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How effective is Swift's

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How effective is Swift's "Proposal"? "A Modest Proposal for preventing the children of poor people in Ireland from being a burden to their parents or country, and for making them beneficial to the public" - Jonathan Swift 1729. In reading this you will discover the answer to the above question in three parts; * How effective is it as an argument * How effective is it as a piece of information * How effective is it as satire "A Modest Proposal" first appeared in public in 1729, Swift wrote this article after all of his previous suggestions had been rejected by the Irish authorities. Swift felt the English government had psychologically exiled him and this greatly added to the rage he felt over the way the Irish People were treated or rather mistreated by the English. Although Swift's highest and most prominent concerns were for his own class, the Anglo-Irish, he in the end spoke for the nation as a whole. Swift defined satire as; 'A sort of glass wherein the holders do generally discover everybody's face but their own, which is the chief reason for that kind of reception it meets in the world, and that so very few are offended with it." Swift presents his "Proposal" as an entirely reasonable suggestion to aid the Irish, he enumerates the many benefits, counters the objections many may have, uses rhetoric reasoning and proves his humanitarianism views. ...read more.


1. "it would greatly lessen the number of papists" 2. "the poorer tenants will have something of their own" 3. "the nations stock will be thereby increased fifty thousand pounds" 4. "The constant breeders" "will be rid of the charge of maintaining them after the first year" 5. "This food would likewise bring great custom to taverns" 6. "This would be a great inducement to marriage" Swift has given great attention to the dehumanising conditions of the conditions in which the poor Catholics live in, he has done this through the implications of how terrible it is that the rich have to walk through these heavily populated dilapidated areas. As you can see from the above my opinion is that Swift has eloquently and elegantly structured his arguments to conform to those standards which one would expect from a politically eloquent man, on matters of a serious kind. He has also listed the benefits, as shown just above, so the less intelligent of the literate population will still manage to comprehend the basic benefits rather then being overwhelmed by the complicated wordings of the outstanding gains. He gathers the audience's attention to the causes of the problems, which have been plaguing the Irish for generations, obliquely. Swift brings the extent of poverty in Ireland to the readers attention by admitting that this solution is only suitable to Ireland, he believes that no other country's far enough in debt to steep so low. ...read more.


Swift was entirely aware of this fact, he knew his publication was for the upper-class eyes only. He wrote this "Proposal" safe in the knowledge that no-one would take action against him in any form on the count of slander, since all educated audiences would think of his "Proposal" as a comedy. From all of the above it is clear that Swifts "Proposal" is extremely good at all of the jobs required of it; 1. how effective is it as an argument 2. how effective is it as a piece of information 3. how effective is it as satire Swift has successfully drawn attention to the extremely dire economic state of Ireland and the incompetence of the British government to solve or even begin to contemplate, in Swift's mind, these problems. This "Proposal" should be viewed as a fictional work, designed to entertain the upper-class whilst enlightening them upon the conditions of poverty in their own country. This "Proposal" could be viewed as an attempt to change the ways in which both England and Ireland viewed the state of Ireland, which was in a lethargic state. It is masterful in its own nature, the way in which Swift has challenged the prospect of changing lives and living conditions, while entertaining the audience at the same time. The true irony in "A Modest Proposal" lies not in analysing the minute details, but rather in the context of the "Proposal" as it is written. 1 1 ...read more.

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