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A Modest Proposal: Review

In “A Modest Proposal” Jonathan Swift adopts the persona of a concerned economist who suggests that, in order to better fight the poverty and overpopulation of Ireland, the children of the poor should be sold as food to the wealthy. He argues that the population will be reduced, but the income of the poor will increase significantly as they sell their children. A modest proposal uses satirical elements such as exaggeration, irony, and sarcasm to make its point. Swift wrote “A Modest Proposal” to get people’s attention to abuses inflicted on Irish Catholics by English Protestants.

Swift was a Protestant, but he was also a native of Ireland. He believed England was exploiting and oppressing Ireland. Throughout the essay we can ensure that Swift’s persona is very convincing by the six steps he gave the readers in the essay. Swift is also very determined about what he believes should happen to the overpopulation of Ireland. Swift begins detailing his proposal by saying, “I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.

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” The use of exaggeration of society accepting cannibalism is almost laughable.

In using the word “modest” to describe his proposal, Swift introduces an exaggeration of epic proportions. The utilization of such an unassuming word to describe a suggestion as horrific and appalling as that which is described in the proposal is utterly ludicrous in principle, and this is precisely why it is so effective in its application.

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Swift exaggerates how the English treat the Irish so badly. He believes that the English treats Irish people as food, “I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing and wholesome food…. nd I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee, or a ragout. ” … Irony is also seen in “A Modest Proposal” which a writer or speaker says the opposite of what he means. Swift’s uses this satirical element to make his main argument, that the Irish deserve better treatment from the English.

For example, to point out that the Irish should not be treated like animals, Swift compares them to animals, “I rather recommend buying the children alive, and dressing them hot from the knife, as we do roasting pigs. Swift uses irony through characterization in the essay. The ironic speaker in the essay  (buy my essay) can unemotionally discuss the economic and social benefits of killing and eating children without ever giving much thought to the moral problems. The speaker in “A Modest Proposal” uses irony and satire as he tells the reader turn a blind eye to other ideas or options and by doing so represents the worst kind of politician or social planner. Jonathan Swift was an exceptional writer who went against the direction to call attention to the crucial situation that Ireland was in.

He proposes that in order to better the economy in Ireland the children born to the poor, after reaching one year of age, should be sold as meat to the wealthy. Swift was trying to increase the shock value of cannibalism to point out a very serious matter, that the Irish people were in a terrible state of being, with poverty, overpopulation, and a corrupt system. Swift is not seriously suggesting that we should begin to eating infants. He is trying to point out how bad things have become and how desperately there needs to be a solution.

It is sarcasm, saying something completely weird and insane to make your point. In conclusion the persona adopted by Swift was able to expose the extraordinary corruption of the Irish people. Swift creates persona because by hiding his true identity he is able to convince the readers of the significance of Ireland’s problem and allow them to see truth and reality. The persona is a concerned Irishman who is very intelligent, sound, and serious.

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A Modest Proposal: Review. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

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