A Swift solution to Ireland’s problem – “A modest proposal” by Jonathan Swift

Read text, here.

Irony at its best. But this time it is not the narrator making a pun on the story or on the subject of matter; it is the author making a mockery of all that which the narrator and its society represent. It’s the author putting in front of the reader’s eyes how inhumane can logic be if it is put in the wrong hands. It is frightening to realize how perfectly rational and logical arguments can guide to the most sinister of all conclusions.

The first time that I read “A modest proposal” by Jonathan Swift, being still in high-school and highly interested in black humor, I just laughed like crazy seeing how Swift was able to make such a horrid and machiavellic proposition pass as a perfectly natural and logical solution to the problem of poverty in his nation (Ireland). I enjoyed it deeply because texts like this one, such as those of Thomas de Quincey or of the Marquis de Sade, opened my eyes to the possibility of another kind of literature apart from that of pleasant thoughts and happy endings; a literature that was meant to repulse the reader, that was meant to make him feel the deepest disgust and make his heart beat faster when it crashes into the truth of horror. But it did not only take one into the darkest places of the human psyche; it intended to go one step further, showing how one must have the strength to pass over that repulsive stage of the madness of the human condition to be able to see the world (with all its beautiful and ugly parts) with a grin of satisfaction and detachment: the world is a cruel place and life is nothing more than the sum of bad memories and depressing experiences but, as long as we are already here, why not try to laugh about it and enjoy the ride because there is no use in whining about a fact that cannot be amended.

Swift had made a stand, he had proposed laughter as part of the grieving process; as a way to surpass the suffering and keep on going with life. He had shown the world all of the issues that disgusted him and made him angry of society without using a preacher’s voice, without attacking nobody, nor giving anybody direct responsibility on the issues, without any sword or pistol; just with his rhetoric ability and with irony and satire as his weapons.


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