A humble proposal | an analysis (2023)

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Jonathan Swift, one of the 'conservative writers', 'an accomplished satirist' (Abjadian 87), was born November 30, 1667 in Dublin, Ireland. His father, an Englishman who had moved to Ireland, died earlier this year. Receiving financial support from relatives, Swift attended a good school for his basic education, graduating from Trinity College Dublin in 1686. , although he campaigned for office in England. His writings, particularly his satires, made him one of Britain's most prominent citizens, and he worked for Conservative causes for a time. His best-known work is Gulliver's Travels, a satirical book about politics and society in general. "Despite ailing health, Swift continued to write prolifically, particularly on subjects related to Anglo-Irish relations and the Church. She condemned in 'A Modest Proposal' what she saw as England's oppression of Ireland." Dublin on October 19, 1745.

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A Modest Proposal: Stop the Children of Ireland's Poor Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country and Make Them Profitable to the Public, commonly referred to as A Modest Proposal, is a satirical youth essay written and published anonymously by Jonathan Swift was published in 1729. The essay was originally printed in pamphlet form.

(Video) Satire in "A Modest Proposal"

At the time of its publication in 1729, a pamphlet was a short work that commented on a political, religious, social, or other subject of public interest. A typical brochure had no binding, although sometimes it did have a paper cover. Pamphleteers, called pamphleteers, played an important role in igniting or resolving many of the great controversies in Europe in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, as well as in the political debate that led to the American Revolution. In addition to A Modest Proposal, Jonathan Swift wrote many political pamphlets supporting the causes of the Tory political party after renouncing his allegiance to the Whig party.


"A Modest Proposal" is an essay that uses satire to prove its point. A satire is a literary work that attacks or ridicules vice, insults, stupidity, and/or other flaws or imperfections. In Abjadian's words, "Satire is often seen as a corrective to human vice and folly" (11). Satire can make the reader laugh or disgust the person or thing being satirized. Mischievously or sardonically criticizes someone or something with wit and clever words, sometimes making outrageous claims or assertions. The main purpose of a satire is to get the readers to fix the issue being discussed. The satirist's main weapon is verbal irony, an idiom in which words are used to ridicule a person or thing by conveying a meaning opposite to what the words are saying.

Readers unfamiliar with his reputation as a satirical work are often not immediately aware that Swift was not seriously proposing cannibalism and infanticide, and readers familiar with the satires of Horace and Juvenal, "the two eminent Roman satirists" (Abjadian 13) , unfamiliar would recognize that Swift's essay follows the rules and structure of Latin satires.

"The excellent satirical strategy in A Modest Proposal" (Williams 26) is often only understood after the reader has noticed Swift's allusions to owner attitudes, such as the following: "I admit that this meal can be quite expensive, and therefore quite like landlords who, as they have devoured most parents, seem to have the best title for children" (Swift 1080). Swift expands on the metaphor to somewhat mock England's mistreatment of Ireland, noting that "because that sort of produce is not fit for export, and the flesh is of too tender a consistency to warrant a long stay in salt, though I could name a country that would gladly devour everything." (1084).

historical background

Over the centuries, England gradually gained a foothold in Ireland. In 1541 the Parliament of Dublin recognized the Protestant Henry VIII of England as King of Ireland. Despite repeated revolts by Irish Catholics, English Protestants continued to acquire property in Ireland. In 1703 they owned almost ten percent of the land. Meanwhile, legislation was enacted severely restricting the rights of Irish people to hold government office, own property, receive an education and otherwise advance. As a result, many Irish fled to foreign countries, including the United States. Most of those who remained in Ireland lived in poverty, faced disease, hunger and prejudice. Jonathan Swift tried to draw attention to this Ireland, an Ireland of the tyrannized and oppressed in 1720 in "A Modest Proposal".

Tertullian's apologies

Some scholars have argued that A Modest Proposal was largely influenced and inspired by Tertullian's Apology. While Tertullian's Apology is a satirical attack on the Roman persecution of Christianity, Swift's A Modest Proposal deals with the Anglo-Irish situation in the 1720s. James William Johnson believes that Swift saw great similarities between the two situations (563) . Johnson notes Swift's apparent affinity with Tertullian and the bold stylistic and structural similarities between A Modest Proposal and Apology (562).

