A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift

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Any change to spare? To roam the streets of Ireland is to walk through a country full of depression, as this is one of the commonly asked questions by the many beggars on its streets. It is the combination of the English, the overpopulation and the prosperous landowners of Ireland that are the cause of the poverty and melancholy of the population. The appalling economic and social conditions that deprive the Irish prevent them from providing sufficient care for both themselves and their children. Many parents, unable to work for their honest sources of revenue, are forced to employ all of their time panhandling for alms. Meanwhile, their children grow up to become thieves or emigrants. Author Jonathon Swift, has proposed a “modest” solution to this on-going problem. In his satirical essay “A Modest Proposal,” Swift effectively argues that the Irish deserve better treatment from the English while suggesting to his readers, in a humorous manner, that the impoverished country should alleviate their monetary and societal issues by selling their children as food and clothing to the wealthy. Swift does this by utilizing a satirical tone while also using verbal irony and pathos to make his point. In “A Modest Proposal,” Swift employs a satirical tone to mock both the callous attitudes towards the poor and the poor themselves. Swifts “modest” solution to the fiscal and social issues going on in Ireland is nothing but the opposite, as he proposes that the impoverished should sell their infants as food for money. In using the word “modest” to describe his proposal of eating Irish infants and/or offering their flesh as a source of clothing, Swift makes the sarcasm of his story evident from the beginning. By using such an inconspicu... ... middle of paper ... ...erprivileged mothers who strive to take care of their children but do not have the resources to do so. Lastly, Swift states that for want of work, the children of the impoverished Irish “either turn thieves, or leave their dear native country, to fight for the Pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to Barbados.” Swift makes the reader feel sympathy towards the impoverished children who are forced to make a living for themselves by any means necessary at a young age. Swift’s use of gripping word choice to describe the living conditions of the impoverished Irish effectively puts both emphasis and pity on their situation while also making the reader despise those who do not care about the poor. Swift, having a child of his own, is not really advocating the termination of children; rather he is supporting and aiming for the fair treatment of the impoverished Irish.

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