The essay of Jonathan Swift with the complete title of “A
Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from
Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and Making Them Beneficial to the
Public” seeks to address a solution to a problem in that period. The essay was
published on 1729 anonymously in London. Based on the essay, the population of
poor people are accelerating and causes burden not only to the parents but also
to the country. Jonathan Swift is presenting a solution of eating the flesh of
children to lessen the population and the husbands will respect their wives
more since they are the provider.
“In A Modest Proposal, Swift vents his mounting
aggravation at the ineptitude of Ireland’s politicians, the hypocrisy of the
wealthy, the tyranny of the English, and the squalor and degradation in which
he sees so many Irish people living” (“SparkNotes Editor”). The author was
clearly promoting his immoral idea of eating the infants instead of aborting
them as a way of his objection of abortion. The wealthy people did nothing to
find a solution to this problem in result, Jonathan Swift wrote the essay not
only to express but also open the eyes of people about the current situation
that people were suffering.
Selling the children of the poor to feed the rich is
clearly absurd but it served as a weapon to attack the issue of poverty which
have been neglected during the reign of English politicians. Representing these
ideas, Swift caught the attention of many until the twentieth century. The
essay contains negative information but the piece brought positive impact and
achieves the purpose of its irony.
The content of the essay was every detail of the bitter
reality almost every country experiences. Mostly, poor people have lack of
education which increases the ignorance of the effect they bring to the
country. “Ignorance not only affects poverty but it also has an effect on the
cause and the consequences of poverty on humankind” (Johnson 429). Poor
families continue to reproduce not planning how they would raise their
children. As stated on the essay, most beggars found in the streets were female
and most mothers don’t think twice about aborting their own child. Indeed, the
essay presents facts of the reality Jonathan visualizes. The bold proclamations
of the author towards this issue clearly showed immoral solution. The author of
the essay cited the possible advantages if the proposal was implemented which
persuades the readers to support the ideas presented and also it hides the
horrible side of the proposal the author was mentioning. The last paragraph of
the essay stated that the narrator has no other motive but the public good of
the country. This signifies the focus and dedication of the author towards the
development of their country. The author also stated that he would not be
affected of this proposal since the author’s youngest child was not an infant
and the wife past the child-bearing age. The proposal would bring the author no
harm, only the advantages that were mentioned in the essay. For that reason,
the proposal was moral in the author’s eyes and described it as the modest
The imagery of every situation was vivid and clear. The
description of the author was effectively done especially on the first eight
paragraphs of the essay. The words were appropriate and clear to the reader.
The essay was presented with solid and organized ideas but it was too dragging
since reading the essay would take too much time because it was too lengthy. Swift’s
word play may have confused some of the readers because the words were not
common and some were used in political conversations.
The unique style of Jonathan Swift in writing his
proposal also caught the attention of most critics. “A Modest Proposal is
considered one of the finest examples of satire in world literature” (Witalec).
The humour and irony was perfectly aligned with each argument of Jonathan
Swift. With these, the author maintained the seriousness that was necessary and
most importantly the formality of every message. The development of ideas was
smoothly flowing with the factual arguments that the author presented. The
essay was written with a genius author because “Only a true genius could write
something as emotive and realistic and be taken seriously” (Harrison).
The essay is intended only for mature readers. The art of
the expression can only be comprehended with much knowledge and can be
appreciated by few audiences. The proposal contains some explicit information
which is not suitable for very young audiences. The author was consistent of
the techniques used and showed.
The goal of the essay was achieved by turning the heads
of the politicians towards family planning as a better solution to
overpopulation and poverty which has been the problems that were focused in the
essay. The author’s attention to detail is a very helpful ingredient in writing
the essay with the heavy words carrying great meaning and impact to every
sentence. The points of the essay were clearly stated but there were a lot of
jargons that make it difficult to understand. The essay was also long and there
were too much information share but they were necessary information to help
readers understand each situation.
Overall, the piece is striking to the readers and it
represents devotion to one’s country. Jonathan Swift’s essay could be cruel but
at the same time inspiring to some audiences. The essay represents so much
truth and opens the eyes many people. Strong impact is what the essay brings to
the society and it is much relevant to every country.