In structure, Johnson points to the same central theme; that of cannibalism and baby eating; and same last argument; that "human depravity is such that men will seek to justify their own cruelty by accusing their victims of being inferior to humans" (563). Stylistically, Swift and Tertullian share the same mastery of sarcasm and language. According to Johnson, Donald C. Baker points out the similarity between the tones and both authors' use of irony. Baker points out the strange way in which both authors imply an ironic 'justification of ownership' on the subject of child sacrifice: Tertullian when he attacks pagan parents and Swift when he attacks the English mistreatment of the poor Irish (219).

purpose of the proposal

Swift seems to suggest in her essay that the impoverished Irish could alleviate their financial problems by selling children to wealthy gentlemen and ladies for food. In so doing, he disregards the authority of the British authorities. It was then that Britain took over Ireland and imposed severe restrictions on its trade, stifling its economy. The essay has been considered by historians to be the first documented satirical essay. A critic (quoted by Williams) in the 1777 Journal Anglais says:

In order to ridicule those reform plans with which the public was then inundated and which often insulted misery, they touched by their desire to offer comfort. It is noted that Swift mimicked the usual expressions and flirtatious tone of the authors of these projects (199).

He wrote "A Modest Proposal" to draw attention to the mistreatment inflicted on Irish Catholics by wealthy English Protestants. Swift himself was a Protestant, but he was also of Irish origin, having been born in Dublin to English parents. He believed that England exploited and oppressed Ireland. Many Irish worked on English-owned farms, which charged high rents, so high that the Irish often could not pay them. As a result, many Irish farming families lived constantly on the brink of starvation.

(Video) Practice With Rhetorical Analysis A Modest Proposal

In "A Modest Proposal," Swift satirizes English landlords with unashamed humor, proposing that one-year-old Irish babies, if they are fat and healthy, be sold for food in order to provide the Irish with a new source of income. a new food. Product to boost your economy and solve a social problem. He says his proposal, if accepted, would also mean that the number of Catholics in Ireland would shrink, as most Irish children - almost all baptized Catholics - would end up in stews and other dishes instead of growing up . towards catholic churches Here you satirize the prejudices of the protestants towards the catholics. Swift also satirizes the Irish themselves in her essay, as many of them have stoically accepted the abuse rather than acting for themselves.


About the style used in the essay, William Monck Mason says:

The cold, phlegmatic style [in A Modest Proposal] of a political planner who takes into account all the noblest sentiments of mankind or subordinates them as trifling matters to the general benefits proposed in his plan of improvement. . , is satirized admirably well…. Equally admirable is the cold and "professional" way in which the calculations are presented (340).


..... In "A Modest Proposal" Swift uses a standard essay format: an opening presenting the topic and thesis (the "Modest Proposal"), a body developing the thesis in detail, and a Conclusion. From the outset, the author addresses the problem: the deplorable economic and social conditions that impoverish the Irish and prevent them from adequately caring for their children. Before presenting the dissertation, include the following transitional sentence: "I will now humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be the subject of the slightest contradiction" (Swift 1080). Follow this sentence with the thesis and then present the details in the body of the essay.

Finally, indicate the benefits that would result from your proposal. Begin with the following two sentences: “I've digressed too far, so I'll get back to my topic. Then he lists the benefits, using transition words like second and third to get from one point to the other." , which says the opposite of what she really means.


The dominant idiom in "A Modest Proposal" is verbal irony, in which an author or speaker says the opposite of what he means. Swift's mastery of this device makes his main argument (that the Irish deserve better treatment from the English) both powerful and terribly funny. For example, to suggest that the Irish should not be treated like animals, Swift compares them to animals, as in this example: "I prefer to buy children alive and cook them over coals with a knife like we roast pork." "Swift points out that disease, famine and poor living conditions threaten to kill large numbers of Irish people and celebrates their plight as a positive development:

Some broken-hearted people are very concerned about such a large number of poor people who are old, sick or crippled and I have been asked to share my thoughts on what can be done to rid the nation of such a grave nuisance . . . But it doesn't hurt me in the least, because they are known to die and rot every day from cold and starvation, dirt and bugs, as fast as you can expect. And as for the young workers, they are in such a hopeful state now; they are unable to find work and consequently suffer from starvation to the point that if at any time they are inadvertently hired to work together they have no strength to do so; and so the country and herself are happily freed from the evils to come (1082).

