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"Oh,Sweet Irony" / A Comparison/Contrast Paper About The Ironies In Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" And Susan Glaspell's "Trifles"

1448 words - 6 pages

Oh, Sweet Irony"A Modest Proposal" (1729) by Jonathan Swift relates one man's facetious point of view on the state of Ireland's impoverished. Swift offers a solution to the problem by suggesting that the overpopulation conundrum can by solved by indulging in the flesh of the nation's underprivileged infants. Susan Glaspell's Trifles (1916) depicts an early twentieth century murder-mystery and the role that two women take in solving the mystery during a time when a woman's and opinion held no credibility or esteem. While Swift's satirical piece incorporates an ironic tone in the form of sarcasm and shock, Glaspell presents the use of irony primarily through the actions and dialogue of the ...view middle of the document...

"...I rather recommend buying the children alive, and dressing them hot from the knife as we do roasting pigs" (49), Swift states, in an obvious extensive use of sarcasm.Through his word choice as well as his complex sentence structure, Swift comes across as a very well-educated man. Such an intelligent writer could not possibly subscribe to such a preposterous proposal. "A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends; and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter" (48). Perhaps, through his overuse of sarcasm, Swift simply wishes to illustrate to the English Parliamentary of the time that the state of Ireland is poor and decrepit. By offering such an ironic idea as a solution to the problem of the country's diseased and malnourished children, Swift hopes to bring about change in the general treatment of Ireland's lower-class. Swift also states that he has no intentions of participating in this plan himself. "I profess, in the sincerity of my heart, that I have not the least personal interest in endeavoring to promote this necessary work, having no other motive than the public good of my country, by advancing our trade, providing for infants, relieving the poor, and giving some pleasure to the rich" (52). If Swift's so-called "modest" proposal is so fool-proof, then why does he not wish to lead the way in eating the youth of the nation? How ironic that such an intelligent man who suggests this proposal in such a serious manner will not participate in his own demoralized scheme.While "A Modest Proposal's" irony consists primarily of filet-cut sarcasm, Susan Glaspell's Trifles uses irony in a different light. An alternate definition states that irony is "A condition of affairs or events of a character opposite to what was, or might naturally be, expected; a contradictory outcome of events as if in mockery of the promise and fitness of things" (OED online). When Trifles was written in the early twentieth century, women did not have much of a voice in society, especially when men were present. Perhaps this is why Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters solved the murder-mystery while the men were not present in the action. As the play progresses, the two women become increasingly aware of more and more clues as to the solution to the motive. "Mrs. Peters, look at this one...and look at the sewing! All the rest of it has been so nice and even. And look at this! It's all over the place! Why, it looks as if she didn't know what she was about!" (Glaspell 65), Mrs. Hale exclaims as she discovers a clue. With each advancing clue however, the women decide to keep to themselves the newly discovered information. Is this a plea to protect the accused Mrs. Wright, or simply the action of women knowing their place and role...

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