This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

An Essay On Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal

1043 words - 4 pages


Short Paper: On Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal

Jonathan Swift in his piece, A Modest Proposal, uses satiric devices, mathematical equations and ludicrous logic to make the reader think about the enormity of the problems present in Ireland. By using the primary text, A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift and secondary texts such as; Donald Baker's Tertullian and Swift's "A Modest Proposal"; Barbara Bengels' Swift's A MODEST PROPOSAL; and Erin Hoepfinger's DISCOVERING JONATHAN SWIFT THROUGH DERRIDA, MILLER, AND DE MAN this paper will show how Swift creates empathy for the poor and their children with his unique writing style.

Swift's proposal, which is in the unique form of a political pamphlet, shows the reader the reality about Ireland; specifically the way the poorer people are treated and the way they are thought of by those in a higher economic and social class. Because Swift used the form of a political pamphlet he is stating through the medium of the political pamphlet that "He has an idea which he will share, and in this sharing he has the confidence that we, as readers, will act and follow the suggestions of the said proposal" (Hoepfinger 26). This medium along with the humour we find in A Modest Proposal lends itself to "force a fellow to let out a guffaw, [as] it does create a sense of wry lip curling" (Hoepfinger 27). This type of humour as Bruce Jackson states may be "more appropriate that the literal truth" (qtd. In Hoepfinger 27). This allows the reader of the piece to get involved in the social commentary Jonathan Swift is presenting.

One of the social aspects A Modest Proposal talks about is how the shortage of food for those without money has contributed to the starvation and poor conditions of a high percentage of the population. Barbara Bengels' writing on clothing in Jonathan Swift's proposal illiterates this point and focuses on how the poorer people are portrayed through the clothing they wear. Examples of clothing showing an economic standing in Swift's piece include; "Beggars of the Female Sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags" (502); "exactly at one Year old [...] they shall [...] contribute to the Feeding, and partly to the Cloathing, of many Thousands" (503); and finding "Food and Raiment, for a Hundred Thousand useless Mouths and Backs" (509). Barbara Bengels then goes on to write that Jonathan Swift uses clothing to show us the extent of Ireland's degradation in that "Ireland, without the ability to manufacture its own goods, must go in rags" (14).

Swift in his proposal is able to accentuate the absurdity of these situations by presenting cannibalism as a logical and...

Find Another Essay On An Essay on Jonathan Swift's a Modest Proposal

Literary Analysis of Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal

909 words - 4 pages In A Modest Proposal, Jonathan Swift protests the egregious manner in which the English treat the Irish. He is attempting to change the minds of his audience to shame them for their attitude towards the Irish. He is suggesting that eating the Irish children are the solution to the crowded streets of England. Swift, throughout the text, treats the infants and mothers as livestock, delicacies to be eaten by the English, satirizing how they think

John Swift's A Modest Proposal Essay

1374 words - 5 pages In Jonathan Swift’s satirical work, A Modest Proposal, the reader is presented with a horrible concept using extremely effective language and logos; Swift uses strong speech, rational tone, and complex grammar to convince readers that eating children will solve all the problems in 19th century Ireland. Swift’s overall goals in his pamphlet, however, is not to actually encourage eating babies, which is why it is of satire, but is instead to

Jonathan Swift's Real Argument. A close reading of "A modest Proposal"

1170 words - 5 pages God only knows from whence came Freud's theory of penis envy, but one of his more tame theories, that of 'reverse psychology', may have its roots in the satire of the late Jonathan Swift. I do not mean to assert that Swift employed or was at all familiar with that style of persuasion, but his style is certainly comparable. Reverse psychology (as I chose to define it for this paper) means taking arguments that affirm an issue to such a degree

Similarities between Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail and Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal

1821 words - 7 pages being a catalyst to real change, Swift differs by focusing on an outcome necessitated by economic imperatives. In fact, he utilizes economics as a justification of sinister means toward the gain of prosperous ends. He manages to accomplish this feat with his own inimitable blend of satire and acerbic wit. For example, from Swift's "A Modest Proposal": "Supposing that one thousand families in this city would be constant customers for infants' flesh

Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal and Wilfred Owen's Dulce tt Decorum Est

2275 words - 9 pages Proposal" and “Dulce et Decorum Est" are two pieces of literature from two different time periods, they show a certain similarity in the way they relate to and question the views of their respective periods. “A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People from Being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick,” commonly referred to as “A Modest Proposal,” is an essay written by Jonathan Swift

A Modest Proposal: Jonathan Swift's Political Statement About Conditions of Life in 1729

1101 words - 4 pages "A Modest Proposal” a Political Statement Mouth-watering, scrumptious, and delicious are a few words that come to mind when you think of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.” His satire on the conditions of life in 1729 was to draw its readers to serious discussion on the distressing matters that plagued their society. His extreme and sarcastic response to the treatment of the ever-growing poor population of Irish families, by the rich

Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal

2102 words - 8 pages A satire uses irony or sarcasm to make a point. Many authors use satire to bring society’s attention to political, social, or economic problems in a somewhat humorous way. Some authors even use satire in an attempt to correct the religious practices of the society. Satire is an effective way to highlight problems because it is non-threatening but it grabs the attention of the reader. Jonathan Swift wrote his satirical essay “A Modest Proposal

Satire in Swift's A Modest Proposal

997 words - 4 pages Satire in Swift's A Modest Proposal Swift's aim of his proposal is to expose the cruelty of the rich landlords of Ireland, who were not being aware of the poverty and suffering of the Irish people. Swift's proposal is an attempt to suggest a remedy of Ireland's situation by shocking those who are powerful enough to inflict change on Ireland's appalling circumstances

Jonathan Swift’s Essay A Modest Proposal, and Voltaire’s Novella, Candide

1158 words - 5 pages There are two vastly differing works of literature that employ similar elements of satire, whether the story is long or short, essay or novella. In these two works, the authors bring light to ongoing social, political, and philosophical issues of their time and age. The two works I am referring to are Jonathan Swift’s satirical essay, A Modest Proposal, and Voltaire’s novella, Candide, or Optimism. In both A Modest Proposal and Candide, there

A Modest Proposal, by Jonathan Swift

1247 words - 5 pages aspersions on his intended audience. Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” employs despicably vivid satire to call for change in a world of abuse and misfortune. The entire proposal stands as a satire in itself; an analogy paralleling the tyrannical attitude of the British toward their Irish counterparts. In short, Swift suggests that parents of Ireland are owned by the British, and babies are property of their parents, therefore, England has a

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

Similar Essays

Jonathan Swift's Essay, A Modest Proposal

657 words - 3 pages Jonathan Swift's Essay, "A Modest Proposal" Jonathan Swift in his essay, "A Modest Proposal" suggests a unique solution to the problem concerning poor children in Ireland. Swift uses several analytical techniques like statistics, induction, and testimony to persuade his readers. His idea is admirable because he suggests that instead of putting money into the problem, one can make money from the problem. However, his proposal is inhumane

Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal Essay

1247 words - 5 pages “A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift takes place in Dublin Ireland in the 18th century. The narrator is a very ironic character. His “modest” proposal is anything but modest. This short story takes place during a famine. Since there was a famine, Swift proposes the idea that people sell their one year old children to the rich so they would not be a burden to their family. One important way in which the author engages the audience’s

"A Modest Proposal" By Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal"

709 words - 3 pages Throughout world history many nations have struggled to maintain financial order. Ireland is no exception; in fact the Irish people experienced an extreme case of poverty and desperation. Among other things, the people and children were starving, causing malnutrition and the inevitable fate of an unpromising future for the growing population. Ireland could not feed its rapidly increasing population. Jonathan Swift suggests a solution to the

Persuasive Letter In Support Of Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal"

1139 words - 5 pages certain fields, such as English, mathematics, or science. Yet, the question arises as to what Jonathan Swift presents, as in a fact or technique, in his morbid essay, "A Modest Proposal", that compels our astute teachers to accept his repulsive work as a part of our children's educational curriculum. You, and even I at one time, felt "mortified" by the literal implication of Swift's "appall[ing]" essay; however, I now present a "modest proposal