Analysis of A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift

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This essay by Jonathan Swift is a brutal satire in which he suggests that the poor Irish families should kill their young children and eat them in order to eliminate the growing number of starving citizens. At this time is Ireland, there was extreme poverty and wide gap between the poor and the rich, the tenements and the landlords, respectively. Throughout the essay Swift uses satire and irony as a way to attack the indifference between classes. Swift is not seriously suggesting cannibalism, he is trying to make known the desperate state of the lower class and the need for a social and moral reform in Ireland. Jonathan Smith goes to extreme measures to explain his new plan to raise the economic wellbeing of his country. He explains what age is too young and what age is too old, in order to eat the tenants children when they are at their prime juiciness. He also gives a list of suggestions on how to cook them, ?A young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled, and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee, or a ragout.? All of this talk about eating children comes as a surprise because previous to this disturbing suggestion, Swift is ironically discussing the plight of starving beggars in Ireland. The reader is unprepared for the solution that he suggests. The idea of eating all the youth in the country is obviously self-defeating and is not being seriously suggested by the writer. He is simply trying to show how desperate the lower class is in Ireland. Swift introduces the reforms he is actually suggesting, taxing absentee landlords, of encouraging the domestic economy by buying Irish goods, of discouraging pride, vanity, idleness, by dismissing them in his essay by saying that they are impractical. However, these reforms greatly differ from his ?modest proposal? because instead of the poor sacrificing their children, it would involve the rich sacrificing some of their luxuries. He is trying to point out the fact that reforms that would be practical and beneficial to the people of Ireland are being overlooked for the convenience of the rich.

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