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SATIRE AND CHARACTERIZATION. “A Modest Proposal”  Conditions in Ireland in 1720s  Most land was owned by British landlords but worked by Irish  Though.

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Presentation on theme: "SATIRE AND CHARACTERIZATION. “A Modest Proposal”  Conditions in Ireland in 1720s  Most land was owned by British landlords but worked by Irish  Though."— Presentation transcript:


2 “A Modest Proposal”  Conditions in Ireland in 1720s  Most land was owned by British landlords but worked by Irish  Though the British landlords made money, the Irish were often paid very little; poverty and hunger were quite common  An Irish bishop in the early 1700s wondered “how a foreigner could possibly conceive that half the inhabitants are dying of hunger in a country so abundant in foodstuffs?” -Braudel, Fernand. Civilization and Capitalism… (1992)

3  While the Irish were suffering (as a result of the British policy towards the Irish), British attitudes toward the Irish were mixed.  Some had little sympathy for the Irish – the British didn’t feel as if it were their problem  Others felt sorry for the Irish and wanted to come up with ideas on how to fix this situation

4  Jonathan Swift was the descendent of wealthy British landowners in Ireland.  Though he was himself wealthy and British, he felt great sympathy for the plight of the Irish  He also felt that many of the proposals for how to deal with the poverty of the Irish were foolish and illogical For example, one popular proposal was to create “a company to manage all the poor…and to manage them for a profit.” Another proposal said that “if the [poor] people of Scotland and Ireland could all be removed into England, the three nations would all become richer.” In general, the poor were treated as a “distinctive species” that needed to be managed and dealt with

5  Therefore, Swift wrote A Modest Proposal as an attempt to highlight the suffering of the Irish while also criticizing the foolish, inhumane solutions that some people were proposing

6 from A Modest Proposal It is a melancholy object to those, who walk through this great town, or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads and cabbin-doors crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags, and importuning every passenger for an alms. These mothers instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in stroling to beg sustenance for their helpless infants who, as they grow up, either turn thieves for want of work, or leave their dear native country, to fight for the Pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to the Barbadoes.

7 I think it is agreed by all parties, that this prodigious number of children in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom, a very great additional grievance; and therefore whoever could find out a fair, cheap and easy method of making these children sound and useful members of the common-wealth, would deserve so well of the publick, as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation…

8 I propose to provide for them in such a manner, as, instead of being a charge upon their parents, or the parish, or wanting food and raiment for the rest of their lives, they shall, on the contrary, contribute to the feeding, and partly to the cloathing of many thousands… There is likewise another great advantage in my scheme, that it will prevent those voluntary abortions, and that horrid practice of women murdering their…children, alas! too frequent among us, sacrificing the poor innocent babes, I doubt, more to avoid the expence than the shame, which would move tears and pity in the most savage and inhuman breast.

9 [There are] an hundred and twenty thousand children of poor parents annually born. The question therefore is, How this number shall be reared, and provided for? which, as I have already said, under the present situation of affairs, is utterly impossible by all the methods hitherto proposed. For we can neither employ them in handicraft or agriculture; we neither build houses, (I mean in the country) nor cultivate land: they can very seldom pick up a livelihood by stealing till they arrive at six years old;

10 I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection. I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricasie, or a ragoust.

11 I do therefore humbly offer it to publick consideration, that of the hundred and twenty thousand children, already computed, twenty thousand may be reserved for breed, whereof only one fourth part to be males; which is more than we allow to sheep, black cattle, or swine, and my reason is, that these children are seldom the fruits of marriage, a circumstance not much regarded by our savages, therefore, one male will be sufficient to serve four females. That the remaining hundred thousand may, at a year old, be offered in sale to the persons of quality and fortune, through the kingdom, always advising the mother to let them suck plentifully in the last month, so as to render them plump, and fat for a good table. A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends, and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt, will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter.

12  A Modest Proposal is, therefore, a perfect example of satire.  Satire is the mocking of some weakness in individuals or in society or in human nature.  Satire attempts to mock something and make it look ridiculous; by doing so, it can highlight something that needs to be fixed or changed.

13  A satire always has a target; the target is whatever the author wants to change or have behave differently.  In A Modest Proposal, who or what is Swift’s target?  What does Swift want the target to change or do differently?

14 Characterization  Our second focus today will be on characterization, which is how we, the reader, learn about a character.  Characterization is the process of revealing a character’s personality.  If you say a character is brave, how do you know he is brave? How does the author communicate this to you?

15  We can break characterization down into two categories: indirect characterization and direct characterization.  Indirect characterization is when we have to use our own judgment to decide what a character is like.  Direct characterization is when the author tells the reader directly what a character is like.

16  A writer can indirectly reveal a character’s personality by:  letting the reader hear the character speak  describing how the character looks or is dressed  letting the reader hear the character’s thoughts  showing the reader how the character acts  A writer can directly reveal a character’s personality by:  using adjectives to describe the character

17 Examples  From A Christmas Carol  Indirect characterization:  Early in the story, two men appear and ask Scrooge if he would help raise money for the poor. When he refuses, the men insist, until finally Scrooge says, “Perhaps they [the poor] better [die] and decrease the surplus population.”  Direct characterization:  The narrator describes Scrooge as “a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner.”

18  “Harrison Burgeron”, p. 133

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