The most striking feature of Swift’s work is its brilliant sense of humor. The gloomy subject matter of poverty alleviation in Ireland is presented within a veneer of dark humor. It also has elements of satire and sarcasm – directed against intellectuals who supported the Monarchy’s actions. It adopts the essay format for serious academic discourse but in a spoofy fashion. There are numerous references to economists, intellectuals and scholars from other disciplines. This way, Swift was trying to create credibility to what is essentially his personal viewpoint. It is a very clever artistic tactic with its own brand of subtle humor. In fact, it is the humor content which is largely responsible for the enduring appeal and fame of the work. If the issue of poverty reduction in Ireland was addressed in a straight forward manner as academic criteria would require, then the pamphlet would have hardly gained an audience. In contrast, my own humble work is largely devoid of humor despite attempts to the contrary. It is perhaps a testimony to the gap in the creative talents of the two authors. Although I tried to maintain a light-hearted tone for my essay, it had not materialized as I kept focus on the primary task, namely, to propose adoption of public transportation system as against the widespread usage of cars. When I did try to induce humor into some passages, they appeared to weaken or lighten up my argument. So I decided against this ploy. My difficulties further reinforce the genius of Swift, who was able to address a topic of grave concern in the most outrageously humorous fashion.
The lengths of the two works are also different. While Swift’s masterpiece is an essay running to more than two thousand words, my modest imitation totals less than a thousand. This is a measure of the thoroughness and robustness of argument articulated by Swift in relation to my own. Swift approaches the issue from various angles and satisfactorily offers solutions (in the logical sense and not a humanitarian sense) to commonly occurring problems. But, in the end, despite the differences in analytic rigor, range and breadth of research, literary richness, flourish and humor, there is a key similarity between the two essays. It is that they both address a pressing social problem that needs an urgent and lasting remedy.
In terms of offering a constructive solution though, with due respect to Jonathan Swift, I would argue that my essay does a better job. While converting babies into delicious food items is an idea meant to provoke outrage, my proposal for reducing economic distress and also simultaneously saving the environment is both plausible and feasible. It is a different matter, of course, whether my idea will see light of day. But if the audience in this hall all assent then we’ve made a start!