Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal

1141 Words5 Pages
One hundred years after Swift penned A Modest Proposal the problem of grave robbing was rife in Scotland. Any cemetery in proximity to a University town was regularly plundered for fresh corpses. It was reported that “the persons interred did not remain in their graves above a night” (Rev. W. Fleming, 1821). There was a huge demand for dead bodies for medical students to dissect. Supply did little to meet demand, so students regularly plundered graves in the name of learning. Fortunately for students of literature there is no need to go to such macabre extremes in order to further knowledge in their specialist field. Students of English Literature need only burgle the bank of literary treasures left to us by esteemed authors. One of these authors is Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), writer, poet and Dean of St Patrick’s, Dublin. Amongst the gems Swift left for dissection by literature students, is an essay published as a pamphlet in 1729 called A Modest Proposal. Through analysis of the text it becomes apparent that A Modest Proposal is a valuable piece of literature for study by an English Literature student. When first published it caused some minor ripples but the true value of A Modest Proposal, has been realised in later years and is now acknowledged as one of the greatest works of satire in the English language. By studying Swift’s life, the themes and characters he introduces into this work and the literary approach he adopts, it will become clear why this essay is
Open Document