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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.

In order to do this Swift creates an alter ego, a persona who puts
forth the ghastly proposal but in a logical fashion. Swift uses a
'Juvenalian' sort of satire, a way of getting at the reader without
targeting them directly. Swift tries to expose the reality of Ireland
in a discreet and delicate way. His definition of satire is 'Satire is
a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's
face but their own.' This is true in fact for his proposal as the
people who this proposal is aimed for don't realise that Swift is
talking about them until later on, and that's when they see their own
reflection in Swift's Modest Proposal. This is also described as 'The
iron fist in a velvet glove'. The iron fist is the reality hidden
inside the 'velvet glove', the glove being the tone in which the
proposal is written which is pleasant and subdued.

The title alone for the proposal is described as 'Modest', which in a
way is ironic as there is nothing modest about the 'devouring of the
children of the poor'. The Proposer comes across as reasonable with
his thoughts 'Maturely weighed' and thought through and it is as
though he really does care about the welfare of the poor in Ireland.
'It is a melancholy object…' Here the persona (the one proposing his
ideas of devouring the children of the poor) is showing pity for the
Irish and their 'Poor innocent babes' and gets the reader to go along
with this fake pity for them. The persona seems to be immoral and his
ideas to 'help prevent children from becoming burdens to their
parents' are irrational. His solution is unexpected and a little
revolting as the benefits would be tasty meals for the rich and more
money for the poor, as the solution would be for the poor to sell
their children to the rich for them to devour, which with the
situation of the rich landlords in Ireland,...

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