English 1022E Lecture Notes - Lecture 12: Jonathan Swift
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ENGLISH 1022E October 21st, 2010
ENGLISH – Lecture 12
A MODEST PROPOSAL:
o Right reason—without moral and spiritual values, reason is not good, can become enormously
destructive when left to its own devices. Swift realized this. Things that seem to be good, to be
using language (rhetoric, flowery) to cover up false logic (advertising). Reason without moral
and spiritual guidance is open to perversion.
o Projector/Proposer: the one who, in the text, twists right reason. Reason has become
unhitched from moral, spiritual and reality. Reason has “sold out” to economic rhetoric. Swift is
pointing out how dangerous reason can be.
o Consumption: England was attempted to consume Ireland, metaphorically, and it is this
metaphor that Swift picks up. The church in England was trying to control everything, drive out
the Catholic Church. England is devouring, consuming, eating up Ireland, and in the mind of the
Projector Swift makes that real. “Eat up our whole nation” – p.1119 NA. British are cannibalizing
the Irish, and the Projector/Proposer treats it literally.
o Satirical Targets: 1 - English exploitation and consumption of Ireland. 2 - right reason. Does this
so we wake up and face the issues and that we act and try to do something about it.
o Projector/Proposer: 18th century version of “Ed the Sock”. Projector is a hand-puppet, Swift
using it to get across his message. Soul and embodiment of perverse, destruct, reason, although
tries to come off as the soul and embodiment of good. ”Affected modesty” – nothing in it for
himself, but this is not true, because in the beginning he talks about the statue for finding a use
for the children, and he wants public recognition, for everyone to see how awesome he is, so in
the end he isn’t sincere at all. His “final solution” is not from right reason, but reason that has
given itself over to calculation, the madness, to craziness. “One male to serve four females” –
breeding language, treating the children as animals, as cattle. “Reasonable” – he is anything but
reasonable. He’s calculated everything about the future, mentally, coldly. Using a teaching
device, enumeration, to make his proposition that much more convincing.
o Consumption: literal interpretation. To sustain interest, 1115, varies the tone of what he’s
talking about from mild, to barbaric, and back and forth. From sane to insane, and back and
forth. Human disappears under value, economic value.
o Parody of scientific treatise: the calculation, the way he describes the children and the
procedures for taking care of them
ENGLISH 1022E October 21st, 2010
EXORDIUM: from beginning to “I shall now propose…”
o Persuade us to listen, get us on his side, sounds reasonable, sounds like he has the community’s
best interest in mind, who’s taken a careful look at the problem
PROPOSITION: from “I shall now therefore…”
o Give us his idea, show us his solution
DIGRESSION: from “A very worthy person…”
o To establish and define limits—not adults, not teenagers, just babies he plans on eating.
CONFIRMATION: from “I have too long digressed…”
o Men will become much more like stock-breeders, taking care of their pregnant wives in order to
secure their profit (the baby)
REFUTATION: from “I can think of no objection…”
o Present the “final solution” and all its benefits, and portray all his qualities
CONCLUSION: from “But as for myself…”
o Why go to all this trouble? Swift is deadly serious, wants to bring the roof down so we HAVE to
see his goal, HAVE to see what is happening to the Irish at the hands of the British, being
consumed, “eaten up”. Have to see we can help, can deal with the problems, and have to be
aware right reason can become perverse if not linked to moral and spiritual values.
Irony: a “combination of ‘meaning it’, not meaning it, and not not meaning it.” – Claude Rawson
o Problems at the heart of this text. Although the proposer is apart from Swift, it is still Swift’s
ideas and proposition that is present, regardless of whether or not it’s for criticism. Swift was
part of the Anglican Church, and perhaps his ideals are seeping into this proposal.
o The voice that we hear, concealed behind the Proposer, is STILL Jonathan Swift, is still
everything he’s thought of. Even at the heart of someone dedicated to right reason, there is still
evil, and deep in human nature, there is still evil.
A modest proposal: right reason without moral and spiritual values, reason is not good, can become enormously destructive when left to its own devices. Things that seem to be good, to be using language (rhetoric, flowery) to cover up false logic (advertising). Reason without moral and spiritual guidance is open to perversion: projector/proposer: the one who, in the text, twists right reason. Reason has become unhitched from moral, spiritual and reality. Swift is pointing out how dangerous reason can be: consumption: england was attempted to consume ireland, metaphorically, and it is this metaphor that swift picks up. The church in england was trying to control everything, drive out the catholic church. England is devouring, consuming, eating up ireland, and in the mind of the. Eat up our whole nation p. 1119 na. British are cannibalizing the irish, and the projector/proposer treats it literally: satirical targets: 1 - english exploitation and consumption of ireland.