A Modest Proposal
A Modest Proposal is everything that a satirical story should be.
It includes sarcasm and irony as Jonathan Swift takes us through a roller
coaster ride to show us how the poor are treated miserably.
The narrator begins by leading us down a path. He seems sincere
and thinks it is a pity how everywhere you walk in the streets of Dublin
you see the poor begging people for hand outs. He is seeking a solution to
help the commonwealth.
He appears to be a logical, educated person who makes it clear that
he has been studying this subject for years. He then tells us that he has
a solution to help the babies whose parents cannot afford them. We think
his idea will be charitable and will actually help the poor as well as the
The narrator then does something that I think set the tone for the
rest of the story. He referred to a baby just born as being dropped from
its dam. Animals are dropped from dams, not humans. Therefore poor
people in this story are nothing more than animals.
We are told how the children are a burden and how instead of
requiring food and clothing the rest of their lives, they will contribute
to the feeding and clothing of many people. Any intelligent person would
assume he intends to put them in factories or farms to work and not be on
the streets begging for food. We are also told that his plan will prevent
voluntary abortions and women murdering their bastard babies.
The narrator shows the reader he is serious by producing
calculations that appear to be well thought-out and then showing us,
through examples, That these children have no future.
Up to this point the narrator appears to be intelligent. He is
from the upper class and has low morals. He thinks lowly about the poor
but has made several logical assumptions and observations. He has us all
wondering what his proposal will be.
He then tells us that a young healthy child at a year old is a most
delicious, nourishing and wholesome food. The first thing that went
through everyone's mind is that this man is crazy. Cannibalism? That is
disgusting. Yet he continues on as if he said something completely
rational and sane. According to his proposal, twenty thousand children may
be reserved for breeding which is more than they allow to sheep, black
cattle and swine. He is comparing humans to animals again. The rest,
being one hundred thousand being sold to persons of quality and fortune.
Persons of quality? What kind of person eats a baby? He is even going as
far as to tell us to advise the mothers to let their babies suck
plentifully in the last month, so as to render them plump and fat for a
good table. That is revolting. He is just plain mad. That is the effect
I think Jonathan Swift wanted to grab our attention and make us listen to
him. That is when the satire starts to unfold and that is when he drops
on us. "I grant this food will...