a modest proposal





a modest proposal:  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.
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[Category]:
Book Reports
[Paper Title]:
a modest proposal
[Text]:
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 their own children. When the narrator begins to introduce this
preposterous proposal, he comments, "I shall now therefore humbly propose
my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the