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Satire Amodest Proposal
A Modest Proposal
A Modest Proposal is everything that a satirical story should be. It includes sarcasm and irony as Jonathan Swift takes us through a roller coaster ride to show us how the poor are treated miserably.
The narrator begins by leading us down a path. He seems sincere and thinks it is a pity how everywhere you walk in the streets of Dublin you see the poor begging people for hand outs. He is seeking a solution to help the commonwealth.
He appears to be a logical, educated person who makes it clear that he has been studying this subject for years. He then tells us that he has a solution to help the babies whose parents cannot afford them. We think his idea will be charitable and will actually help the poor as well as the nation.
The narrator then does something that I think set the tone for the rest of the story. He referred to a baby just born as being dropped from its dam. Animals are dropped from dams, not humans. Therefore poor people in this story are nothing more than animals.
We are told how the children are a burden and how instead of requiring food and clothing the rest of their lives, they will contribute to the feeding and clothing of many people. Any intelligent person would assume he intends to put them in factories or farms to work and not be on the streets begging for food. We are also told that his plan will prevent voluntary abortions and women murdering their bastard babies.
The narrator shows the reader he is serious by producing calculations that appear to be well thought-out and then showing us, through examples, That these children have no future.
Up to this point the narrator appears to be intelligent. He is from the upper class and has low morals. He thinks lowly about the poor but has made several logical assumptions and observations. He has us all wondering what his proposal will be.
He then tells us that a young healthy child at a year old is a most delicious, nourishing and wholesome food. The first thing that went through everyone’s mind is that this man is crazy. Cannibalism? That is disgusting. Yet he continues on as if he said something completely rational and sane. According to his proposal, twenty thousand children may be reserved for breeding which is more than they allow to sheep, black cattle and swine. He is comparing humans to animals again. The rest, being one hundred thousand being sold to persons of quality and fortune. Persons of quality? What kind of person eats a baby? He is even going as far as to tell us to advise the mothers to let their babies suck plentifully in the last month, so as to render them plump and fat for a good table. That is revolting. He is just plain mad. That is the effect I think Jonathan Swift wanted to grab our attention and make us listen to him. That is when the satire starts to unfold and that is when he drops the bomb on us. "I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children." He is telling us we already have cannibalism. The landlords are cruel and inhuman. The landlords have already taken so much from the families, why not give them the babies as well?
It takes approximately two shillings annually to nurse a child, rags included. The children did not even wear clothes because they could not afford them. They wore whatever was cheap and whatever they could find and no gentleman would repine to give ten shillings for the carcass of a good fat child. There is more satire here. What kind of gentleman eats a child? The narrator goes on to tell us that he will be a good landlord and grow popular among his tenants. There is some more satire presented to us. The people will like the landlords for two reasons. One being that they will be getting rid of their babies which they cannot afford. I do not think the people will
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Literature, Fiction, Satire, A Modest Proposal, Great Britain, Pamphlets, Jonathan Swift
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