Ink In England Revision

Ink In Englimg_9001and by Jessica Bowman. My resubmission for the Restoration Period project. Here is the app that I designed and included in this post you can see a picture of what the mobile app icon will look like. This app is a world builder genre and works off the idea of creating a successful publishing house business from the ground up. Multiplayer functions available! More details are in the Prezi whose hyperlink you can find in the name of the app above.

 

Featured image from google images by printinghistory.org

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An Immodest Proposal

Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal is presented in a way that is insanely inhumane, but also in a rather formal, convincing manner. To modern day readers, this proposition would first strike as blasphemy, but given that this was created in the Restoration period, this was not meant to portray an idea of realism but rather a suggestive hope for improvement, given the brilliant satire in the piece. “The greater share of the seventeenth century satires are in prose and follow the broader definition of a satire as ‘biting wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose vice or folly (uknowledge.uky.edu).’” Satire was used in the Restoration period for the purpose of improving humanity by acknowledging problems in society and attempting to reform them by using a comical and witty manner. Through the use of satire, Jonathan swift was able to expose and critique social injustices by proposing his satirical plan in an effort to express the problem that was Catholic oppression in Ireland in the 1700’s.

We are introduced to Swift’s satire right away in the text. He says, “… having turned my thoughts for many years, upon this important subject, and maturely weighed the several schemes of our projectors, I have always found them grossly mistaken in their computation… I propose to provide for them (babies) in such a manner, as, instead of being a charge upon their parents, or the parish, or wanting food and raiment for the rest of their lives, they shall, on the contrary, contribute to the feeding, and partly to the cloathing of many thousands (Swift 141).” Here, we see Swift’s satirical plan, which is using the babies of the poor Irish for food and clothing, with which their parents will be rewarded a certain amount of money for. The satire in this passage is his use of the phrase “…and maturely weighed the several schemes of our projectors…” Although Swift may have weighed options for schemes to dissolve Ireland’s oppression and deprivation (Swift was raised fatherless and in poverty, a native of Ireland, a Protestant), his proposal turns out to be quite the opposite of “mature.” Swift, by saying that babies would “contribute to the feeding and partly to the clothing for many thousands,” is depicting this desire to solve Ireland’s oppressive problem in an immature and comical way, which is the element of satire. Here is a student-made video portraying the satire by Jonathan Swift, but in a more modernized light:

 

In this screenshot, you can see how this student depicted Swift’s attempt to display the poor people and see through their lens. I like how this video included a begging scene, because this proposal was not just satirically humorous with the act of eating babies, but had underlying notions that get uncovered as well.

The satire that Jonathan Swift uses is purposeful in the act to shed light upon these societal issues of a nation not coping and the poor being burdened. Swift says,

“Some persons of a desponding spirit are in great concern about that vast number of poor people who are aged, diseased, or maimed; and I have been desired to employ my thoughts on what course may be taken, to ease the nation of so grievous an incumbrance … they are every day dying, and rotting, by cold and famine, and filth, and vermin, as fast as can be reasonably expected… it would greatly lessen the number of Papists (Roman Catholics), with whom we are yearly over-run… (Swift 143-144).”

In this one passage, Swift first explains that the upper class Protestants were not confident enough to eat the poor Catholic babies because they were concerned with them carrying diseases. Then, he goes on to say that, yes, they are indeed “dying, rotting, by cold and famine, and filth, and vermin…” Here, Swift completely downplays the idea of the poor being sickly and struggling for survival by saying that the rich weren’t very excited to eat their babies because they might be carrying diseases and could in turn make them sick by consuming them. Even though he is speaking neglectfully and nonsensically, this satirical moment does shed light on the fact that there are poor people who are dying and aren’t getting any acknowledgement.

 

Swift, in A Modest Proposal also likes to shed the light onto the English landlords, with whom he blames for much of the Catholic’s struggle. He writes, “I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children (Swift 142).”

Swift is placing some blame on the landlords for putting the Catholics out on the street, a.k.a. “devouring” them because they would most likely starve and end up sick. On this subject, I found this quote online:

“He believed England was exploiting and oppressing Ireland. Many Irishmen worked farms owned by Englishmen who charged high rents—so high that the Irish were frequently unable to pay them. Consequently, many Irish farming families continually lived on the edge of starvation…Swift satirizes the English landlords with outrageous humor, proposing that Irish infants be sold as food at age one, when they are plump and healthy, to give the Irish a new source of income and the English a new food product to bolster their economy and eliminate a social problem (cummingsstudyguides.net).”

