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Jonathan Swift

In "Predictions for the year 1708" and "The Accomplishment of the First of Mr. Bickerstaff's Predictions," Jonathan Swift lashed out at Partridge, the Almanac-Maker, and astrology in general. By using a variety of satirical techniques, such as incongruity, sarcasm and exaggeration, Swift captured the deception of almanac-makers who pretended to make accurate predictions of the forthcoming year in their annual publications. The satire works even more successfully because of its realism: Swift imitated the writing style of a rival maker of Partridge (Mayhew 278). Furthermore, Swift literally stabbed at the heart of astrology by predicting the death of Partridge and then consolidated his "death" in the subsequent piece, "Accomplishment," in a deliberate attempt to play a joke on him (Mayhew 276-278).

A versatile satirist, Swift considered it his duty to attack signs of "sin and folly" (qtd. in Mayhew 271). In "Predictions," under the guise of his creation, Mr. Bickerstaff, Swift pinpointed the vagueness and ambivalence of the almanac-makers' predictions that could be interpreted as accurate in any circumstance. For example, according to Bickerstaff, a prediction such as "This Month a certain great Person will be threatened with Death, or Sickness," did not require any astrological skills since there were many old distinguished people who were bound to die during the "sickliest Season of the Year" (Swift 427). Furthermore, it is also likely that Swift targeted the almanac-makers because of their important position in the eyes of rich and prominent Gentlemen in the country. These gentlemen who held the reins of power in Parliament actually anticipated the occurrences of public events by using these almanacs. Others allowed their engagements to be dictated by the predictions (Swift 427). In "Accomplishment," Swift directly unveiled the lies and treachery of almanac-makers with Partridge's "confession" on his deathbed. According to Partri...

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Jonathan Swift. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 02:46, April 02, 2023, from