig has become bland and outgrown and the taste of human flesh will be the most delicious and tender thing all of Ireland has eaten and may even become “a considerable figure at a lord mayor’s feast or any other public entertainment (Swift 2404).”
In this proposal Swift takes many different social aspects and gives readers a new perception and causes them to think in drastic manner. Although many of his points he has made are very outdated and grotesqueness, he does poke fun at social and political aspects that are still relevant to this day. He brings awareness to the abuse and violence that may occur between husband and wife, especially for that time period. Overall I believe Swift took the beautiful miracle of motherhood and completely desensitized it by turning the mothers into a robotic like person or producer and treating the rich land owners as just consumers.