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Literary Analysis of a Modest Proposal by Johnathan Swift

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Johnathan Swift was an Irish author, clergyman and a satirist was born in Dublin, Ireland in November 30, 1667, two months after the death of father, he lived with his uncle. He received a bachelor degree from Trinity college and then worked as a stateman’s assistant. He later became dean of St Patrick’s church. Although he was involved in Irish politics and was interested in pointing out the bad part of politics in Ireland, he got frustrated because there was no positive outcome, and then he channeled these feelings into writing. A Modest Proposal is a satirical essay written and published by Jonathan Swift in 1729. By the time the book was published, Ireland had been under English rule for over 500 years. It talks about how to prevent the children of the poor people in Ireland from being a burden on their parents or country and for making them beneficial to the public. The author suggests that poor Irish might be free from worries or problems in their economy by selling their babies to the rich people and eating their young to help eradicate unemployment and overpopulation in Ireland. Johnathan Swift masterfully uses specific styles of writing to illustrate why the English should eat the Irish.

Swift uses imagery to let the reader fully experience the story being told to them and to make it look real in the reader’s imagination. The reason he uses imagery is to make people laugh and help the reader understand the point he is making. Swift gives the detail of how the poor are being treated. He thinks the poor are being maltreated, but they are too healthy to be belittled. He advised that the poor should not be treated badly. Swift states that “ A 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 fricasie, or a ragoust”. He uses the quote to propose what he can do with less fortunate which is getting other people to help him get as many poor people as they can off the street. He described all the cooking style and how delicious babies will be, which literally means the rich are eating the future of the poor and taking advantage of them. Swift uses imagery to express the point that the Irish value rich people more than the poor people.

Swift uses irony to create suspense that helps the reader become more interested in the story and catching their attention. The writer believes that his solution would solve many problems for the Irish. He recommends “Voluntary abortions, and that horrid practice of women murdering their bastard children, alas! Too frequent among us: sacrificing the poor innocent babies”. He explains how common it is for women to kill their children by abortion which is his plan too. The writer just wants women to keep their children alive long enough so they can make a profit. The poor will have something of their own and women will be treated with more respect. The irony is that the reader know that what Swift said it is happening is not actually happening because it is impossible to do so.

Swift uses satire as way to express the issue of poverty in Ireland and to mock the rich perspective of the poor during the famine. Swift uses satire to mock the rich by stating “deplorable state of the Kingdom, a very great additional grievance”. He states the situation of the poor in Ireland was deplorable, which means something must be done to help them. He suggested that whoever could find out a fair, cheap and easy method of making these children sound and useful members of the common-wealth, would deserve so well in public, as to have his statue set up for up for a preserver of the nation. Swift does not say eating children is a reasonable solution to the problem. He was just demonstrating wicked and heartless attitude of the rich, while pointing out the issues he sees with the Irish government. He states that society does not value poor people. This means the rich are taking advantage of the poor and figuratively eating the future of the poor. Swift uses satire to make the reader think about the condition of the poor in Ireland and what should be done.

Swift uses imagery, irony, and satire to criticize the treatment of poor people by the rich and the Irish government. This shows how satire and irony can be used to draw attention to injustice, using humor to gain readers and soften the criticism. Swift uses imagery of the cooked babies, the irony of voluntary abortions and the satirical depiction of the rich class in Ireland to make point that the poor has to be valued in the society. Swift reveals how bad life can be now and how it will be if there is no law governing it. Ultimately, a lot of moral lessons can be learned from the story which can help in the present era by teaching people to work in order to satisfy their wants and meet their needs.

Works Cited

  • https://www.biography.com/scholar/jonathan-swift, Dec 8,2014
  • Swift, Jonathan, 1667-1745. A Modest Proposal. The Power of Language E Reader.

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Literary Analysis Of A Modest Proposal By Johnathan Swift. (2021, November 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 21, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/literary-analysis-of-a-modest-proposal-by-johnathan-swift/
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Literary Analysis Of A Modest Proposal By Johnathan Swift [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Nov 10 [cited 2022 Jan 21]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/literary-analysis-of-a-modest-proposal-by-johnathan-swift/
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