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The words popish and papists are offensive terms used to show scorn for Roman...

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noconnectionwse | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted February 19, 2012 at 3:16 AM via web

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The words popish and papists are offensive terms used to show scorn for Roman Catholics. Irish Catholics eat fish during Lent. Why...?

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The words popish and papists are offensive terms used to show scorn for Roman Catholics. Irish Catholics eat fish during Lent. Why does the persona say that infant's flesh will be plentiful in March??

The persona discusses an idea that older children be used by gentlemen as a substitute for venison (deer meat taken by hunting), but he rejects it due to the toughness of boys' flesh and other reasons. What does he suspect "scrupulous" people might think??

Why do you think Swift wrote such a shocking proposal as this after having written such serious proposals before??

The persona schedules his plan to "provide for" children at the age of one year. Why does this make the proposal better than having children make their living by stealing, according to the persona??

Why does the persona say selling twelve-year-olds is a bad idea??

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 19, 2012 at 3:32 AM (Answer #1)

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A Modest Proposal, like many other works of Jonathan Swift, was a satire. He didn’t really think people should eat babies. He was using an outrageous idea to try to make people realize just how desperate the poverty in Ireland was. All of the realistic details in the proposal were intended to emphasize the religious and national issues involved.

Lent is a time of fasting for many Christians, including Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglicans. Eating fish during Lent is a shorthand for not eating meat, in other words a form of renunciation.

The terms “popish” and “papist” were common pejorative terms in the period and emphasized the main objection by British Protestants against Romanism, namely that the Pope, as ruler of the Papal States (through the early 20th century) was not only a religious but a national political leader, and thus to follow him (given that England was often at war with allies of the Papal States) was treason.

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