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Modest Proposal Essay, Research Paper

Not So Modest Proposal

In 1729, with A Modest Proposal , Jonathan Swift raised the argument that, For preventing the children of poor people in Ireland from being a burden to their parents or country, and for making them beneficial to the public (44), we should rid ourselves of them by our own consumption. We should bake them, fry them, or serve them in a fricassee or ragout. Swift proposes his humble thoughts, for which he expects no objection, on the idea that it would be beneficial to the parents, the country, and even the children if they were to be eaten. He also states that anyone who objects should ask the parents of these mortals whether they would not at this day think it a great happiness to have been sold for food at a year old (49). Swift backs up his ingenious scheme with previous accounts of success by gentlemen in America and other parts of the world. This shows that his idea is creditable because it has worked on previous occasions. This wondrous idea has so many benefits that it s hard to see how anyone would be so close-minded to disagree. For instance, poor tenants would have something of value which could help them pay rent and also it would greatly increase the sales at taverns where the cooks would strive to find the best recipes for their new delicacy. Finally it would be a great advantage to those getting married, where as they could sell their children for profit ( with the children s best interest in mind, of course). Swift has a very logical approach to dealing with the poor and starving. If they were to be eaten it would get rid of the problem and also create new opportunities for others in the community. This argument is emotionally sound as well. Swift only wants the best for the children and his country. He has no ulterior motives to profit from his idea because he has no young children and his wife is past child bearing age.When first read, this work could be seen as an appalling display of selfishness and greed but when further analyzed it should be seen as just the opposite. Although Swift s literal argument is that we should eat the poor children to rid ourselves of their burden, his real argument is that we should, in fact, care for and treat the children with the respect and decency they deserve. It is because of this underlying argument that i wholeheartedly agree with A Modest Proposal .Swift believes that the condition of the children in Ireland is so intolerable that they would be better off dead. This argument can also be seen in the youth of America today. Many children these days lack the moral guidance that is needed to become upstanding members of society. This generalization of today s youth is shown through the absence of attention from their parents, the condescending perception by society, and their consistent decline of hope, probably much like it was in Swift s time. This absence of attention can be seen through parents disregarding their responsibility to be role models as they sit their children in front of the television for hours at a time allowing them the media to saturate the children with their ideas of responsibility and values. What kind of moral values does the media teach children? The obvious answer is none. The media simply instills an exceptance of violence, greed, and lust into the fragile minds of young children. Not much attention is paid to this issue because most of todays society views all children as a burden and something to be dealt with rather than something to cherish and be proud to have. This in turn leads to the hopelessness of a misguided generation. A generation that perceives themselves as being incompetent to fulfill societal norms. A generation that settles for what they get and does not fight for something better. As the evidence shows, A Modest Proposal outlines a fool-proof plan of easing the suffering of Ireland s youth ,in Swifts time, and the youth of today alike. Swift was neither greedy nor selfish. He only understood what needed to be done and figured this was the best way to get the publics attention. The only way to improve the state of our society is through the betterment, care, and love of all children. They must grow up knowing that they are believed in and that they have worth. By no means should we ever give up our hope in them.


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