Philosophical Look At Swift’s “a Modest Proposal" This Satirical Social Commentary was to be Addressed and Treated as a Serious Proposition. Also Related to Brit Lit

Essay by 12milehighUniversity, Bachelor'sA, April 2010

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In his essay "A Modest Proposal," Jonathan Swift, suggests that the problems of the poor children of Ireland, who become a burden to their parents and to the nation, as their parents are unable to support or feed them, may be solved if their mothers were to breast-feed their babies until the age of one year, at which time the babies may be sold to the wealthy to be eaten, at a profit and to alleviate further financial burden. Although written in 1729, his essay delivers a direct message to all societies that are struggling to support and feed their less fortunate citizens. This paper will attempt to refute Swift's argument by offering alternative solutions to the poverty issues of the day, rather than the barbaric slaughter of innocents. Although Swift dismisses any opposition by stating that his plan would only be applicable or successful in Ireland and that being a self sustaining country with higher taxes would not be viable, as it would be more likely for his countrymen to approve of his plan than approve of a more humane and socially responsible measure.

There are, of course, other options that will be provided for the reader's further consideration.

The first reason that Swift gives for viability of his proposal is that it would reduce the number of Catholics in the country. Catholics who, as a group, do not practice birth control, tend to have the largest number of children. According to Swift, Catholics are the primary source of the political upset and unrest of the time: the Protestant king had recently been exiled to Spain and the usurper was a Catholic (Parsons). Catholics were associated with the new and unpopular king and thus viewed as a threat that needed to be addressed. To target the...