A Modest Proposal With A New Critical Approach
A Modest Proposal, by Jonathon Swift is very much an ironic persuasive essay. He is proposing the eating of babies as a way to help with poverty. Throughout the essay he makes many thought-out yet almost unthinkable arguments that support his proposal. You do however know he doesn't really want people to start eating babies. He is just trying to show a major problem in a shocking way. His arguments for the eating of babies are as follows: it would greatly reduce the number of poverty stricken people (especially children); it would give those same people income when they sold their children; the nation as a whole will have more money because of this new income; there would be more food for everyone (baby might even become a delicacy); people would save a lot of money by not having to support their children after the first year of birth; and finally, it would help out marriages since there would be less stress on the parents.
These theories are stated and supported throughout Swift's essay. He uses the structure of the essay to help you get a good understanding of the material he is presenting. The basic structure of the essay starts out with him explaining the problem he plans to help solve, that Dublin is poverty stricken. There are too many beggars with way too many children. Next, he starts to subtly drop hints about his proposal. He explains that he is going to, "Humbly propose (his) own thoughts," and that he hopes they, "Will not be liable to the least objection."(Abcarian, 629) He continues by further explaining some of his proposal's benefits, then in a list fashion states the six main arguments for it. Swift then adds his last few reasons why people should consider his proposal and again explains how this is only a mere suggestion, he is willing to listen to anyone else's ideas. When I first read this essay I immediately caught Swifts use of satire. This whole essay is built on irony. It is meant to shock and appall. His proposal is so outlandish that it is funny. That's the irony. No one would ever even dream of actually eating babies, that's why it works. It had to be something so outrageous for Swift to get his point across. He wants people to see how serious the problem is, and he does this by giving people a morbid solution. Only the killing of babies could solve their problem. The satire is also shown through the style with which he writes. He is being modest, or is he? During some parts of the essay Swift states his modesty, which is exactly the opposite of being modest, besides the fact that anyone who was actually modest would never propose something like eating babies in the first place. Where in other parts he almost matter-of-factly states his reasons. As I do my research hopefully I will discover why swift changes his tone and level of modesty for different parts of the essay.
Another element of style that further develops the essay's irony is the serious tone....