"A Modest Proposal" by Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal"

Essay by pimptHigh School, 11th gradeB+, June 2003

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Throughout world history many nations have struggled to maintain financial order. Ireland is no exception; in fact the Irish people experienced an extreme case of poverty and desperation. Among other things, the people and children were starving, causing malnutrition and the inevitable fate of an unpromising future for the growing population. Ireland could not feed its rapidly increasing population. Jonathan Swift suggests a solution to the growing problem plaguing Ireland in A Modest Proposal. Throughout the article, Swift makes a motion for the "prevention of the children of poor people in Ireland from being a burden to their parents or country, and for making them beneficial to the public (A Modest Proposal, John Swift. 1729.)" Swift outlines the benefits of cannibalism, particularly pertaining to infants. Using logic Swift describes how his scheme will help the poor of Ireland, the impact it will have on society, and suggests practical ways of feeding the Irish people.

Throughout his explanation of the idea of serving infants at dinnertime, Swift states "it is true, a child just dropped from its dam may be supported by her milk for a solar year, with little other nourishment; at most not above the value of 2s." This is a small price to pay, which "the mother may certainly get from her lawful occupation of begging." Now if a mother indeed nurses her child so that it is marketable, it is believed that "no gentleman would repine to give ten shillings for the carcass of a good fat child." Therefore a mother is making a reasonable profit on her 2s; she "will have eight shillings net profit, and be fit for work till she produces another child." Not only will a mother make money off of the carcass alone, but for "those who are more...