Modest Proposal Essay

535 Words3 Pages
Thomas Jefferson once said that, “man is the only animal which devours his own kind.” This quote, showing the selfishness of mankind, is most historically applicable to the economic climate in 18th century Ireland, where lower class Irish were subject to exploitation from their wealthier absentee landlords. Essayist Jonathan Swift’s essay “A Modest Proposal” is a call to action for the struggling Irish delivered by his harsh and cruel satire. First, Swift addresses the issue and makes an appeal to pathos by portraying a common sight in Dublin, a “[beggar] of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags” (675). Swift brings to the audience’s attention the overwhelming amount of poverty that plagues the city, evoking sympathy and pity. This image will play a role in guiding the reader’s emotion throughout the essay. Next, the author’s persona provides his “solution” to this national dilemma. The modest proposal, which ironically is not modest at all, is to butcher the infants of the poor and serve them as a new delicacy for the wealthy. As a side note, Swift includes that this meat is, “very proper for landlords, who…have already devoured most of the parents” (676). Here, Swift directly links his irony to the actual dilemma. The landlords are draining the lower classes and killing the families by taking and taking mercilessly. Swift’s irony asks those who prosper off of the poor’s shortcomings, “Why not just literally eat them?”This attack on rich shows the audience who is responsible for their suffering. It also gives an idea so monstrous and heartless that the audience would be more inclined to show compassion towards their fellow countrymen when trying to fix their economy. Finally, the persona states that this solution and no other solution will cure the Irish economy. He asks that nobody recommend other solutions, including: taxation

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