In "Sarcasm and Irony in Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal", a critic of irony in essays argues:

One of the voices that runs through the story is that of irony. The story itself is ironic, as no one can take Swift's suggestion seriously. This irony becomes clear at the end of the story; Swift clarified that the proposal would not affect him as his children are grown and his wife can no longer have children. It would be absurd to think that any sane person would want to suggest this and engage in another person's consumption. Therefore, before proceeding with any analysis, it must be assumed that this is pure fiction and that Swift had no intention of proceeding with his proposal.

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(Video) A Modest Proposal Summary in English


The essay contains a few allusions, including Barbados (Barbados): the easternmost island of the West Indies, colonized by the British in 1627. When Swift published "A Modest Proposal" in 1729, the island's plantation owners were using slaves to produce sugar for European consumption; Dublin: The Irish city mentioned in "A Modest Proposal". It is the capital of Ireland; Formosa: Portuguese name for Taiwan, a Chinese-inhabited island off the southeast coast of China; Mandarin: Chinese high official; Papist: Roman Catholic; Suitor: James Francis Edward Stuart (1688-1766), son of King James II who ruled England, Ireland and Scotland from 1685 to 1688. James II was Catholic, as was his wife, Mary of Modena. After his rise to power, Protestant factions repeatedly maneuvered against him behind the scenes. When Mary became pregnant, these factions feared that the birth of their child would establish a line of Catholic monarchs. Consequently they conspired to overthrow James II and replace him with the Dutchman William of Orange, whose mother was the daughter of an English king, Charles I, and whose wife was one of James II's own daughters. When William marched against England, many Protestants in James II's army defected to William, and James had no choice but to flee to France. After his death in 1701, the King of France proclaimed James II's youngest son, James Francis Edward Stuart, as the rightful King of England. The English Parliament then enacted legislation intended to prevent another Catholic king from taking his place. However, in the years that followed, James Francis repeatedly attempted to reclaim the throne, and the British eventually dubbed him "The Old Pretender". Psalmanazar, George: French forger and con man who traveled widely under various roles. In one of his most famous schemes, he embodied Formosa (now Taiwan), about which little was known in Europe at the time. In London he published a book on Formosa in which he wrote that Formosan law permitted a husband to eat his wife if she committed adultery. Psalmanazar had never visited Formosa; the whole book was made up. However, many English people believed what he had written.


In the essay some topics are explained and addressed. Issues such as exploitation of the oppressed. Underneath Swift's bold satire is a serious subject; that English lords shamelessly exploit and oppress the impoverished people of Ireland by unjust laws, high rents demanded of absentee landlords, and other injustices. Another problem is prejudice: at the time of the publication of A Modest Proposal, many British Protestants looked down on Catholics, especially Irish Catholics, and enacted laws that restricted their ability to prosper. A major theme of the play is Irish idleness; Swift's satirical language also chides the Irish themselves for not acting with firm determination to better their lot. Another theme is, as Barnett puts it, "the subject of unwanted reproduction is the miserable mothers of Ireland in A Modest Proposal, whose children, as the subtitle informs us, are 'a burden to their parents or their country'" (121). . .


It has been argued that Swift's primary focus in A Modest Proposal was not the conditions in Ireland, but rather the can-do ethos of the time, which led people to devise a series of illogical schemes that addressed social and economic problems should solve. Swift has been particularly reviled by projects that attempt to solve population and labor problems with a simple panacea. A memorable example of this type of scheme "involved the idea of ​​governing the poor through a joint-stock company" (Wittkowsky 85). In response, Swift's modest proposal was "a burlesque of projects relating to the poor" (88) in vogue in the early eighteenth century.

A modest suggestion also focuses on the calculating way people perceived the poor in designing their projects. The pamphlet is aimed at reformers who "regard people as commodities" (Wittkowsky 101). In the play, Swift employs the "technique of political arithmetic" (95) to demonstrate the utter ridiculousness of attempting to prove any statement with dispassionate statistics.

Critics differ on Swift's intentions in using this incorrect mathematical philosophy. Edmund Wilson argues that statistically "the logic of the 'humble proposition' can be likened to the Defense of Crime (attributed to Marx), in which he argues that crime tends to the superfluous population" (Wittkowsky 95). Wittkowsky replies that Swift's satirical use of statistical analysis is an attempt to improve his satire, which "springs from a spirit of bitter mockery, not from a delight in calculations for their own sake" (98).


