The Realistic Proposal?

Map of Ireland

During the early 1700s, when England restored Charles II to the throne, the oppression of Catholics became a part of British society & even became part of British law. England was still a rapidly growing trade nation as well as a being very successful in it’s colonialism around the world.While it stripped smaller countries of it’s culture & claimed their people, England was also stripping its smaller neighbors of their culture & freedoms as well. Ireland was a very farm-based, agricultural country. After Henry VIII is called in (or takes over Ireland) between 1669 & 1771, the Catholics of Ireland are robbed of almost EVERY right they have to owning land, voting, be able to bare arms , or even join any form of military. It even went as far as restricting learning opportunities for Irish Catholics. Doing this allowed rich Irish protestants to come in & buy their land. These landowners then forced the poor into a form of pretty much slavery & caused extreme poverty in Ireland.


This is why Jonathan Swift wrote “A Modest Proposal.” He uses political satire suggesting that the rich should just eat the poor Irish children. He then mentions how any realistic ideas would be preposterous. Swift’s proposal was influential to starting to restore Ireland & helping to make life for the poor “easier” rather than oppressing them more.  A Modest Proposal was successful because it made British readers stop & think of the issues in Ireland rather than ignoring them.


There is a lot of debate behind whether or not Swift’s satirical essay was actually the push to change the way Ireland was functioning.

In Swift’s proposal he mentions “realistic” proposal’s. “…let no man talk to me of other expedients: …taxing our absentees at five shillings a pound: of using neither cloaths, nor household furniture, except that which is made of our own growth & manufacture: Of utterly rejecting the materials and instruments thababies.jpgt promote foreign trade…” (Swift p. 11) This paragraph which continues to add more REAL remedies allows us to understand what Swift is truly proposing with his modest “realistic” proposal. He simply suggests that Ireland should consider not only taxing the rich to help support the poor, but also to stop importing goods that can be made in Ireland. By doing this not only would the country make more money but more jobs would be available for the poor of Ireland so they wouldn’t have teens selling themselves into slavery just so they wouldn’t starve. This is also the point where he stops & directly “attacks” the politicians who know of the issues in Ireland but are turning their heads to it because there was no “easy fix.”

He also says; “…quitting our animosities and factions…” (Swift p. 11) Here he seems to be referring to the separation of the classes & the different rights & rules set for each group. The rich of course having little to no rules & the poor continuously being oppressed & living harder & harder lives not only in Ireland but in England as well. What started as oppressing Catholics quickly became an oppression of the poor in general. And he seems to be speaking on the rich of Ireland being content with what is happening to their fellow country men & allowing it to continue & some even supporting it. Some even causing the suffering by making it next to impossible for the poor to work & own their own land.



He also throws a lot of shade at England when he states “…although perhaps I could name a country, which would be glad to eat up our nation whole without it.” (Swift p. 11) It suggests he thinks England wants to claim Ireland & make it theirs. He doesn’t seem to be talking about the literal idea of eating children here. He seems to be very obviously suggesting that England would be very happy to see Ireland “fail” on their own & need England to come in & take over AGAIN, thus making Ireland dependent of England & eventually maybe even becoming a territory of England as much of other parts of the world were at the time.

He continues to throw mocking hints at high politicians by saying; “…I am not so violently bent on my own opinion, as to reject any offer, proposed by wise men, which shall be found equally innocent, cheap…” (Swift p. 11) He seems to be addressing politicians because he speaks of how any wise man proposal of how they could fix the problem in a more humane & realistic way would be welcomed & supported. This idea is trying to pull the politicians attention & suggest that they SHOULD be thinking of ways to help instead of seeing the issues & letting the people of Ireland continue to suffer & not help them in anyway. This also goes back to when he says; “…for this one individual Kingdom of Ireland for no other that ever was, is, or, I think, ever can be…” (Swift p.11) He seems to be saying that since there was no other proposal & no one seem to be making any real attempt to help the poor or to stop the poverty in Ireland, his Modest Proposal is the best option compared to what is being done now.

