William Lawless 21FEB09
“A Modest Proposal” or is it?
This story by Jonathan Swift is a plea for the world to help the Irish people, and for the Irish people to help themselves. Having been born into the poverty of 1667 Dublin, Ireland, Jonathan Swift fully experienced the suffering of the Irish people. By the time this story was published in 1729, conditions in Ireland showed no signs of improvement. Swift makes this written proposal to illustrate the desperate conditions the poor in Ireland must endure and the lack of any reasonable efforts to cure it. As a man of the clothe, Swift knew this proposal would spark emotional outrage by both foreigners and the Irish people. It is obvious that he made the proposal so outrageous that no one would consider it serious, yet with enough factual figures to keep the readers interest.
Swift begins the story by describing the hopeless conditions of the time. Because there are no jobs, (mothers…are forced to… beg sustenance for their helpless infants; who as they grow either turn thieves… leave to fight in Spain, or sell themselves to the Barbados). His suggestion that cannibalism would be more humane than their current lifestyle of begging, forced abortion, maltreatment of pregnant women by their husbands or starvation, has sarcastic justification through out the story. He had put great thought to solving the problem, as did others, yet nobody could come up with a resolution. Swift stated that anyone who could find a cure for this problem would “have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation.” This depicted how strong Swift felt about this problem, as in this period of Irish history statues were reserved for the saints and immortality. As an ordained Anglican priest, Swift would have placed a great value on making a statue for anyone that could solve this...