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Satire in "A Modest Proposal"

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October 9th, 2007 Satire in "A Modest Proposal" Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" is a satirical essay written to describe Ireland's problems in 1729. Satire is defined as "The use of mockery, sarcasm, or humor in a literary work to ridicule or attack human vice."1 I used this definition to further clarify the use of satire in Swift's work; however I will begin by explaining the use of Swift's tone. In the later part of my essay, I will introduce excerpts of Swift's "A Modest Proposal" that amplify the satire with humor. In his essay, Swift uses satire to humiliate the Irish in their time of pain. Ireland was a country full of misery, having over-populated land and insufficient nourishment for everyone, this nation was clearly in need of help. Swift mocks the Irish by claiming he has found a solution to their worries. ...read more.


For instance, Swift humbly proposes his own thoughts (1114), where, in this case, the word "humbly" gives the reader a protective feeling when evaluating his proposal. Nevertheless, Swift's humble thoughts are not enough to convince even the poorest Irishman or woman. Another aspect of the tone that lures the reader in believing this ridiculous suggestion is how Swift constantly justifies his ideas. The facts and reasons that strengthen his plan are used as pillars in the satirical tone. Swift mentions six true, yet irrational reasons on why his proposal could help Ireland. For examples, he claims that "it would greatly lessen the number of Papists" and that "the poorer tenants will have something valuable of their own" (1116-1117). Swift also brings into play extremely foolish facts about the breeders who will save money on raising children (1117). ...read more.


In other words one hundred thousand children would be sold as food, but as Swift sincerely declares he cannot be part of this proposal, because he has no children to spare, and his wife is past childbearing (1119). This very last sentence at the end of the essay is the final dash of satire we feel when reading, however it is the most powerful, since throughout his proposal, Swift had no intention in joining this movement. When we look deeper in this essay's satire we recognize that Swift is mocking Ireland's horrific conditions. Swift's satire is created by the sincerity in his tone and humor in his reasoning. Even though a thorough reading of this proposal can push some readers in believing in such monstrosities, it is only Swift's unique satire that tricks gullible minds. ...read more.

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