Discussion of Swift- “A Modest Proposal”

Swift’s audience is the public in Ireland. Swift is emphatic about ending the public problem that Ireland is facing as a country, which is overpopulation. He comes up with a very radical proposal which he calls ‘modest’. The author gives a candid description of the situation and goes ahead to quote national statistics related to the phenomenon. The author gives a national perspective on the effects of his solution. By reducing the number of poor kids in the streets the country would experience reduced abortions and reduced cases of child murder, especially by their mothers.

Right at the beginning of the essay, Swift addresses the audience by smacking the reality on the ground on their faces. Through this method, the author is able to paint a graphic situation in the minds of the audience. As such, the audience is in a position to give the author attention in his attempt to describe a solution to the problem. The introduction is vivid as it touches the core of the problem and does so in a simple but effective way.

Swift’s idea of the poor selling their children above one year as delicacies to the rich is emphatic. Though the point it satirical, Swift is able to evoke the emotions of the readers and let their anger towards his proposal drive them for a moment. He does not literally mean to have the children slaughtered, but he means that the children should be handed over to the rich (by then it was the British landlords) who would find them something to do, probably in the plantations. Through this intervention, the poor would have been saved the burden of poverty, while the rich would pay for them and finally put them into productive use.

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