British Imperialism in James Joyce's "The Dead" and Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal".

Essay by superclownUniversity, Bachelor'sA, April 2003

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The relationship shared between Ireland and its imperialistic patriarch England, has been a long and tumultuous one. Throughout centuries of British rule, millions of Irish citizens have suffered at the hands of the English, causing an air of unrest which continues to exist today. As is often the case with high profile struggles, literature has played an important role in both encouraging and condemning the circumstances in which the people of Ireland are forced to live. While examining the hostility which exists within Ireland, many authors have also shed a light on the Irish people's rich culture and unique beliefs, key aspects which makes the island such a fascinating country to profile. Several different approaches have been taken when analyzing the plight of the Irish people, but few have been quite as effective as the use biting satire found in Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" and the use of subtle irony and realism within the intricately developed character studies which dominate James Joyce's "The Dead". What makes both of these works so fascinating, is the method in which they examine Ireland's relationship with Britain, while highlighting the contradictions which exist within each nation's beliefs.

Jonathan Swift was one of the greatest satirists of his time, or possibly of all time, thanks in part to his uncanny ability to point out the absurdity of society through the use of thinly veiled satirical extremes. "A Modest Proposal" has remained a favourite of literary scholars, for almost 280 years, thanks in part to the ingenious method in which it was presented. In order to provide his own unique brand of social commentary, Swift chose the same tract format in which many "straightforward" political essays about the plight of Ireland were often distributed. This method of distribution ensured that...