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A Modest Proposal Essay

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A Modest Proposal is a satiric essay by Jonathan Swift, written in 1729. It is aimed at the rich landowners of Ireland who are keeping the poor of Ireland in poverty and virtual starvation. The narrator is Swift, who seems to be making a strong case for cannibalism as a method for solving the problem of hunger and overpopulation in one ostensibly simple solution. He proposes that the Irish should sell their children under the age of one year as meat for the tables of the wealthy.

The problems Swift describes are primarily the number of poor in Ireland who are being forced to work for food in amounts less than that which is needed to feed their families. He hints that because of their religion they over-breed, being catholic and not practicing birth control. The same problems described by Swift in the 18th century are occurring today in many parts of the world. Hunger exists and children are born into families too poor and uneducated to do anything about a pregnancy when they cannot feed or clothe the children they have.

The U. N. attempts to ameliorate the hunger but nothing is done about the source of the problem so the food only fuels a new generation who are doomed to be as hungry as the one before it. Swift argues that marriage could be looked upon as a method of producing children as meat for the tables of the rich and that the union of a couple would have great financial benefits. They could produce meat children as a farmer raises pigs for slaughter. Swift speaks ironically of his proposals having the benefit, “Of teaching landlords to have at least one degree of mercy toward their tenants,” (Swift). Bibliography Swift, J. A Modest Proposal 1729.

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