Satire in a Modest Proposal

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Jonathan Swift is one of the greatest satire writers of all time. He demonstrates satire through mathematical proposals and multiple quotations throughout a “A Modest Proposal” to focus on the deplorable situation in Ireland that is caused by the English all while engaging the reader with his own barbaric proposal that he makes seem realistic through description. The readers must understand that Jonathan Swift is using satire because through his satire, Swift illustrates issues in society and announces blame to the rightful owners rather than just the obviously bizarre proposal he is making. Swift’s modest proposal is created “for Preventing the Children of poor People in Ireland, from being a Burden to their Parents or Country; and for making them beneficial to the Publick,” (2028). More simply put, he introduces the idea of cannibalism to the Irish people. He suggests that the lower class Irish citizens sell their one year old children to the upper class so they can have them for meals. Swift explains the advantages to his proposal as being that the Irish will have property of their own, it will help bring an end to the overpopulation problem, and that his proposal will solve the food shortage problem. Swift lays the framework for his satire to be effective through his unnamed narrator. The unmanned narrator is important because he seems to be sensible and well educated. Yet, he is removed from the situation because he does not have any children of his own. Since the narrator does not have any children and his wife is “past child-bearing,” (2034) he has nothing to gain, and therefore the readers can believe that the narrator’s proposal is strictly named with Ireland’s best interest in mind. It is somewhat ironic that the narrator is unnamed. It is the invisible hand concept because the English landlords that are causing the problems are not visible in the pamphlet like the beggar women with the children following behind them are. On the surface, Swift’s...
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