Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal

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A satire uses irony or sarcasm to make a point. Many authors use satire to bring society’s attention to political, social, or economic problems in a somewhat humorous way. Some authors even use satire in an attempt to correct the religious practices of the society. Satire is an effective way to highlight problems because it is non-threatening but it grabs the attention of the reader. Jonathan Swift wrote his satirical essay “A Modest Proposal” to bring attention to the political, economic, and social problems of Ireland in 1729.

For many years, England, and later the United Kingdom, controlled Ireland. This imperialism started when the Irish king lost part of his kingdom in 1169 and asked for help from the Normans, who were French-speaking people who then controlled England. To thank the Normans for their help, the king of Ireland gave his daughter in marriage to Strongbow, the Norman king. Strongbow then became king over Ireland, and the English have controlled Ireland ever since. It was not until the late fifthteenth and early sixteenth centuries that England started to exercise its full control over Ireland. In gaining control over the island, the English “drove the Irish leaders from Ireland” (Arthurton). During this time a process called “plantation” was introduced in Ireland. According to the journal “Experience England,” to plantation was when “…England took land and property from Catholic Irish landowners and gave them to English settlers who were Protestant.” This forced the Irish men and women to become tenant farmers for the British landowners, making barely enough money to feed their families (Arthurton).

When England had a civil war in the 1640s the Irish Catholics took one side. On the other side was the Protest...

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Swift, Jonathan. "A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People in

Ireland From Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and or Making Them Beneficial to the Public." The Norton Anthology. Eighth Edition. Ed. Greenblatt, Stephen. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006. 1114-1119.
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