Heart Of Darkness And Modest Proposal

Colonization in the Theme of "A Modest Proposal" and "Heart of

Darkness" Starting at the beginning of the seventeenth century, European
countries began exploring and colonizing many different areas of the world. The
last half of the nineteenth century saw the height of European colonial power
around the globe. France, Belgium, Germany, and especially Great Britain,
controlled over half the world. Along with this achievement came a notable sense
of pride and confident belief that European civilization was the best on earth
and that the natives of the lands Europeans controlled would only benefit from
colonial influence. However, not everybody saw colonization as positive for all
those involved. Some of the most notable writers of the time produced works
criticizing the process of colonization. Two of the most significant works in
this area are Joseph Conrad’s "Heart of Darkness" and Jonathan

Swift’s "A Modest Proposal." Although these pieces of literature
both criticize colonization, they have different themes. The theme of "A

Modest Proposal" could be described as the negative effects of colonization
on the colonized, while the central idea in "Heart of Darkness" is the
negative effects of colonization on both the colonized and the colonizers. The
differences in these themes are significant to the strategies used by the
authors to explore the adverse effects of colonization. Swift makes great use of
irony and imagery, to accentuate the plight of the Irish. Conrad comments on the
frightening changes that people involved with colonization can go through by
exploring character development and detailing a narrative of oppression. Swift
uses irony in "A Modest Proposal" because it allows him to highlight
the emotional detachment felt by the colonizing British towards the Irish. It is
this emotional detached feeling that lead to the atrocities committed against
the Irish citizens. The irony in "A Modest Proposal" is evident right
in the title. There is certainly nothing "modest" about the
"proposal" of eating the infants of impoverished Irish citizens. The
irony accentuates how cruel and uncompassionate the powerful British

Imperialists were, towards the destitute Irish population. The reader must
realize that "Swift is operating independently of the narrator in a covert
manner" (Phiddian 607). He develops the persona of the proposer to say
exactly the opposite of what he feels. While the proposer suggests eating poor

Irish children is particularly proper at "merry meetings, particularly
weddings and christenings," this could not be further from the opinion of

Swift. Nor does Swift actually believe that this plan will "increase the
care and tenderness of mothers toward their children." (NA 1052) Moreover,
the whole topic of cannibalism, is discussed with tongue in cheek and is meant
to suggest that the British were devouring the Irish. Images of cruelty and evil
put, forward by the narrator, weigh heavily in the theme of "A Modest

Proposal." Throughout the pamphlet, the reader is bombarded with disturbing
imagery of Irish people and their children being treated like livestock raised
for consumption. The narrator refers to the parents of the children as
"savages" (NA 1050) and "breeders" (NA 1051) and
"dams" (NA 1048). Then he compares the children to "roasting
pigs" (NA 1050) and continues as if he were writing a cook book. He speaks
of how delicious he thinks these infants would be "whether stewed, roasted,
baked or boiled" (NA 1049) or served in a "fricassee or a ragout"
(NA 1049). He describes how the "carcasses" (NA 1050) of these babies
could be nicely seasoned with "a little pepper or salt" (NA 1050) and
"will be in season throughout the year" (NA 1050). Flaying the carcass
and using the skin of these babies to make "admirable gloves for ladies,
and summer boots for fine gentlemen" (NA 1050) is another suggestion he
puts forward. He expands beyond just slaughtering the infants for food and
leather products by suggesting the possibility of hunting the adolescents for
sport. He dismisses this idea because he imagines the flesh of the adolescents
would be too tough for eating and because hunting them would reduce the breeding
stock. He also has concerns that "some scrupulous people might be apt to
censure such a practice (although indeed very unjustly) as a little bordering on
cruelty" (NA 1051). All of the gruesome imagery used in "A Modest

Proposal" has earned it the reputation of being one of Swift’s most
potent attacks in his "war on a class of civilized people who often behave
like animals" (McMinn 149). Joseph Conrad details a narrative of oppression
emphasizing the horrible treatment of African natives during the colonization of
the Congo. The Europeans claimed that they were trying to civilize