Robert Phiddian's article Have You Eaten Yet? The Modest Proposal Reader focuses on two aspects of A Modest Proposal: Swift's voice and the voice of the proposer. Phiddian stresses that the reader of the brochure must learn to distinguish between Jonathan Swift's satirical voice and the applicant's obvious economic projections. He reminds readers that "there is a gap between the meaning of the narrator and that of the text, and that a moral-political argument is advanced through parody" (Phiddians 6).

(Video) A Modest Proposal Notes

While Swift's proposal is obviously not a serious economic proposal, George Wittkowsky, author of Swift's Modest Proposal: The Biography of an Early Georgian Pamphlet, argues that understanding Swift's economics is important to fully understanding the paper. Hour. Wittowsky argues that few critics have taken the time to focus directly on mercantilism and labor theories in eighteenth-century England. "[I]n taking the modest proposal simply as a criticism of the terms, one can only say that the terms were poor and that Swift's irony brilliantly highlighted that fact" (Phiddians 3). At the dawn of a new industrial age in the 18th century, it was believed that "the people are the wealth of the nation" and there was a general belief in an economy that pays low wages to its workers because high wages would mean the workers had work. negative (4). Furthermore, "from a mercantilist point of view, no child was too young to enter the industry". At that time, "the somewhat more humane attitudes of the past have almost disappeared and the worker was considered a commodity" (6).

"People are the wealth of a nation"

Louis A. Landa presents Swift's A Modest Proposal as a critique of the popular and unjustified maxim of eighteenth-century mercantilism that "men are the wealth of a nation" (161). Swift depicts the dire state of Ireland and shows that, even in Ireland's case, mere population did not always mean increased prosperity and economy (165). The uncontrolled maxim fails to recognize that those who do not produce impoverish a country economically or politically do not enrich it (165). Swift also acknowledges the implications of this fact by posing a paradox of mercantilist philosophy: a country's wealth is based on the poverty of the majority of its citizens (165). Swift, on the other hand, argues Landa, not only criticizes economic maxims but also addresses the fact that England denies Irish citizens their natural rights and dehumanizes them as mere commodities (165).


Charles K. Smith argues that Swift's rhetorical style persuades the reader to loathe the speaker and pity the Irish. Swift's specific strategy is twofold, using a "trap" to induce sympathy for the Irish and disgust for the narrator, who within one sentence "describes vividly and with rhetorical emphasis abject poverty" but feels emotion only for members of them Family. own class. Swift's use of poignant details of poverty and her narrator's cold approach to it create "two opposing viewpoints" that "alienate the reader, perhaps unconsciously, from a narrator who can "longingly" see the detachment of a subject that Swift guided us." rhetorically much less distant" (Smith 136).


A Modest Proposal, A (1729), a pamphlet by Jonathan Swift on Ireland, written in the summer of 1729. In form and tone it resembles a conventional philanthropic appeal for a solution to Ireland's economic crisis, but the anonymous speaker de Swift proposes a barbaric plan for the to cannibalize the nation's children. It's a masterpiece of rhetorical irony, a haunting fiction that marks the end of Swift's pamphleteering role in national affairs after a decade of passionate engagement.

The essay describes the dreadful state of affairs in Ireland and the life of the Irish people in 1729. The author depicts and attacks the cruel and unjust oppression of Ireland by its oppressor, the powerful Englishman, while at the same time ridiculing the Irish people. However, Swift's resistance comes indirectly. Jonathan Swift is able to do this, using personality, irony and wit to expose the remarkable corruption and degradation of the Irish people while finding workable solutions to their miserable and ruthless lives. The author uses satire to achieve his goal, not only because it can obscure his true identity, but also because it is the most effective way of getting the people of Ireland to see their own depravity.

Swift creates a fictional character because by hiding her true identity she can convince readers of the importance of the Irish problem and allow them to see the truth and reality. The character is a concerned, highly intelligent, sensitive, and serious Irishman. He looks like an animal and a monster because he very calmly suggests something evil and immoral, as if consuming another human's flesh is normal. What makes his proposal even more depraved is that he sets out to eat the babies. The person declares, at exactly the age of one, that I intend to support them so that rather than being a burden to their parents or the community, or being without food and clothing for the rest of their lives, they can live . , on the contrary, will contribute to the nutrition and, in part, the clothing of many thousands. The character justifies his suggestion with numerous reasons.

