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A Moest Proposal Essay, Research Paper

In Jonathon Swifts A Modest Proposal, one of the voices that is present throughout the story is that of irony. The story itself is ironic since no one can take Swifts proposal seriously. This irony is clearly demonstrated at the end of the story. Swift makes it clear that this proposal would not affect him since his children were grown and his wife unable to have any more children. It would be rather absurd to think that a rational man would want to both propose this and take part in the eating of another human being. Therefore, this is a fictional work and Swift had no intention of pursuing his proposal.

Another voice that is present throughout the entire story is that of sarcasm. Right from the first paragraph Swift attempts to fool his readers by the sarcasm of the dreary scene that Swift presents. For example, he mentions that it is a melancholy sight to see beggars and their children on the street. The sarcastic paradox in this statement is whether it is a melancholy object for him, having to see homeless people every day, or for the beggars lifestyle? Upon first reading this one may be led to believe that Swift is a compassionate writer attempting to feel the pain of the beggars. But as the story continues, a reader can look back and note that he is using a sarcastic tone and the only sad sight that he sees is the fact that people of his status have to deal with commoners. This leads to the underlying statements that appear throughout the story. It is quite clear that Swift has strong feelings of resentment, for the poor people that wonder the street. For example, he tries to qualify his proposal by saying, “it is very well known that they are dying, and rotting , by cold and famine, and filth, and vermin . . . they cannot get work and consequently pine away for want of nourish.”. Once a reader understands this, they can see the true purpose of his proposal. He wants to lower the population of beggars in his country, so what better way to do it than by putting an end to the younger generation of beggars? This is also proven since throughout the story he only mentions that the upper-class of society would be able to purchase the sacrificial children. The upper-class would also take the carcasses and use them to, “make admirable gloves for ladies summer boots for fine gentlemen.”. Also, when he makes his calculations as to how many children would be available for sale, he never takes into account the children from the rich families. In short, Swifts message is that rich children serve a purpose, the advancement of Ireland, while poor children are nothing but a burden to the republic.

One other clear indication that Swift was motivated by his hatred for the poor is the list of six reasons that he write to qualify his proposal. In the third statement, Swift explains how by buying the children and then selling them to their friends, the upper-class can keep on thriving. This was a plan to get themselves even more rich, as Swift states, “the money will circulate among ourselves, the goods being entirely of our own growth and manufacture.”. Secondly, he also compares this type of meal to that of eating a pig. He elaborates by naming a variety of ways that you can cook the child, use if for bacon, or to make clothing.He never once mentions what the poor people can gain after they have been paid the purchasing price. He only mentions the benefits of the rich. Swift wants the reader to believe that he was not attempting to bring harm to the people of his country, on the contrary, he was only trying to make his friends rich. This is another demonstration of the sarcasm and irony that Swift uses to both persuade and deceive the reader.


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