A Modest Proposal Name:____________________
Tone & Satire Analysis
Examine the passages from A Modest Proposal below and highlight/underline any words or phrases that contribute to Swift’s ironic tone. Annotate as needed. Then answer the questions below each passage.
The question therefore is, how this number shall be reared and provided for, which, as I have already said, under the present situation of affairs, is utterly impossible by all the methods hitherto proposed. For we can neither employ them in handicraft or agriculture; we neither build houses (I mean in the country) nor cultivate land. They can very seldom pick up a livelihood by stealing till they arrive at six years old, except where they are of towardly parts; although I confess they learn the rudiments much earlier, during which time they can however be looked upon only as probationers, as I have been informed by a principal gentleman in the county of Cavan, who protested to me that he never knew above one or two instances under the age of six, even in a part of the kingdom so renowned for the quickest proficiency in that art.
What social problem does Swift blame for the widespread thievery in Ireland?
Which instances of irony best illustrate Swift’s attitude toward the poor children of Ireland? Why?
Those who are more thrifty (as I must confess the times require) may flay the carcass; the skin of which artificially dressed will make admirable gloves for ladies, and summer boots for fine gentlemen.
Understatement is an ironic device that creates emphasis by saying less than is expected or appropriate. In what way are these lines an example of understatement?
How do these lines and the device of understatement contribute to Swift’s overall satirical message?
…for as to the males, my American acquaintance assured me from frequent experience that their flesh was generally tough and lean, like that of our schoolboys, by continual exercise, and their taste disagreeable; and to fatten them would not answer the charge. Then as to the females, it would, I think with humble submission, b...