In addition to preventing voluntary abortion and infanticide, it will also prevent loss of alimony and abuse of women and children. The number of papists would be reduced and children would not become beggars, thieves or whores. The proposal will improve the situation of the peasantry and encourage mothers to love and care for their children. However, the character alone is not enough to make the narrator seem very plausible. The character must use irony and wit to make his writing more effective. Indeed, according to deGategno and Stubblefield, it is "the kind of callous disregard for children that Swift parodied and criticized in 'A Modest Proposal' (69).

A humble proposal is so effective and persuasive because the authors use plenty of irony in their essay. The title itself is definitely tongue-in-cheek. It gives the reader false expectations of decency and sensitivity on the part of the author. Killing innocent babies and using their skins for clothing is beyond humble. It's brutal and crazy. The suggestion aims to shock and throw the reader off balance. The narrator also makes fun of the Irish. Swift excited and inspired the Irish to revolt by presenting them with workable solutions to end the agony of the Irish people.

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(Video) A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift (Satirical Essay) Summary

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What is the overall message of Modest Proposal? ›

Presented in the guise of an economic treatise, the essay proposes that the country ameliorate poverty in Ireland by butchering the children of the Irish poor and selling them as food to wealthy English landlords. Swift's proposal is a savage comment on England's legal and economic exploitation of Ireland.

What are the main solutions that Swift's proposal would solve? ›

As a solution to the poverty in which these families are forced to live, by virtue of having so many mouths to feed, Swift suggests that these poor Irish families should fatten up their children and sell them to the rich English land owners.

What are the three things he is criticizing in his proposal? ›

In A Modest Proposal, Swift vents his mounting aggravation at the ineptitude of Ireland's politicians, the hypocrisy of the wealthy, the tyranny of the English, and the squalor and degradation in which he sees so many Irish people living.

What is the conclusion for Modest Proposal? ›

Answer and Explanation: In the conclusion of "A Modest Proposal," the narrator insists that he had no selfish motives in his proposal. He merely wanted to promote the public good, advance trade, provide for infants, relieve the poor, and give some pleasure to the rich.

What are three themes in A Modest Proposal? ›

  • Suffering.
  • Inertia.
  • Society and Class.
  • Morality and Ethics.
  • Visions of Ireland.
  • Foreignness and "The Other"
  • Politics.
  • Power.

What is the theme of society and class in A Modest Proposal? ›

A Modest Proposal is meant to show us that class is an artificial construct. Poor children are just as deserving as wealthy children. Swift suggests that those who possess the most wealth have a responsibility to their less fortunate countrymen. They should turn their attention from pride and vanity to charity.

What is the one objection that the narrator thinks might possibly be raised against this proposal? ›

7. What is the one objection that the narrator thinks might "possibly be raised against this proposal"? It will reduce the number of people in the kingdom.

How does Swift criticize society? ›

The main way that Swift criticizes society in ''A Modest Proposal'' is through satire, suggesting that the Irish solve their poverty problem by turning their infant children into luxury food items and selling their adolescent children to be hunted like game in forests.

Who are the targets of satire in A Modest Proposal? ›

Answer and Explanation: Swift's chief satirical target in A Modest Proposal was the Whig ministry in England, guilty of English exploitation.

What is ironic about the last paragraph of A Modest Proposal? ›

The last paragraph of A Modest Proposal is the cherry on top of the satire. The narrator reaffirms that he is a loyal Irishman only looking out for the good of his country. Once again, folks, this is not an outsider proposing to sacrifice Irish babies as a food source.

How is A Modest Proposal an ethical argument? ›

A Modest Proposal is all about an ethically dubious idea turned into a plausible scheme. The funny thing is, the narrator doesn't like to mention morals or make judgments. He just makes shocking suggestions about selling babies for cold, hard cash.

Did A Modest Proposal change anything? ›

Despite its power as a piece of rhetoric, A Modest Proposal did not lead to any lasting changes for Ireland's rural poor. Just over a century later, thousands would perish in the Great Famine.

