Analysis Of Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal

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One hundred years after Swift penned A Modest Proposal the problem of grave robbing was rife in Scotland. Any cemetery in proximity to a University town was regularly plundered for fresh corpses. It was reported that “the persons interred did not remain in their graves above a night” (Rev. W. Fleming, 1821). There was a huge demand for dead bodies for medical students to dissect. Supply did little to meet demand, so students regularly plundered graves in the name of learning. Fortunately for students of literature there is no need to go to such macabre extremes in order to further knowledge in their specialist field. Students of English Literature need only burgle the bank of literary treasures left to us by esteemed authors. One of these authors is Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), writer, poet and Dean of St Patrick’s, Dublin. Amongst the gems Swift left for dissection by literature students, is an essay published as a pamphlet in 1729 called A Modest Proposal. Through analysis of the…show more content…
The author’s use of satire is superbly honed in this essay. A satirical work ridicules stupidity in other people, and through the use of ironic language implies ideas that are the opposite of those expressed. No finer example than the Proposer of this story, considering cannibalising infants, as a “modest” suggestion for curing poverty in Ireland. Swift spares no one in this essay taking every chance to have a gibe. About landlords he says “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.” (Swift, 1729). So for the English literature student Swift is the master of satire and this essay is “generally considered to be the most famous satirical essay in the English language” (Nordquist,
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