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Swift's Modest Proposal

4 Pages 896 Words

Swift’s “Modest Proposal”

Jonathan Swift’s proposal to Ireland concerning growing and selling babies for food and clothing is a barbaric and irrational idea—at first, but Swift gradually manipulates the reader to accept his thoughts as intelligent and rational. Swift uses satire throughout his “Modest Proposal”—satire meaning the use of sarcasm, or humor in a literary piece to ridicule or attack human vices. Swift is very effective in using patterns to create satire. At times he is sympathetic and other times callous, while using facts and statistics to create a specific effect and to strengthen his argument.
Satire is very clearly developed in Swift’s proposal. He believes there is a serious epidemic within Ireland, stating that with all the financial problems facing its people, children are just an “additional grievance” (Swift). According to Swift, even if the poor got jobs, or sold into slavery or if the poor steal at a larger rate, the situation would still be the same. This makes one wonder what his actual proposal is going to be about. “It is of a much greater extent, and shall take in the whole number of infants at a certain age who are born of parents in effect as little able to support them as those who demand out charity in the streets” (Swift). This is just the beginning of Swift’s proposal, so what he is basically suggesting is that infants should be sacrificed. Suddenly, the audience is hit with a comment that is alarming contextually. Swift compares the babies to livestock and calls them “savages.” The proposal becomes very outrageous, but he does not stop there. He goes on to state advantages, saying that “the constant breeders, besides the gain of eight shillings sterling per annum by the sale of their children, will be rid of charge of maintaining them after the first year” (Swift). Swift also assumes that infants would be a good custom for taverns—once again another unantic...

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