Not So Modest Proposal
In 1729, with “A Modest Proposal”, Jonathan Swift raised the argument that, “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 public” (44), we should rid ourselves of them by our own consumption. We should bake them, fry them, or serve them in a fricassee or ragout. Swift proposes his “humble” thoughts, for which he expects no objection, on the idea that it would be beneficial to the parents, the country, and even the children if they were to be eaten. He also states that anyone who objects should “ask the parents of these mortals whether they would not at this day think it a great happiness to have been sold for food at a year old” (49). Swift backs up his ingenious scheme with previous accounts of success by gentlemen in America and other parts of the world. This shows that his idea is creditable because it has worked on previous occasions. This wondrous idea has so many benefits that it’s hard to see how anyone would be so close-minded to disagree. For instance, poor tenants would have something of value which could help them pay rent and also it would greatly increase the sales at taverns where the cooks would strive to find the best recipes for their new delicacy. Finally it would be a great advantage to those getting married, where as they could sell their children for profit ( with the children’s best interest in mind, of course). Swift has a very logical approach to dealing with the poor and starving. If they were to be eaten it would get rid of the problem and also create new opportunities for others in the community. This argument is emotionally sound as well. Swift only wants the best for the children and his country. He has no ulterior motives to profit from his idea because he has no young children and his wife is past child bearing age.When first read, this...
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