“A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift takes place in Dublin Ireland in the 18th century. The narrator is a very ironic character. His “modest” proposal is anything but modest. This short story takes place during a famine. Since there was a famine, Swift proposes the idea that people sell their one year old children to the rich so they would not be a burden to their family.
One important way in which the author engages the audience’s attention and tries to help his readers see deeper political, moral, and social truths and problems is through his use of irony. “A Modest Proposal” is a satire that is aimed at helping Swift’s contemporary readers to recognize how cold and calculating blunt rationalism is when used to address social problems such as poverty and overpopulation. In this short story the narrator is an ironic person. He is an ironic character because he appears to be blind to the awful moral suggestion of his proposals. The narrator’s proposal favors economic progress rather than showing any concern for the people he was talking about. This ironic narrator would make statements that would appear to be purely economic without seeming to realize the awful nature of his statements (Shmoop Editorial Team “A Modest Proposal Analysis”).
His “modest” proposal is anything but modest. It is savage, frightening, and even insane. He implies that his proposal is modest and humble, rather than a ridiculous, bold solution. His views become more ridiculous when he states that he cannot think of any objections that could possibly be raised against his proposal. “The crux of Swift’s satire is his supposedly realistic attitude towards solving the problem which is quite obviously not very realistic at all” (Mazzeno “summar...
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...to eat during the famine.
Cummings, Michael J. "A Modest Proposal Study Guide." Cummingsstudyguide.net. Cummings Study Guide, 2005. Web. 13 May 2014.
Nattagh, Samar. "A Modest Proposal and the Irish Potato Famine." English10bkeyterm.com. Cooperate Study Aid, 14 Mar. 2008. Web. 13 May 2014
Mazzeno, W. "Summary." Enotes.com. Enotes.com, 2010. Web. 15 May 2014.
Porter, Janie. ""Swift' Ironies in "A Modest Proposal""" Victorianweb.org. English 171 Brown University, Autumn 2003. Web. 12 May 2014.
Shop Editorial Team. ""A Modest Proposal Analysis"" Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc, 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 12 May 2014
Smith, Nicole. "Irony and Social Critique in "A Modest Proposal"" Articlemyriad.com. Article Myriad, 6 Dec. 2011. Web. 13 May 2014
Swift, Jonathan. Adventures in English Literature. Athena ed. Austin: Holt Rinehart Winston, 1996. Print
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