A Modest Proposal Essay Research Paper An

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A Modest Proposal Essay, Research Paper An Ironic Proposal Unlike most essays, Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” is written for the reader to see through what the narrator is expressing. The narrator does not want the reader to agree that the solution to overpopulation and poverty in Ireland is to eat babies, he wants the reader to see there needs to be a practical solution. By stating the advantages and objections to his proposal, using ironic words and phrases, he directs the reader not to see the apparent, but the implicit. Swift’s narrative voice metaphorically compares the Irish to pigs and cows, which implies the Irish are being treated subhumanly. Although something seems one way to the narrator, Jonathan Swift wants the reader to see it in an opposite

light. Firstly, the narrative voice begins the essay by describing the deplorable conditions in which the Irish peasants are living. He demonstrates there is a serious problem with a great need for a solution. He then suggests a solution and then lists a whole list of advantages. His propsal of eating the Irish babies is followed by advantages such as “by the sale of their children, [the parents would] be rid of the charge of maintaining them after the first year”(14). Another advantage is, as Swift put it, “the poorer tenants will have something valuable of their own”(14). These quotations imply that the poorer tenants have nothing of value and that they would have to resort to selling their own flesh and blood in order to earn an income; they also do not take into

consideration that the parents might want to have a family and children who will live with them past the age of one year. A decrease in the meat consumed by Ireland would lead to an advantage of “the addition of some thousand carcasses in our exportation of barreled beef”(14). A quotation such as this asks the residents of Ireland to eat human flesh to improve exportation. All the advantages he suggests are true: if his proposal was put into action, these would be benefits, but he is asking the poor to sell their children for consumption. The large population and poor living conditions of Irish peasants are matters which need to be taken care of. By means of downplaying his “modest proposal,” the narrator leads the reader to believe his proposal is rationale. He even goes

as far as saying, “I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection”(1) before he introduces the solution of eating infants. Of course there will be objections to this outrageous recommendation as it is a ridiculous notion. The suggestion of eating young children is most definitely not humble. He also proclaims, “[he] can think of no one objection that will be raised against this proposal, unless it should be urged that the number of people will be thereby much lessened in the kingdom.”(15). There are objections and they include more than just concerns about the population numbers. The Irish are being asked to consider ideas of selling their children for profit and cannibalism. If this idea is to go beyond just a

proposal, the values of society should be questioned. If this is to be contemplated as a legitimate solution, the values of society should also be examined thoroughly, I might add. Throughout the essay, ironic words and phrases are used to make the reader see that there is a discrepancy between the stated word or phrase and the implied meaning. The title of Swift’s essay, “A Modest Proposal” implies that his suggestion will be one of insubstantial content, something simple and unassuming. As a solution to the poor standard of living of the Irish, the narrator suggests eating children of about one year old. This recommendation is ludicrous and not simple at all. The narrator is asking the Irish to revert to cannibalism, which not just eating other human beings, it includes