100 Great Essays. New York penguin Academics:
New York. 2008. Pages 669-677
A Modest Proposal is mainly about Jonathan Swift’s sarcastic idea of keeping the children of poor people from being a burthen to their parents, or the country, and for making them beneficial to the public: which is what the rest of the pamphlet is named. The point is to ironically attempt to "find out a fair, cheap, and easy Method" for converting the starving children of Ireland into "sound and useful members of the Commonwealth." All across the country poor children, mostly Catholics are living in poverty because their families are too poor to keep them fed and clothed. The author argues, by hard-edged economic reasons as well as from a “self-righteous moral stance”, for a way to turn this problem into its own solution. The proposal was to fatten up these undernourished children and feed them to Ireland's rich land-owners. Children of the poor could be sold into a meat market at the age of one, he thinks, that even though he is up against overpopulation and unemployment, sparing families the expense of child-bearing while providing them with a little extra income, improving the culinary experience of the wealthy, and giving a little back to the overall economic wellness of the nation. He offers statistical support for his assertions and gives specific data about the number of children to sell, their weight and price, and the projected consumption patterns. He suggests some “recipes for preparing this delicious new meat”, and he feels sure that “innovative cooks” will be quicker to make more. He also hopes that the practice of selling and eating children will have positive effects on family morality: “husbands will treat their wives with more respect”, and “parents will value their children in many ways unknown”. The main point is that the impact of this project will do more to solve Ireland's complex...