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A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift

Updated October 13, 2020
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A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift essay

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The community in the country of Ireland, in the 17th century, are overwhelming the streets with people due to the overpopulation of poor people. This passage takes place in the early 1700’s in the country of Ireland. Jonathan Swift, author of “A Modest Proposal” doesn’t lack from bringing the intense details of the current state of the Irish community. Throughout his story, Swift is able to grab the attention of the readers with the honest importance of finding the cure to the growing social and economic issue. Poverty has struck and the economy is at an all-time low. “A Modest Proposal” is a brilliant piece of neoclassical literature written with logic, reason, and satire to reveal the troublesome importance that is placed on finding the solution to over population and economic concern.

It is crucial to understand the neoclassical artwork through the elements of logic, reason, and satire before the reader can understand correctly the social issues of poverty and economics. Swift uses logic when presenting the solution to fix the economic issue. Jonathan Swift mentions that “the mother will have eight shillings net profit and be fit for work till she produces another child” (371). In this passage, Swift sees that the most logical solution to fix the issue of economics would be to sell babies to gain profit. Of course, he is not being serious about selling literal babies, but is using the literature element of satire to convey comedy. He also used reasoning in data and statistics to support how the expense and price of a child would change depending upon their age, size, and upbringing. Swift continues to state, “a young healthy child well nursed is at a year-old a, most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled, and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee, or a ragout” (370). The element of satire is what made Jonathan Swift the writer that he was and still is known for today. He brings up the idea that the upper class should eat the children to prevent the overpopulation of poor children. This is an intense use of satire meaning to catch the reader’s attention to what individuals had to experience on a day-to-day basis in Ireland.

The country of Ireland is failing because of the overwhelming poverty and due to the number of poor beggars struggling to find their place in the country. The lower class are struggling to find work, clothing, and food for their children due to their current state of poverty. We know this to be true when Jonathan Swift states that “it is agreed by all parties, that this prodigious number of children, in the arms, or on the back, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom” (368). Swift describes to us through the essay how uncomfortable and unpleasant it is for him to watch the little children, that are starving, begging to their parents to do something, when the parents can do nothing for themselves. A child during this time period can only live so long off of its mother’s milk.

Eventually, the child will have to turn to real food, and that is when the issue starts to take root. Poverty was the chief social issue that individuals in “A Modest Proposal” had to face, and yet, poverty was the peak accompanied by economic failure. During the early 17th century in Ireland, money was the root of all pride and success. While the lower social class was running around trying to figure out how to fix this issue, Swift presented them with ideas on how to fix their economic failure. As I mentioned before, Jonathan Swift understands that selling and eating the babies is an outrageous plan, but if someone came up with a plan like it, it could fix all of the following: The poor tenants will start to have something valuable, there will be a lot more money in their own economy, it would improve the relationships of the families in Ireland, and finally, it would bring more money into Ireland to tavern. With the use of babies as food, they would no longer have to rely on other countries to import food to Ireland.

To fully grasp the meaning of “A Modest Proposal”, we have to understand that Swift was bringing the underlined problem to light that both Ireland and England were struggling with poverty and economical disadvantages. Christians around the world should have the same mind set to reach out and help those that are in poverty. What breaks the heart of God should break our heart as well. The Bible states in 1 Corinthians 10:24, “None of you should be looking out for your own interests, but for the interests of others” (NIV). Our job is to provide, pray, and look out of the interest of others putting them before ourselves. If our hearts do not break for the people that are in poverty, then it breaks God’s heart that know that we are lost.

A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift essay

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