Sunday, May 15, 2011

Swift's "A Modest Proposal"

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“A Modest Proposal”

By Jonathan Swift


Jonathan Swift’s “ Modest Proposal” in my opinion was written to exploit the socioeconomic issues of Ireland, in a kind of funny and subtle way. It was his way of drawing attention to the problem of a poverty-stricken, uneducated and oppressed population of Ireland. I felt that Swift used irony to tell his story. In fact I found is proposal quite ironic, since surely, no one would take his proposal seriously. Although I found the story to be shocking, I think that is just what Swift intended it to be. By reducing the poor people of Ireland to the level of foodstuff, Swift exposed just how much indifference these impoverished people were treated by their wealthy British neighbors. He seems to rationalize his proposal by stating his proposal will help the overpopulated poor, who can’t afford to care for there children, and the rich, who will get a good meal out of the whole process. He even states how to prepare them for a meal, how many meals you can get out of a child.


He gets your attention right from the beginning when he describes what a tourist might see if he or she were to walk down the streets of Ireland. According to Swift, one might see a mother panhandling for food or money to bring in income to care for their children. You could definitely compare and contrast his “Modest Proposal” to the socioeconomic problems we see today in our own society. We see many people panhandling on street corners, homeless people living on the street and in shelters. Most, even if they could get a job they would have no transportation, or could not afford the cost of childcare. I cannot help but think how history is repeating itself as I read his proposal. We see the exact same things today in our own world. We are over populated and do not have enough jobs to support all the population, therefore we see people on welfare and begging on the streets. I think Swift wrote “A Modest Proposal” to get a reaction out of the wealthy people since most of the poor people of this time were not able to read. Had it been any other way the poor commoners might have revolted out of fear for the safety of their children.




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