So, one of the major initiators to this starving and begging problem that we see with the Catholics can be titled to the landlords. Swift satirically notions that, because it was these landlords who “devoured” the parents, they should be entitled to “devour” their one year-old babies. This can obviously be seen as a comical statement and a reckless suggestion.

One thing that Jonathan Swift does well is proposing actually reasonable solutions to Ireland’s problems, but then brushing them off as a waste of time. “Therefore let no man talk to me of other expedients: Of taxing our absentess at five shillings a pound: Of using neither cloaths, nor household furniture, except what is of our own growth and manufacture: Of utterly rejecting the materials and instruments that promote foreign luxury: … Of teaching landlords to have at least one degree of mercy towards their tenants (Swift 145).” Here, we find out that Swift actually did take the time to think of schemes that would benefit everyday life in Ireland. But, he won’t listen to these “expedients,” as he says. Here, he is calling reasonable solutions blasphemous and sticking to his theory for selling and consuming one year-old babies. Can you see the satire?

A Modest Proposal is satirically brilliant. It is both convincing and absolutely barbaric at the same time. Swift does a good job to give reasons why this plan would work and then makes fun of the whole idea. The Restoration period laid the grounds for satirical writing and Swift took the idea and ran with it in this piece. He was able to speak of a topic that was surrounded by much controversy and feud during the era of the early-to-mid 1700’s and also be able to infuse satire into it. By satirically publishing this “modest” proposal, Swift exposed social injustices to the public, calling attention to abuses inflicted on Irish Catholics by well-to-do English Protestants.

 

 

Work Cited

 

Cummings. “A Modest Proposal: A Study Guide.” A Modest Proposal: A Study Guide. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.

Seago, Kate. “Restoration Satire.” Uknowledge.uky.edu. N.p., n.d. Web.

Swift, Jonathan. A Modest ProposalCurrents in British Literature II Course Packet. Comp. Ann McClellan. Plymouth, NH: 2014. Pg. 141-147.

 

 

Ink In England: Jessica Bowman

Ink In England by Jessica Bowman. My submission for the Restoration Period project. Here is the app that I designed and included in this post you can see a picture of what the mobile app icon will look like. This app is a world builder genre and works off the idea of creating a successful publishing house business from the ground up. Multiplayer functions available! More details are in the Prezi whose hyperlink you can find in the name of the app above.

Wycherley’s Country Wife: What’s In a Name?

They say that the eyes are the window to the soul, but when it comes to literary characters names are the written equivalent. Perhaps nowadays in a world where most celebrities have unknowingly entered themselves into a “weirdest baby name” competition, names have taken on a different purpose and reasoning.

 The modern state of naming, whether it be in the literary sense or not, is questionable. However back in the days of yore (for the sake of this post the Restoration period), names in literary works had a multitude of wonderful functions.

 William Wycherley’s The Country Wife is a standout example when it comes to the multi-functionality of character names. These character’s names perform two major functions:

 1. to illuminate the character’s true nature

2.  to inspire humor within the reader

One of the main characters (he might even be our antagonist…that’s up for debate), Mr. Horner, is one of the most obvious illustrations of these functions. His surname is explicitly tied to his inclination towards debauchery, as the main plot point for the play is Horner’s rumor-fueled quest to  conquer every one of his friend’s wives. As Martha Fletcher Bellinger writes in her article on Restoration drama

The heroes of the Restoration comedies were lively gentlemen of the city, profligates and loose livers, with a strong tendency to make love to their neighbors’ wives.”


In plain terms, our main character is a rakish man who is “horny” and certainly potent, though his male counterparts are led to believe otherwise. So, Horner’s name performs both of the functions we defined; it illustrates his intentions in an obvious way and that in itself fulfills the second function. The blunt nature of his name is what contributes to the humor surrounding it, as despite the repetition of his surname by the various characters he interacts with (combined with his questionable actions), they all remain more or less oblivious. 


