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Satire Of A Modest Proposal Essay

1395 words - 6 pages

Irony is a beautiful technique exercised to convey a message or call a certain group of people to action. This rhetorical skill is artfully used by Jonathan Swift in his pamphlet “A Modest Proposal.” The main argument for this mordantly ironic essay is to capture the attention of a disconnected and indifferent audience. Swift makes his point by stringing together a dreadfully twisted set of morally untenable positions in order to cast blame and 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 and the use of babies as an economic commodity. In short, Swift suggests that Irish parents are owned by the British, and babies are property of their parents, therefore, England has a right to consume the Irish babies. Swift uses this syllogism to show the British that their despotic reign in Ireland has left the miserable nation in poverty and disarray. Historically, it has been evidenced that England first colonized Ireland for security against, at that time, the Irish barbarians that inhabited the land. Thus, England continues to justify their power over Ireland as “restraining the temptation to consume among England's enemies” (Mahoney). Along with “the assurance of English military power to defend the colony from threat,” the degree of “English political and economic control that the colonists deeply resented,” grew exponentially into a full blown autocracy over Ireland (Mahoney). Swift writes, “Some persons of a desponding nature are in great concern.” This is not simply a concern over the number of poor and malnourished in the country as Swift writes in the text; rather it is an indirect hollering of Swift declaring the nation is in shambles and the people are suffering. The British have reigned over the Irish so long and so cruelly that they have left Ireland in “state of dependence” psychologically, politically, and economically. In other words, the “ideology of Protestant consumption” has “actually eroded” the self-confidence and sense of worth of the Irish so badly that it has left Ireland a nation unable to sustain itself (Mahoney). England is eating up Ireland. But this tribulation cannot be blamed solely on the British. Swift cleverly condemns the British aristocracy for their mistreatment of the Irish people while also criticizing the Irish people for allowing this exploitation.
The Irish have done nothing to halt the terrorizing nature of their domineering counterparts. Swift uses this proposal to “the wretched Irish situation” (Lockwood). By “rigorously underplaying the aspect of fantasy in his proposal,” Swift suggests the Irish have arrived at a condition in which such a plan may be seriously considered (Lockwood). Booth describes that every detail of Swift’s proposal “supports the...

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