The short story Jonathan Swift a Modest Proposal takes place in the United Kingdom during the turn of the century. The story is a satire of aristocratic opinions of the time about what to do with the mass amount of impoverished persons during the time. In the novel,the way the author satires the upperclass of the time, is by recommending a final solution for the impoverished; turning them into food for the upperclass.
The way that the author uses cannibalism in a very grim matter is quite disturbing, but very effective at poking fun at the ridiculous mentality of the time. Today we have better solutions for the problem of poverty. One what that societies today help the poor is to provide them with welfare systems and food banks; social aid. This aid is paid by taxpayers and then given to the impoverished in many forms, be that food stamps to government welfare checks.
During the time that the story of jonathan swift takes place, much of the aristocratic government was very much against any type of social aid as it would increase tax. The ideology of the time was that of straight capitalism, that everyone should be able to pull themselves up by their own boot straps without government intervention. The disturbing thing about the modest proposal is that it seems to convey that people of the time would much rather dispose of the poor rather than help them. Another way that the impoverished are helped is through religious donation.
Throughout history churches have always been at the forefront of helping out the less fortunate, but this system of support has come obsolete in today’s society as population density increases. In small towns its much easier to help to donate to the church because every knows anyone. There is a tremendous sense of community in small towns. After industrialization and urbanization where everyone moved into larger towns the sense of community was lost. Its much easier to lose touch with your common man in a big city, giving less incentive to donate.
Conveniently the tale of the Modest Proposal takes place at this time. Education plays a big role in helping the impoverished. During the turn of the century in the United Kingdom there were vast gaps in the class system of the time, and class was heavily tied to education. Many people were illiterate during these years, and very ignorant of family planning and contraception. When poor uneducated have more children this causes more strain on the bread winners in the family causing everyone in the immediate family to become more impoverished s more money and resources are spent on the child. Education and family planning in the western world has lead to much less impoverished people in these places. The story of jonathan swift comes from a very different time. A time of uncertainty of resources such as food, water and space. Many of the upper class during the turn of the century were very afraid of a public uprising in the streets due to poor conditions and lack of food while the upper class lived a life of luxury.
Mass hysteria was propagated during these times of fears of overpopulation, and it wouldn’t be surprising that if the upper class did not consider killing off undesirables of the time, although eating them might be taking it to another level. But this is what makes a modest proposal a satire, a satire of the disgusting ideologies of the time. A very effective one at that. This piece probably made the upperclass think deeply of how they view their common man, and how that we should all be viewed as humans, not as animals for consumption.