English Lecture “A Modest Proposal”
October 21, 2010
Exordium: from beginning to “I shall now propose.”
Proposition: from “I shall now therefore...”
Digression: from “A very worthy passion...”
Confirmation: from “I have too long digressed...”
Reputation: from “I can think of no objection...”
Allusion: from “But as for myself...”
1. The projector/proposer
3. Parody of scientific treaties
4. Oration structure
Irony: a “combination of ‘meaning it’, not meaning it, and not not meaning it.”
- Claude Rawson
Problems at the heart of this text that we should think about. Swift has still created the
modest proposer. “Lessen the number of papists among us” he was an anglican, who
was deeply opposed to papists. Could be Swifts own idea creeping in there. He talks
about getting rid of prostitutes. Talks about using skin as gloves and boots (Nazis made
lampshades out of human skin (!)) Although he’s concealed behind the proposer, he’s
still Jonathan Swift. This came from his mind. He can say one thing, mean another, and
then not not mean the second one. Triple take. Even at the heart of someone who is
trying to be into Right Reason, there can still be some insanity there which we see in
these three things.
Satire, or militant irony, needs two basic things in order to operate. An object to attack,
something that the satirist feels needs to be addressed. The satirist must have some
kind of norm, standard, system of values, to launch that attack. Some kind of platform.
- Swift being a child of the Renaissance relies on “Right Reason”. He recognized that
without some kind of rudder, or values, the ship of reason could go astray.
- Reason without morals can become selfish. They sound good, but the more you think
about them you find that they aren’t good at all. Reason left to it’s own devices can
become very destructive.
- We have laws against Hate Speech because it aims to be destructive, it aims to use
false logic to bring about harm to other people.
- Swift recognizes that Right Reason is central to human activity. reason without
moral/spiritual value is open to all destructive sorts of things. The people doing these
things in the text is the Projector/Proposer - Projector/Proposer: Someone in whom reason has become unhitched from reality and
moral and spiritual values. Reason has become a servant of persuasion, sold out to a
kind of economic rhetoric. He’s pointing out to us how dangerous Reason can be.
- In Ireland, land was owned by landlords who just wanted it for financial gain - this issue
Swift is addressing.
- England was also controlling Ireland economically, politically, religiously.
Religiously, the Church of England was doing everything in its power to
undermine the Catholic Church, trying to drive them towards
- England was metaphorically consuming Ireland. This metaphor Swift picks up.
We can see a Parallel in the Dead