A Modest Proposal: Overview

Published: 2021-07-02 05:07:55
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Category: A Modest Proposal

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The implied thesis in Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal is of course not really what the author is seriously suggesting. The essay is in fact meant as a satire to present social issues about the Irish.

The real thesis of the essay is that England has oppressed Ireland so much that solutions to poverty became scarce. Proposing to use children as food is a sarcastic way of saying that the situation of Ireland is almost hopeless that he is coming up with solutions that are impossible. I think this is the only and main thesis of the essay.



2. The author is not the same as the proposer in the essay—the two should be seen as different entities and with different intentions. The proposer is serious in his proposal to use children as food as a solution to Irish poverty while the author, Jonathan swift, uses satire as a method of showing how the English have ridiculed the Irish. The proposer is so serious in his proposal that he even provides arguments to validate his proposal and mentions the benefits that the Irish would get if his proposal is adopted. The proposer is exactly the kind of perspn Swift is afraid that his countrymen would become into.
3. It is quite possible to read the essay as a serious proposal solely because of the manner in which it is presented. The tone of the essay is so serious that readers may almost forget the atrocity of cannibalism. But in general, upon learning that cannibalism IS the proposed solution, any thoughts of taking this proposal seriously should be thrown out the window.
4. In paragraphs 4, 6, and 7, the benefits of adopting the proposal are shown by expressing it in mathematical and economic terms. Examples are: “not above the value of 2s” in paragraph 4. In paragraph 6, the economic translation is more evident: “I calculate there may be about two hundred thousand couple whose wives are breeders”; and in paragraph 7: “they will not yield above three pounds, or three pounds and half-a-crown at most on the exchange.”
5. Readers would realize that the essay is ironic even before the actual proposal is mentioned in paragraph 10.  In paragraph 6, the narrator refers to wives as “breeders.” The word breeder is often attributed to animals therefore giving a hint of what the proposal is really about.
6. England is the receiver of this satirical essay and is evident when the narrator suggests that he could have thought of a country that would eat a child even without salt. “I could name a country, which would be glad to eat up our whole nation without it.” Although it is not clearly stated that it was England, England is the only country mentioned that has anything to do with the Irish’s poor conditions. The narration is pretty much biased against England. The Irish are not blamed for what was happening to them.
7. The essay does not function merely as a satirical attack through irony. In the essay, Swift suggests several possible solutions to the Irish problem. Like in paragraph 6, the narrator says that they do not employ the people in handcraft or agriculture. The narrator also says that they do not build houses nor cultivate land. Through irony, Swift is suggesting that they do those things in order to help the Irish population.

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