Class Distinction (Wells and Swift)

In the book, a modest proposal, the writer believes that there is a need to control populations to alleviate poverty. He has placed the people of that place into two classes the rich and the poor the later is believed to be the main contributor to the increased poverty levels within the kingdom. The author believed that the poor gave birth to children who they could not maintain and thus becoming a burden. He states that for the poor people to survive they had to beg instead of making an honest living and their children would just follow suit.

In the book the time traveler there are several individuals involved the provisional Mayor,  a psychologist, a medical man, Filby and the time traveler. The time traveler builds his machine and travels through time and in his travel he notices the moral erosion taking place in the future. He explains this by noticing how women’s clothing is getting loose as time went by this goes to show how people are just destroying their society’s moral fabric as a whole.

It can be seen that these two writers are using the same class distinction even though they use different groups they still reach the same conclusions about societies for instance, poverty and moral degradation in the two books respectively. In a modest proposal, the writer suggests how to deal with the population problem hence the title of the book. He proposes that the poor women in the society should only keep their babies until they are 1 year old. The reason for this is as a friend researcher told him that well fed babies who are  nourished by their mothers until a year can make a nutritious meal; however, they are cooked. Thus, the author suggests that these babies be sold to the rich people for food. This can be made to relate with the time travelers own story where he saw people going to a central place to escape bombing this just goes to show how man within his classes can be easily manipulated given the benefits of what they should do.

In the book, a modest proposal, the society has been divided into two the poor and the rich. This can be compared by the two classes in the traveler’s future where he notices human beings are divided into two groups the Morlocks and Eloi. The Morlocks are the ruling elite who control the Eloi in all their life aspects. The Eloi here are obviously the lower in rank, and their greatest concern is to have fun.  In a modest proposal, the babies are to be fed by their mothers and sold to the rich folk as food. This goes to show the rich folk dominance over the poor since they will be able to keep their babies while the poor will not.

The rich have the capacity to raise their babies, and since the poor cannot  they lose the chance and sell theirs for food to earn some money and earn a living, making this their actual job. In class distinction, this can be related to the time machine where the the Morlocks entirely dominate the Elois to a point where the Elois follow their every whim. For instance, the Morlocks trained the Elois  to match to underground bunkers to protect them from bombings. The Elois follow this training so well that they effectively react to sirens by matching to the bunkers.  These bunkers are actually the Morlocks underground homes, so when they get in the Elois are trapped and eaten by the Morlocks.  Both of these books may refer to the people in this society as the actual wealth of the same society where one class provides for the other. The situation here though may be more than that; this is because the social classes in the two groups are divided into two. This means that one group or social class will provide for the other, in this case the weaker or disadvantaged class will obviously be the ones providing for the stronger more endowed class. This can be seen where the poor are asked to sell their children to the rich, and in return they earn some money, and they will ensure constant food supply. In the other book, the Morlocks train the Elois so that they respond to some siren by marching towards a central area where they are picked for food. Thus, the Morlocks are guaranteed food by feeding on the Elois. In these two social classes, the superior classes dominate the inferior classes by using their ignorance against them for their own selfish gains.

In conclusion, both the Wells and Swift used class distinction in a similar fashion. They both divided the society into two groups; the reason for this was to bring about the distinction between these two classes in their stories. In the time machine by H G Wells, the author has grouped the society into two classes the Morlocks and Elois. He goes ahead to show how the Morlocks take advantage on the Elois Ignorance. In the Modest proposal by Swift, the author breaks down the society into two groups the rich and the poor. The poor are asked to sell their babies to the rich people as a solution to poverty caused by an increase in population.


Baker, Donald C. (1957). Tertullian and Swift’s A Modest Proposal. The Classical Journal, 52,     200–220.

Mackenzie, Norman & Jeanne. (1973). The Time Traveller-The Life of H.G. Wells. London: Weidenfield and Nicolson.

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