Essay about A Modest Proposal By Jonathan Swift

Essay about A Modest Proposal By Jonathan Swift

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In eighteenth century Ireland, the nation was in a famine and an epidemic of poverty due to the high prices of land and food. Jonathan Swift saw a problem, so h wrote and spread what we call today, A Modest Proposal. Swift’s essay is satirical. He exaggerates and gives inaccurate statistics to deliver a thesis that runs deeper than the explicit one about eating babies. While much of the essay seems to imply that Swift’s persona eats babies, there are some instances where Jonathan hints at the ironic themes of the writing.
For the first two paragraphs, Jonathan builds himself up. He explains how the poor people and children of Ireland are an issue that needs solving. The first example of satire that one could point out is at the end of only paragraph two. While the essay is titled A Modest Proposal, the sentence states that a man who solves the abundance of poor children would deserve to “have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation”. This sentence not only dictates the modest mood of the essay, it exaggerates the importance of the “issue” at hand.
The way that the argument is introduced gives another thought of this text being satirical. Swift leads with “I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food [...].” While eating babies is radical and hard to take as serious in itself, Swift introduces the idea by quoting his friend, who has no name. An anonymous passage that quotes an anonymous American should mean nothing. Using an “acquaintance” to provide an example about a topic as bizarre as eating children, makes the essay incredible. This intentional incredibility is almost...


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...t’s time, A Modest Proposal was taken as serious by the audience of rich men. It caused some hysteria and confusion in upper class communities. Imagine reading an anonymous work which promotes cannibalism! Swift eventually had to reveal himself and his purpose of his pamphlet, which was to exaggerate the steps necessary to stop the Irish famine and poverty epidemic. A Modest Proposal is almost a scare tactic. It brings attention to the distances people will go to stop hunger and homelessness. The audience of rich, land-owning men were planned to take the text to heart. It should shock them into lowering taxes and decreasing the cost of shelter. Jonathan Swift uses irony and sarcasm to hint at his essay not being serious, and uses his writing skill to try and solve a serious problem. And of course, the solution Swift is actually looking for, is not about eating babies.

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