A MODEST PROPOSAL BY JONATHAN SWIFT

Arguably, the most famous satirical essay in the English language is written by Jonathan Swift entitled “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”, commonly referred to as A Modest Proposal. This Juvenalian satirical essay was published anonymously in 1729.

Swift offers a solution to Ireland’s food shortage by suggesting to the impoverished Irish population to sell their children as food for the wealthy land owners. By selling their children, overpopulation is effectively addressed and it will ease the economic troubles of the poor families while providing them with a little extra income. Such will add to the culinary experience of the rich and he even suggests some recipes for the new meat.

Widely regarded as a foremost prose satirist; Swift’s essay A Modest Proposal is part of many literature programs to illustrate the early modern western satire. It is often used as a great introduction to the concept and use of argumentative language. A Modest Proposal is a relevant piece even outside of the realm of English studies, it is included in many comparative and global literature and history courses. It is mentioned in numerous other disciplines in the arts, humanities, and even the social sciences.

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