Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” written in 1729 was his proposal “for preventing the children of poor people in Ireland, from being a burden on their parents or country, and for making them beneficial to he publick” (Swift, Title). This proposal included the selling, skinning and buying of babies at the age of one. This proposal that he has come up with is a very inhuman and controversial one when it comes to being socially acceptable.
Swift begins his essay by describing walking down a street in Ireland. He describes how you would see, “beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags, and importuning every passenger for an alms” (Swift, Para. 1). This gives the reader a mental picture of how bad things are for the women he is trying to help. Swift then talks about how there are very many of these poor people in Ireland and how they are not able to be part of the middle or working class.
He then proposes his idea that the children could, “contribute to the feeding, and partly to the cloathing of many thousands” (Swift, Para. 4). In no way, shape, or form is the eating of or the using of children in this manner acceptable. No society would ever find it suitable to eat or make babies into clothes. Dr. Swift has made a proposal that he should know would not work because of the inhumanity that it is asking people in which to participate.
Jonathan Swift later tells the reader of how he has, “computed the charge of nursing a beggar’s child (in which list I reckon all cottagers, labourers, and four-fifths of the farmers) to be about two shillings per annum, rags included; and I believe no gentleman would repine to give ten shillings for the carcass of a good fat child,” (Swift, Para. 14). This is a good thing that Swift does telling how the mother would stand to make money on selling her child to a man for dinner. Except, I do not believe you couldn’t find a willing mother to sell her child knowing that it would be eaten by a human for a meal. Dr.
Swift has made a plan for people with no remorse or thought of their children. The only place this plan could be carried out and continue working is a place with robots that have no feeling or conscious. Swift then makes the statement, “Those who are more thrifty (as I must confess the times require) may flea the carcass; the skin of which, artificially dressed, will make admirable gloves for ladies, and summer boots for fine gentlemen,” (Swift, Para. 15). He thinks that someone would be able to treat a baby’s skin as an animal’s and make it into a glove or boot without objection to what it is. This is another flaw in his plan.
There are people who are against making animals into clothing. Therefore, I am sure that there would be people against the making of clothes from baby. Next, Dr. Swift gives 6 reasons of why he thinks the plan is a good one. His second reason states, “Secondly, The poorer tenants will have something valuable of their own, which by law may be made liable to a distress, and help to pay their landlord’s rent, their corn and cattle being already seized, and money a thing unknown,” (Swift, Para. 22). He thinks that poor tenants with children will be able to give their landlords something valuable by giving them their child.
No landlord would take a child as a means of money because it just costs more money to them to have the child then without it. In his fourth reason Swift says, “Fourthly, The constant breeders, besides the gain of eight shillings sterling per annum by the sale of their children, will be rid of the charge of maintaining them after the first year,” (Swift, Para. 24) If the people who like to “breed” hear of this then they will just think that they will be able to keep having children and selling them instead of having a job. This would cause more jobless people and after so long the supply of the babies would surpass the demand.
There then would be poor children hanging on their mothers again in the street defeating the purpose of the plan in the beginning. Fifthly Dr. Swift says, “This food would likewise bring great custom to taverns, where the vintners will certainly be so prudent as to procure the best receipts for dressing it to perfection; and consequently have their houses frequented by all the fine gentlemen, who justly value themselves upon their knowledge in good eating; and a skilful cook, who understands how to oblige his guests, will contrive to make it as expensive as they please,” (Swift, Para. 5).
Again, I refer back to how people would not be able to eat the carcass of an one year old child, but also I think that if you were to find a cook to make this and a person to eat it that it would be at such an outrageous price that the people could not afford to try the meal of the baby.
Finally, the last reason I do not think that this plan would work is what is in the final paragraph of the essay-“I profess, in the sincerity of my heart, that I have not the least personal interest in endeavouring to promote this necessary work, having no other motive than the publick good of my country, by advancing our trade, providing for infants, relieving the poor, and giving some pleasure to the rich. ” (Swift, Para. 33).
If the person that is proposing the idea at the end of the idea tells you that he has no interest in promoting his own proposal, I believe that it means he thinks that it also will not work and could not be enacted on a society. I am not the only one that is outraged or appalled with the works of Dr. Swift. Patrick Delany also states “As I have marked the passages that seemed to me most faulty, and gave me most offence, I beg leave to point them out, as they come in my way: without any further preface, or apology.
The picture he draws of the Yahoos, is too offensive to be copied, even in the slightest sketch. ” (Kathleen, Pg. 132). Delany and I are both offended and disagree with Swift’s works, but as a satire writer this just shows how effective his writing is on his audience. He tries to use outrageous and controversial subjects in order to grab the attention of his readers and keep them reading his papers. This style works very well and is a great way to get your point across. This style has grabbed the attention of all the readers and will continue to grab the attention of all the future readers of his essay.
Courtney from Study Moose
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