What is the problem Swift is trying to solve? ›

Jonathan Swift's attack on the British government's inability to solve the problem of poverty in Ireland is one of the literary canon's most famous examples of satire.

What is Swift's main purpose in this essay? ›

The purpose of Swift's satirical essay is to call attention to the problems that were being experienced by the people of Ireland. He wanted the English (who ruled Ireland) to realize what they were doing and to put in place reforms that would solve the problems they had helped to cause.

What is Swift's satirical solution to this problem? ›

In the essay, Swift offers a satirical solution to the problem of Irish poverty and oppression. He suggests that Irish parents raise their children to the age of one year (after all, the first year doesn't cost too much) and then sell them to their English landlords as food.

What are the 5 problems in A Modest Proposal? ›

A Modest Proposal to End Abortion, Draft Problems, Poverty, Crime, Unemployment and Overpopulation.

What is the metaphor in A Modest Proposal? ›

Throughout A Modest Proposal, Swift draws an extended metaphor that connects consuming resources to (literally) consuming children. The wealthy have already eaten up the Irish land, so it's no surprise when they turn to the Irish children to feed their appetites.

What is the central theme of the chapter the proposal? ›

The play 'The Proposal' explains how anger and arguments can easily ruin a relationship. Thus to maintain a good relationship, it is important to have control over your anger. Having arguments over silly or small issues is extremely harmful and a waste of time.

What is the social problem in A Modest Proposal? ›

In A Modest Proposal, Jonathan Swift blames the widespread social phenomenon of thievery in Ireland on the fact that poor children are entirely abandoned to themselves.

What is the thesis of the essay A Modest Proposal? ›

The implied thesis of Swift's “A Modest Proposal" is that 18th century Ireland would be in a better situation if the Irish society and monarchy actually treated problems such as overpopulation and poverty, While the overt thesis is that Irish people should consider eating their children and selling them to rich ...

What is the only objection the author foresees in A Modest Proposal? ›

The author now anticipates an objection to his proposal--that it will too drastically reduce the national population.

What was the author's purpose in creating A Modest Proposal? ›

He wrote “A Modest Proposal” as an attempt to convince the Irish Parliament to improve the conditions of the poor. Swift used the idea of eating children as a metaphor for what he saw as the exploitation of the poor, such as the high rents charged by landlords.

What does the speaker admit is the strongest objection to any proposal? ›

(MP) The speaker admits that it would be regarded as cruel and that is the strongest objection to his proposal.

What is the real problem that Swift is trying to address in his essay? ›

The issue that the author is addressing is the ever-growing problem of poverty, starvation, sanitation, overpopulation, and enslavement of the Irish people and the fact that nobody, including the Irish themselves, are willing to do anything to fix the problem.

How does Swift use satire in A Modest Proposal? ›

Swift uses satire throughout his proposal, by suggesting to the people of Ireland that they should harvest the little children of the poor. Swift stated that by making ''Them Beneficial to the Public", Ireland would be in a better circumstance.

Why is Jonathan Swift considered a controversial writer? ›

Swift's irony was aiming both at the English rule in Ireland and at the Irish themselves who were passively accepting it. His views and works made him one of the most controversial writers of the time. Overall, he was a conservative who was very concerned with politics and society.

What is the verbal irony in A Modest Proposal? ›

The irony in the title "A Modest Proposal" is that what Swift is proposing is not at all "modest." His proposed solution is horrible, comical, absurd, but not modest. The irony occurs because of the tension between "modest" and the actual proposal of eating children.

How would you Analyse A Modest Proposal as a satire? ›

The essay suggests that the impoverished Irish might ease their economic troubles by selling their children as food to rich gentlemen and ladies. This satirical hyperbole mocked heartless attitudes towards the poor, predominantly Irish Catholic (i.e., "Papists") as well as British policy towards the Irish in general.

What is the parody in Modest Proposal? ›

However, in “A Modest Proposal” the argument is an exaggeration and a parody: that eating small children of poor people would reduce poverty in Ireland. The text follows a traditional structure: title, introduction, main body, and conclusion—elements that we outline next.

What does Swift imply about Americans in the essay? ›

Answer and Explanation: Jonathan Swift viewed Americans as heathen cannibals. Swift believed that Americans were like Native Americans and depicted them as savages and violent people.

