Compare and Contrast on A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift

  • Category: Books, Literature,
  • Words: 639 Pages: 3
  • Published: 29 March 2021
  • Copied: 121

In Swift's strategic essay, “A Modest Proposal”, He informs us how serious the poverty situation in Ireland really is. Swift proposes an idea to solve the poverty problem by having the Irish sell children for food. This is an outrageous idea but it sure brings attention to the situation. Throughout Swift’s satirical essay, “A Modest Proposal,” he achieves his purpose of bringing attention to the poverty problem through the use of irony and sarcasm; however, sarcasm is more effective at achieving his purpose and affecting the audience overall.

The use of irony is used throughout Swift’s essay. He uses irony to bring attention to the issues going on in Ireland. For example, irony is seen when the speaker says “I profess, in the sincerity of my heart, that I have not the least personal interest in endeavoring to promote this necessary work”, (619). This is an example of situational irony by the way the speaker expresses he needs help. By the speaker saying this, he can help the audience understand that he just wants what best for them. Another example of situational irony is “I have no children by which I can propose to get a single penny; the youngest being nine years old, and my wife being past childbearing,” (619). The speaker is stating that he is exempt from his own ridiculous idea. He uses irony to show that he really isn't gaining anything from this but that he just wants to help out with the situation. 

Alongside irony is sarcasm. Sarcasm is seen all through the essay and is a very big part of bringing awareness to the problem the irish are facing. The speaker gives a good example of sarcasm when he says “Those who are more thrifty (as I must confess the times require) may flay the carcass; the skin of which artificially dressed will make admirable gloves for ladies, and summer boots for fine gentlemen,” (614). This is obviously sarcasm because killing children for clothing is absolutely ridiculous and crazy. He gives this idea to help out with not only to decrease overpopulation, but they can also use the skin and bones for other materials. Sarcasm is also seen when the speaker says “Infants flesh will be in season throughout the year, but more plentiful in march, and a little before and after,”(613). This kind of sarcasm shows how crazy of an idea this is to eat children. Though this would never be done, it’s just another way to help the problem. 

All throughout the story the speaker uses sarcasm and irony to bring attention to the overpopulation issue Ireland. Overall sarcasm was the best strategie used to get his point across. “A young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout,”(613) This quote is basically Swift explaining the all ways the children be prepared to eat. Sarcasm is also shown inthe quote, “ I rather recommend buying the children alive, and dressing them hot from the knife as we do roasting pigs,”(613) If he didn’t get his point across earlier about his plot then he probably did now. As we can tell from this quote he is comparing the children to pigs. He’s basically saying these kids are nothing in society and are only worth the same as livestock.

By reading “A Modest Proposal” we can tell that Swift uses a bunch of Irony and Sarcasm throughout his essay. For the speaker to execute change in what's happening in Ireland, he had to go a little overboard in his idea to help with the overpopulation. Sarcasm was the overall more powerful strategy used in his essay. He uses sarcasm as his main strategy to grab the reader's attention on how bad the issue really is in Ireland. Irony is used a good amount but not as effective as sarcasm. You can tell Swift really wants change in what's going on which is why he uses these strategies to get the point across and effectively get your attention.


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