Compare and contrast Swift's and Pope's satire.   Thank you!

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Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Your question about Swift and Pope could take pages to answer.  I have to narrow it down to even take a try at it.  I'll do so by dealing with Swift's "A Modest Proposal" and Pope's The Rape of the Lock.  Here goes:

Swift's satire is Juvenalian:  nasty and bitter, his targets are terrible human beings.  Pope's is Horatian:  light, humorous, more indulgent of people's shortcomings.

Swift's primary literary device is irony.  From the title, which is anything but modest, to thoughts expressed such as the speaker not being able to think of a single objection to his proposal, irony dominates the essay.  Pope's is ironic, too, but it is mock epic.  He presents the trivial as if it were epic.  It's imitation epic, in its form.

Swift's is in essay form.  Pope's is in the form of a narrative, an epic poem.

Swift's main purpose is to cause social and political change.  Pope's is to poke fun and entertain.

Both works are satirical, both are neoclassical, both are highly stylistic.  The above points, though, should help you contrast the two.

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Gulliver's Travels

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