Why was Swift angry in A Modest Proposal? ›

Swift was enraged at the passivity of the Irish people, who had become so habituated to the situation that they seemed incapable of making any effort to change it.

Why did Jonathan Swift use irony? ›

Swift uses the essay to satirize both his subject and his political proposal by using irony to resolve the issue of the Irish people's economic struggle. His immoral proposal shocks the readers and forces them to think about the issues Ireland was facing specifically the tyranny of the upper class.

What is the opposing argument in A Modest Proposal? ›

The rebuttal in "A Modest Proposal" is simply that eating the children of the poor will result in a population problem: "the number of people will be thereby much lessened in the kingdom" (Swift 11).

Does A Modest Proposal appeal to emotion or reason? ›

The proposal contains ethical and logical arguments that elicit the reader's emotions especially on the suggestion that “whoever has a cheap solution to the dilemma in Ireland should have a statue put up in their own.” Concerning Swift's description of the young lads and maidens, he focuses on the character and ethics ...

What appeals or arguments does Swift use in his proposal? ›

In “A Modest Proposal”, Swift's arguments are presented effectively by using pathos (emotional appeal), ethos (ethics and values), and logos (logic reasoning and facts).

What point was Swift really trying to convey to his readers? ›

Swift wants to reduce human beings—babies and children—to numbers. This approach makes people seem like animals and objects, which distances the speaker and readers from the Irish people.

Why is A Modest Proposal ironic? ›

Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" is permeated throughout with irony. ÊIn his opening, Swift's speaker misleads readers by emphasizing the humble and selfless intentions of his proposal. Before being made aware of his outrageous proposition, the reader is gently coaxed into seeing him as an empathetic individual.

What is the purpose and audience of A Modest Proposal? ›

It is pretty simple for any reader to make out that Swift's intended audience was the upper-class who was at a literate stage unlike the poor at that time who were unable to make what Swift really wanted to express in his “proposal.”

What is Swift's main purpose in A Modest Proposal quizlet? ›

The purpose of Swift's satirical essay is to call attention to the problems that were being experienced by the people of Ireland. He wanted the English (who ruled Ireland) to realize what they were doing and to put in place reforms that would solve the problems they had helped to cause.

What impact did A Modest Proposal have? ›

Despite its power as a piece of rhetoric, A Modest Proposal did not lead to any lasting changes for Ireland's rural poor. Just over a century later, thousands would perish in the Great Famine.

At what point is it clear that A Modest Proposal is satire? ›

Answer: A modest proposal is an effective satire because it uses hyperbole to make a point about poverty and the treatment of the poor by the rich. The author exaggerates the problem, and then argues that if you think it's bad now, just wait until things get worse.

What is the irony in A Modest Proposal? ›

The situational irony of the entire proposal suggests that the poor children of Ireland have no value, because they should be sold and eaten for a profit. The narrator's proposal emphasizes the lack of value that that poor children have in society.

In what way does A Modest Proposal for the definition of satire? ›

The use of Satire is present in Jonathan Swifts 'A Modest Proposal' since it involves “using irony, wit, and sometimes sarcasm to expose humanity's vices and foibles (Murfin and Ray 251),” which we can identify predominantly in the dialogue of the text.

Who is Swift trying to address in this essay? ›

Eighteenth century writer Jonathan Swift was a master of satire, and his essay, A Modest Proposal, addresses the poverty and oppression suffered by the Irish people at the hands of their English landlords. Swift uses satire to draw attention to the issue; he then presents real solutions to the problem.

What are the six main reasons for Swift's proposal? ›

What are the six principal advantages? According to the speaker, his plan would (1) reduce the number of Catholics, (2) give the poor a tangible asset, (3) aid the economy and introduce a new food, (4) decrease the time "breeders" have to raise children, (5) improve taverns' business, and (6) encourage marriage.

What is the purpose of the last paragraph in A Modest Proposal? ›

The last paragraph of A Modest Proposal is the cherry on top of the satire. The narrator reaffirms that he is a loyal Irishman only looking out for the good of his country. Once again, folks, this is not an outsider proposing to sacrifice Irish babies as a food source.

What is the problem that Swift is trying to solve? ›

Jonathan Swift's attack on the British government's inability to solve the problem of poverty in Ireland is one of the literary canon's most famous examples of satire.


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