Swift’s “a Modest Proposal”– Surprise Ending

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Submitted by to the category Other Topics on 02/11/2013 06:12 AM

“Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" is one of the satires Swift wrote after he was named Dean of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. A modest proposal by Jonathan Swift is fanatically savage and has a very surprise ending. The author uses satire, to make a point about the English government allowing the citizens of Ireland to starve to death. The proposal that he makes is by no means “modest,” hence the sarcastic edge surrounding the title. The essay was written in 1729 and during that time, the entire country of Ireland was under English rule, unlike today where only Northern Ireland remains under English rule. During this time, the Irish people were without work, without food, and without proper housing as English landlords were charging unusual prices for rent, too much for most Irish to afford at the time. As a result, the population was homeless and starving, and the English government was doing absolutely nothing to help them (Henry M. Sayre, 2012, p. 775).

For those who read “A Modest Proposal” for the very first time, many will be horrified by the Swift’s solution to the hunger problem in Ireland. Swift suggests that Irish babies, should be breed until age one, be killed and eaten by humans for food. That way, after the age of one, they will no longer be a burden to their parents, and the parents will be able to sell them for money. Swift makes the point that it would be better to kill and eat these children at age one as opposed to letting them grow up to starve to death, or be figuratively demolished by their landlords.

When the writing started there was nothing to suggest that the author who is known for his rather pensive writing style would come up with this ending. As the readers go through the misfortunes of the poor and the ills meted out to the beggars with no relief for the beggars anywhere in sight, a good proposal from Swift was expected. Instead what he suggests to relieve the problem is shocking. One can only imagine the...

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