Horner makes his intentions towards women very clear from the beginning. In Act I, Scene I he tells the quack, “Doctor, a good name is seldom got by giving it one’s self, and Women no more than honor are compassed by bragging.” In other words, Horner is a by-product of his reputation just as women are. Yes, his surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin and comes from those who make musical instruments, but in Wycherley’s play Horner is Horner because it is, simply put, his nature. The Restoration period is defined by its obsession with wit and nature (of the human variety), and Wycherley harnesses both of these concepts within The Country Wife.


Another possibility regarding the significance of Horner’s name is that it is a reference to the devil himself. Considering that Restoration literature is a rebellion against the staunch restrictions imposed by Puritan rule, Wycherley naming one of his main characters after Satan is an ironic throwback to more pious days. Horner…horny…horned? No need to leap very far to get to that one!


Another character from Wycherley’s comedy of manners is Pinchwife, and boy is his name full of sad, sad truth. Pinchwife is newly married to Margery, an “innocent” country girl, and he fears that his friends will steal her away from him therefore rendering him a lowly cuckold.

Pinchwife’s attitude towards his wife (really, just women in general) and his tendency towards violence is hidden within his surname. This exchange between Horner and Pinchwife in Act I, Scene I speaks to his unsavory and undesirable nature:

Horner: But tell me, has Marriage cured thee of whoring?

Pinchwife: Well, Gentlemen, you may laugh at me, but I know the Town. 

Horner: But prithee, was not the way you were in better than Marriage? 

Pinchwife: A Pox on it, the Jades would jilt me.  I could never keep a Whore to myself.

Pinchwife’s name denotes two possible interpretations, both wholly valid and telling. The first is that as a bachelor he cannot keep a whore and he can barely even “pinch” a wife, taking to the country to find an innocent girl who will marry him. The dialogue between Horner and Pinchwife is dripping with sarcasm, as Pinchwife is not in any way a “lady’s man” like his male counterpart. Horner uses this as ammunition and fires metaphorically at Pinchwife knowing that it will only bother him further.

Another way to construe the name Pinchwife is as a reference to his violent nature. Though his name is quite lighthearted and even humorous, his empty threats point towards darker realities. One of these many empty threats can be found in Act IV, Scene II:

Pinchwife:  Write as I bid you, or I will write “Whore”with this knife in your Face.

These numerous empty threats made by Pinchwife, while not fulfilled, also reveal what it was life was like for women during this period. Women were practically powerless and what power they did wield was gifted to them in the form of reputation. Pinchwife threatening to carve “whore” into Margery’s face is 17th century domestic violence coupled with the possibility of crippling his spouse’s livelihood. And any hope she might have of marrying someone who actually loves her and doesn’t try to mutilate her.

As previously mentioned, the two major functions of naming are to illuminate a character’s true nature and to inspire humor within the reader. As far as Pinchwife is concerned, the first function is absolutely met however the second function is not as successful as with Horner. Sure, Pinchwife’s sad-sack status with women is comical in conjunction with the banter of the other men however the emphasis is less on humor in his case. 

With the Restoration author’s obsession with the classics in mind, it only makes sense that the names of the characters within their works would be meaningful and complimentary to the themes and motifs of the play. Horner and Pinchwife’s names are much more than something to call them, they are a brilliant device utilized by Wycherley to embody these themes and motifs in a literal sense. Horner and Pinchwife, with their qualms about women and marriage, are called Horner and Pinchwife to illustrate their complex relationship with these ideas. Wycherley’s The Country Wife is a bawdy representation of life during the Restoration period and the characters that dwell within play a major role in portraying how human nature is flawed and in turn humorous.

Bellinger, Martha Fletcher. “Restoration Drama.” Theatre History. Web. 13 Feb. 2016. <http://www.theatrehistory.com/british/restoration_drama_001.html&gt;.
The Country Wife. Digital image. Palm Beach State College News Center. Palm Beach State College, 13 Oct. 2015. Web. 13 Feb. 2016.
Wycherley, William. “The Country Wife.” The Country Wife (1675). Winthrop University. Web. 13 Feb. 2016. <http://faculty.winthrop.edu/vorderbruegg/winthropweb/current/scripts/CountryWife–acting%20version–revised.pdf&gt;.