Satire in a Modest Proposal

In: English and Literature

Submitted By mephy9
Words 1266
Pages 6
Very “Modest” Irony and Satire
Jonathan Swift was born in Ireland in the 18th century during an era that has come to be known as the Golden Age of Satire. As a writer, he was profoundly influenced by the political climate of his times, especially the plight of the Irish poor, which spurred him to write the satirical, social commentary “A Modest Proposal.” The satirical essay addresses the issue of inequality and poverty experienced by the Irish through an outlandish solution that is “beneficial” to everyone. Verbal is present throughout the essay and even in the title. The proposal is far from modest and is rather shocking which Swift does to grab the attention of the reader. He satirically recommends commoditizing Irish babies to improve the economic outlook by selling poor Irish babies to the rich as a delicious food item. Swift’s proposal in his essay is a technique used to highlight a real issue and bring awareness to it by ridiculing the public (reader) through satire. The definition of satire is the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, and ridicule to expose and criticize people’s vices. In “A Modest Proposal,” Swift does exactly that through clever social commentary on the issue of poverty among the poor in Ireland through the various forms of satire.
Swift differentiates the social classes in his writing through imagery, detailing the differences between the rich and the poor. He states, “Prodigious number of children in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers…is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom, a very great additional grievance” (Par 2). Through this quote Swift emphasizes that the multitude of Irish children is a terrible problem aggravating an already “deplorable state of the kingdom.” After Swift briefly describes the terrible economic and social situation in the Ireland, he then turns to his consideration and…...

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