A Modest Proposal Analysis

Topics: Satire, Ireland, Jonathan Swift Pages: 3 (1001 words) Published: February 25, 2014

I Like My Baby-Back Ribs

Eating babies—an idea frowned upon by most societies, but suggested by Jonathan Swift in his satirical essay called “A Modest Proposal” in which he argued that in order to prevent “the children of the poor in Ireland from being a burden to their parents”, they should be sold as livestock and consumed alongside chickens and cows at the dinner table. In 1729 when the essay was written, bitter conflict between Great Britain and Ireland regarding political and religious issues shrouded positive social interaction between the two countries and promulgated social disharmony and prejudice between the two countries. It was this very conflict and prejudicial attitude that caused Great Britain to neglect Ireland as the country became impoverished and plagued by surplus population. Using various imagery and details, Swift proclaims his real argument that Great Britain needs to help the Irish and to have the British people view them as human and consequently come to their aid. In the paragraphs preceding his proposal, Swift establishes an ethical connection with his audience in hopes to emphasize the absurdity of the proposal when established in the subsequent paragraphs. Swift begins his essay through a vivid introduction of his topic: he describes the streets of Ireland “crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by…six children all in rags”. By providing an image of poverty to the reader, his main argument, prompting the British to help the Irish, is established. However, as he continues on, Swift illustrates the insurmountable nature of the Irish’s plight through mathematical calculations. By “subtract[ing] fifty thousand, for those women who miscarry, or whose children die by accident or disease” and “subtract[ing] thirty thousand couples who are able to maintain their own children”, Swift calculates how “twenty thousand children of poor parents are annually born”. Despite creating the question of “how this number shall be reared,...
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