A Modest Proposal Essay

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In “A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift, the satiric writing approach can be viewed differently with two types of literary criticism theories. The two theories of literary criticism that best fit into the essay are reader-response and Marxism. The criticism theory of Marxism is present throughout the text and is shown through Ireland’s lower class struggle in society. The reader-response criticism explains that there can be several meanings to the work and how the reader comprehends the text in comparison to another reader. Therefore, both literary criticisms can be connected to the essay and further explain its significance. The first literary criticism that best relates to the text is the Marxist theory. Having a Marxist approach underlines the poor economy and emphasizes people of the lower class. When Swifts suggests, “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 cabin doors, crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four or six children, all in rags and importuning ever passenger for an alms” (Swift 1). The text also gives examples on how the upper class used, “The poorer tenants [who had] something valuable of their own which by law, [was] liable to distress and [to] help to pay their landlord’s rent, their corn and cattle being already seized, and money unknown” (2). The Irish children were used as a commodity; in this case by selling their children to their landlords as food. This approach is still present in the world today and how dominant countries like the United States can buyout other countries for their own benefit. Given such evidence, the economic and social struggles of the lower class can undoubtedly be seen in most parts of the essay. Not only is the Marxist theory fundamental, the reader-response criticism is also essential to the text.

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