Throughout the essay he makes remarks towards the politicians of Ireland & the politicians of England to try and make them open their eyes & realize that the issues in Ireland are very much by their doing more than anything else. Through trading, empowering the rich, oppressing the poor & Catholics, & by refusing to make an effort to fix anything, they are the reason for famine, poverty, & death all throughout Ireland. This essay helped to open some of the British & Irish people’s eyes to the real issues behind Ireland’s suffering. It didn’t just attack the politicians for not doing anything but it also mentioned realistic proposals the politicians & rich could take to end the poverty & fix the issues in Ireland rather than just ignoring the issues & allowing these people to continue to suffer, die, & sell their lives away into slavery.



“Founders Online: Affairs of Ireland, 20 November 1729.” National Archives and Records Administration. National Archives and Records Administration, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2018.

The French Revolution: A Political & Social Uprise

The French revolution was an uprising in France that lasted from 1789-1799. The uprising was started for many different reasons but, was carried out by men like Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon came from a family of minor Nobility and started in the revolution as an artillery officer. He became a general at the age of 24 and was given command of the Army of Italy. The Revolution ended up over throwing the Monarchy at the time. For a time they formed a Republic but, when that failed, they ended creating a Dictatorship under Napoleon. Many of the ideas used in this dictatorship were spread to Western Europe and even other parts of the world. The revolution was strongly influenced by Liberal and Radical ideas that would end up helping to shape our modern day Democracies and Republics.

The French Revolution was occurring during a time where literature was focused more on the Sublime and the everyday man. Romanticism  grew from the social changes caused by the French Revolution. The French Revolution was a rise of the lower class. These “everyday” people stood up and decided they wanted to have the same rights as the people they were being treated lesser than. This, along with other factors, cause the Romantics to stop looking for the rules governing nature and humans but rather to have direct interactions with nature. They also started treating people as unique individuals and wrote about them as such. The French Revolution also influenced  writers to write about the Absolute Monarchy. Authors believed the Revolution caused a needed change in societies and the way the lower classes were being treated.

Authors like Wordsworth and Coleridge wrote about the everyday man along with the sublime. In Wordsworth’s poem Resolution and Independence he talks about meeting a leech collector. The idea of the everyday man and his individuality comes out in this poem but it also shows some of the poets egotistical sublime near the end. Using the everyday man to sort of make himself feel better about the fear of becoming a well known author and dying young. He even mentions Chatterton, a young poet who committed suicide. Wordsworth mentions how he always enjoyed life and was happy. At the end he says a phrase saying if he is ever alone or depressed he will think of how bad the leech collectors life is and perhaps appreciate his more. He also ignores the man more than he actually talks to him which suggests people may have still had a hard time treating lower class workers equally. Wordsworth makes suggestions that makes it seem like he thinks he is significantly better than the old man. Wordsworth is known for thinking the Author or poet is superior to everyone else and has a special talent that he mentioned in his Preface to Lyrical Ballads.

Coleridge wrote a poem Rime of the Ancient Mariner on a sailor who would be considered an everyday man. He also added the Gothic  and mythical aspects to it as well. With the use of the sublime and the Gothic, Coleridge really covers a lot of the characteristics of a classic Romantic author. The poem doesn’t use as much of the sublime as Wordsworth does or some of the other popular poets but he does add some lines that are directly related to the sublime.

The French Revolution may not have been the longest or bloodiest war but, the literature and social changes it provoked has helped shape government and literature across the world. From starting a dictatorship to wanting to help the lower classes gain more power, the revolution touched people in countries like England to help influence poets and writers to support the lower classes to an extent as well. Though it didn’t completely change people’s opinions on classes in England, it did help start the movement to eventually help the British lower classes stand up for their rights as well.