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A Modest Proposal Essay

1421 words - 6 pages

In Jonathan Swift'sA Modest Proposal, the tone of a Juvenalian satire is evident in its text. Swift uses the title of his essay to begin his perfect example of a Juvenalian satire. Swift gives a moral justification to the dehumanization of the Irish and attempts to provide 'logical' solutions to their problems. Despite Swift's use of belittling language towards the Irish, he uses positive strategy to make his true point known. Swift declares children as the underlying cause of the parents' inability to obtain a successful occupation. Swift's scornful disregard for infants is one ploy in attracting the attention of the population. Swift uses a rhetorical style that causes the reader to loathe ...view middle of the document...

Tremendously disgusted with the speaker's solutions, the readers protest to the inhumane living conditions of the Irish lower-class. In order to clear all doubt against Swift's proposal, he addresses the problem of possibly destroying the Irish race if their infants are all sacrificed. Swift proposes saving a number of children, strictly for procreation. The narrator says, "I do therefore humbly offer it to the public consideration that of the hundred and twenty thousand children already computed, twenty thousand may be reserved for breed; whereof only one fourth part to be males, which is more than we allow to sheep, black cattle, or swine; and my reason is that these children are seldom the fruits of marriage, a circumstance not much regarded by our savages; therefore, one male will be sufficient to serve four females" (384). In the midst of all the absurd proposals, Swift also introduces his genuine reforms. He includes discouraging vanity, taxing absentee landlords, and encouraging domestic trade by purchasing Irish goods and services. By using such ridiculous ideas, Swift enables himself to introduce his actual beliefs. Swift's real views are considerably more plausible than the ideas of the speaker.Swift again degrades Irish by depicting them as commodities rather than people. His disregard of the audience's honor creates an underlying grim mood throughout the essay. Swift obtains the readers' attention by creating a feeling of hatred toward the narrator, who treats the Irish as objects. The narrator mentions, "But my intention is very far from being confined to provide only for the children of professed beggars: it is of a much greater extent, and shall take in the whole number of infants at a certain age, who are born of parents in effect as little able to support them, as those who demand our charity in the streets" ( ). He depicts the Irish as beggars and unfit parents. Yet Swift's condescending attitude towards the Irish is merely a ploy in presenting his real concern, which is a criticism of the terrible living conditions in Ireland.Jonathan Swift establishes a resentful perspective towards children in the beginning of his proposal. He views infants as a hindrance on the adults' ability to acquire prosperous professions. As the narrator states: "These mothers, instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in strolling to beg sustenance" (383). Swift declares that newborns of poor families automatically cause the mother to become a beggar. As the narrator states: "It is true a child just dropped from its dam may be supported by her milk for a solar year with little other nourishment; at most not above the value of two schillings, which the mother may certainly get, or the value in scraps, by her lawful occupation of begging; and it is exactly at one year old that I propose to provide for them in such a manner as instead of being a charge upon their parents or the parish" (384). Swift...

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