How does the social criticism of Oliver Goldsmith compare to that of Jonathan Swift?  

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Both Swift and Goldsmith criticized the hard-heartedness of British society's treatment of the poor. Swift, however, criticized the lack of compassion with harsh, biting satire. For example, the narrator of "A Modest Proposal" proposes that the starving Irish fatten and sell their year-old babies to rich English lords in Ireland as gourmet table delicacies, since the English refuse to help the Irish in any other way. This kind of social criticism was shocking—and continues to shock to this day. It uses a negative example to make its point: nobody would want to be like the clueless narrator who was so inhumane as to recommend cannibalism as a solution to the problem of poverty. This negative example, Swift hoped, would encourage sensible people to devise more humane solutions to human suffering.

Goldsmith, in contrast, is much more gently humorous in his social critique. In his "The Character of the Man in Black," he shows how much more our deeds matter than our words by using the...

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