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A Modest Proposal, By Jonathan Swift

926 words - 4 pages

Jonathan Swift in his essay “A Modest Proposal” uses satire to attack governmental injustices and political abuse. He addresses Irish poverty and contends that the problem can be solved, and the economy saved by eating Irish babies. In the process, he emphasizes the number and extent of Ireland's social ills and the indifference and neglect with which they have been treated. He talks about the abuses on Irish Catholics by English Protestants who owned farms where the poor Irish men worked and charged high rents that the Irish were not able to pay. This leaves many Irish parents jobless or without decent jobs to support their children, so they spend all their time walking the streets to beg for money. In this case, he attacks the English and demonstrates how the English commonwealth is cruel and corrupt. He satirizes them by saying that:
I think it is agreed by all parties, that this prodigious number of children in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom, a very great additional grievance; and therefore whoever could find out a fair, cheap and easy method of making these children sound and useful members of the common-wealth, would deserve so well of the public, as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation (Swift 483).
Swift also mentions how the Irish parents bore many children considering the poor economic conditions they faced, and most children grow up to become thieves or emigrants due to parents not being able to support them. He satirizes the Irish for not being able to save themselves from the situation, even after so many solutions have been proposed. He shows that the Irish are incompetent in dealing with their own problems.
He also uses satire to make the act of eating the babies as a very normal thing. His ironic words show that the poor people were seen as no better than animals, and this is shown when he says “…although I rather recommend buying the children alive, and dressing them hot from the knife, as we do roasting pigs” (Swift 487). He also proposes several ways of serving the baby’s meat: whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled showing that he doesn’t feel sorry for the babies. Swift even talks about how an older child will be of less importance and what they can do is just work in the farms since their meat is tough and lean and their taste is disagreeable (Swift 486)
He brings to our attention that Americans also eat babies when he says, “I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child...

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