Hard Times


Hard Times Essay, Research Paper

A Modest Proposal”Jonathan Swift wrote this essay as a satirical proposal for the purpose of exploiting social and economic issues in a sophisticated and comic way. Its main purpose is to prevent the poor people of Ireland, particularly the children, not to be burdens on their parents and to their country and for making them useful to society. This proposal suggesting the idea of cannibalism is a grimly sarcastic letter of recommendation in which the citizens of Ireland suggest that economic conditions could be diminished if the poor parent=s children were used as dainty for the nobles and gentlemen=s dinner table. Swift presented his proposal by making his idea appealing to the public. He does this by focusing on the positive outcome of his proposal: the number of Catholics will be lessened, the poor people will have something to pay their bills with and the shortage of food will be solved.

Swift was concerned mainly with the dilemma of his own class that=s why he made this proposal. He was annoyed at the apathy of the Irish people who got used to their situation that they seemed powerless to change how England and a wealthy Irish businessman mistreated their own kind.

Swift expressed his rage and anger by making his proposal bizarre, which he suggested cannibalism– eating babies, selling them to the market as a source of income. He suggests that since babies cannot be useful to the nation because they are still-dependant on their parents, and since their parents only earn little money, why not treat them as livestock? So that it gives the parent extra money after they sell the babies meat to the market.

” I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children.” In this quotation the proposer suggested that a way for the poor people to pay their rent, by breeding and selling their year old infants to the landlord in order to gain enough money to pay their logging. His intention wasn’t only to help the Irish people but also to ridicule ( in a satirical way) the Catholic religion because it’s a well-known fact that the stereotypical Catholic (native Irish Catholics) likes to have a lot of children and the Anglo Irish (rich Protestant Irish) were worried because they were being out numbered by the native Irish.

The consumption of the poor Irish babies by the rich, implicates that the Protestants are winning the holy religious war by grossly reducing the number of Catholic with respect to the number of Protestant.

This essay can be considered as a work of satire because of Swift’s peculiar idea of making the poor peoples baby as a prime delicacy to feed the starving people of Ireland. He treated the poor people as if they had no personality or character, in other words like animals. Behind this bizarre proposal is a serious Jonathan Swift who is deeply concern in the future of Ireland in the hands of England. ” A Modest Proposal” is a presentation of Swift’s anger and aggravation, but also it is simply the most cruel, the most inhuman and the most heavily ironic proposal in an attempt to humiliate England and to stun Ireland out of its lifeless state.

The cleverest thing that Jonathan Swift does is when he excludes himself by saying ” I have no children, by which I can propose to get a single penny; the youngest being nine years old, and my wife past childbearing.” He makes a final shot at lawmakers, and proves him self a hypocrite, having known fully well that he himself could not have gone through these hardships he proposed–a final bit of humor since he would, ironically, never be able be to profit from his own proposal.

A modern reader would consider this proposal as abhorrent, and a heinous proposal because it deviates all the norms and values of our modern society, but if we are going to look at Swift point of view, it’s not bad at all because his main purpose was not to annihilate the Catholic race, his main purpose was to make England and the wealthy Irish businessmen to be aware of what they are doing.


Student # 9810104

Teacher: Liam Phelan-Cox

Subject: Humanities

April 15, 1999

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