Two texts that portray food to lack comfort and nourishment are Text 21 – The extract “Act V Scene II and Act V Scene III”, from one of William Shakespeare’s earliest tragedy’s from 1590 “Titus Andronicus”, and text 22 – An extract from the beginning of “The Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift published in 1729. The purpose of Text 21 is to entertain the reader. It is mainly aimed at adults and fans William Shakespeare. Similarly, text 22 is also meant to entertain the reader.
However, even though text 22 could be considered to have an entertainment factor, text 22 is a satirical essay which is argumentative and a rhetorical social commentary, on a solution to the problem of hunger in Ireland in the 18th century.
It is mainly aimed at Government and politicians as well as both the rich public of the 18th century. Text 21 is structured in chronological order. It starts with the scene, where Titus reveals the characters Murder and Rape to be Chiron and Demetrius respectively.
Then Titus re-enters with Lavinia and reveals all the wrong that these two people have done to him and his family.
This is to remind the audience what has happened in the play and, to evoke sympathy for Lavinia and Titus, and to feel hatred toward Chiron and Demetrius. Titus uses monosyllabic lexis which is short and direct such as “Come, come”. This hints that the speech he is about to give is spontaneous, and it also shows that he doesn’t think he needs to be formal and speak with any respect to the villains. This is different to text 22 as text 22 has long complex sentences with lots of polysyllabic words and punctuation. This makes the text sound formal and educated, because the intended audience was the higher class people of society.
The speech has complex sentences mixed with simple ones. For example, “villains for shame you could not beg for grace”. This is to help the audience feel the pace, and to allow the actor to slow down slightly to catch his breath. Titus then addresses the villains directly, divulging how he is going to kill them, and bake them into a pastry, and serve it to their mother to eat. The manner in which he reveals his plans is almost like a recipe. He goes through each step methodically. He talks about how he will prepare the ‘dish’—“I will grind your bones to dust”, “with your blood and it I’ll make a paste”.
These phrases create disturbing vivid images in the readers and audiences minds. This shows that food and what they are made of aren’t always nourishing. This is very similar to text 22. In text 22 the author, Jonathan Swift, suggests that to stop the children being a burden to their families and their country, people should eat children and use the hides of children to craft gloves and boots. Again the detailed methodical step by step guide on how to achieve this is akin to how Titus in text 21 tells the villains how he is going to kill them.
Again this vivid description is to help the audience and readers imagine he gruesome acts that are about to be performed. This only enhances the fact that the food might not be a source of comfort or nourishment. In text 21, during Act V Scene III when Titus is encouraging them to eat “Will’t please you eat? ” is creating dramatic irony, as the audience knows what the pasties are made of but, the characters don’t. The audience will feel nauseated watching the actors eat pies which have human flesh and bones. This only enhances the fact that food is not always a source of nourishment.
Text 21 uses archaic language. This is associated with the date of its productions and reception. Also his intended audience was of the 16th century. Text 22 also uses archaic language but is a bit more modern than text 21. Text 1 has words such as “coffin”, which meant pastry in the old days but now it is like a foreshadowing of their deaths. Also phrases such as, “Like to the earth swallow her own increase” is again painting vivid images in the audiences and readers heads. It is referring to the fact that she will bury her children in her stomach.
This again shows that food is not always a source of nourishment because she is eating the carcass of her own children. This is similar to text 22, where it is suggested that a “young healthy child well nursed” is a “most delicious nourishing and wholesome food”. This makes the readers feel repulsed at the concept of the flesh of humans, let alone children. This only further supports that fact that food is not always a source of nourishment. Also, the author suggests that the parents themselves could eat their own children if the need arose and, the carcass of the child could make “admiral gloves” and “summer boots”.
This shows that food is not always a source of comfort, as people eat so that they may have a comfortable life with plenty of food and clothes, however, butchering your kids to give you that lifestyle is atrocious and the parents. Or any person would gain any comfort from the meal or clothes. The first paragraph of text 21 is similar to stock taking of the goods or cattle. The word “breeders” is used to suggest that we should treat children as animals. The paragraph is all calculations, about how many children are born annually and, how much each would be worth at each age.
The use of mathematical lexis such as “subtract” and “calculate” shows how ridiculous this solution is and only adds to the satirical aspect of the essay. Also, phrases like “I am assured by our merchants” and “assured by a very knowing American” suggests that he has done his research. All of this adds to the very sarcastic tone of the whole text. Even though, the readers will be able to recognise that the whole text is meant as a satirical essay, the idea will still repulse people and show them that food can not always be nourishing. However, the mention of actually baking people and serving them to guests is genuine.
This shows that the ingredients in foods do not always provide nourishment or comfort. In conclusion, text 21 shows food is not always a source of comfort or nourishment as pasties with human flesh is served to guest at a dinner party. Similarly, in text 22 children is compared to cattle, as in using the children as a source of food. Even though this is similar to the concept in text 21, the author in text 22 is being sarcastic and mocking the government about the poverty in Ireland, unlike in text 21, where human meat was served at a meal. So, text 22 shows that some foods are not always a source of comfort or nourishing.