A Modest Proposal, by Jonathan Swift Essay

A Modest Proposal, by Jonathan Swift Essay

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Irony is a beautiful technique exercised to convey a message or call a certain group of people to action. This rhetorical skill is artfully used by Jonathan Swift in his pamphlet “A Modest Proposal.” The main argument for this bitingly ironic essay is to capture the attention of a disconnected and indifferent audience. Swift makes his point by stringing together a dreadfully twisted set of morally untenable positions in order to cast blame and aspersions on his intended audience. Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” employs despicably vivid satire to call for change in a world of abuse and misfortune.
The entire proposal stands as a satire in itself; an analogy paralleling the tyrannical attitude of the British toward their Irish counterparts. In short, Swift suggests that parents of Ireland are owned by the British, and babies are property of their parents, therefore, England has a right to consume the Irish babies. Swift uses this syllogism throughout to show the British that their despotic reign in Ireland has left the miserable nation in poverty and disarray without any type of sustainable economy. Swift writes, “Some persons of a desponding nature are in great concern.” This is not simply a concern over the number of poor and malnourished in the country as Swift writes in the text; rather it is an ironic illustration of the Irish nation in shambles. The British have reigned over the Irish so long and so cruelly that they have left Ireland in a state of dependence psychologically, politically, and economically. In other words, the “ideology of Protestant consumption” has “actually eroded” the self-confidence and sense of worth of the Irish so badly that it has left Ireland unable to sustain itself (Mahoney). The “young heal...


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...posal is used to tell Ireland it must find a way to reduce the affluence of England and discover a solution to the issues that they face, alone, in order to cultivate long-term prosperity.
Swift exemplifies how to use irony to challenge the issues facing early 18th century Britain and Ireland. An ingenious weaving of appalling imagery and indefensible argument effectively divulge a clear message to his readers that changes must be made in the prejudicial and dysfunctional society in which they live. British domination is confronted and Irish ineptitude is thrust into the spotlight of this satirical work. No longer can the wealthy act arrogantly unaware and intimidating; nor can the Irish population remain withdrawn in the shadows of oppression. The devastating irony of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” attacks injustice and reveals a path to a united kingdom.

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