Imagery In A Modest Proposal

927 Words4 Pages
Should the people of Ireland in the 1700’s have sold their children to the rich to be eaten in order to receive economic benefits? This is exactly what Jonathan Swift in “A Modest Proposal” seemingly proposes the citizens of Ireland do in order to spare the country of financial hardship. However, through careful examination, the reader realizes that Swift does not really want the Irish to sell their children. He instead wants to find a more reasonable solution to Ireland’s many economic problems during this difficult time to help the poor. In order to shock his readers into action and to show the wretchedness of the lives of the poor, Swift utilizes two literary techniques: irony and imagery.
Swift creatively uses irony in his story to
…show more content…
In the first paragraph, Swift begins to use imagery by speaking of melancholy streets with female beggars along with their children standing in the cabin-doors asking every passenger for alms (Swift 1). This sets a vivid image of poor, dirty, children clinging to their mothers with their hands stretched out asking for shillings. In the story Swift talks of a well-known English friend who says a one-year-old child is delicious and nourishing whether baked, boiled, or stewed (Swift 2). This disturbing and twisted image of a young child being cooked and eaten is instilled into the reader’s head. This imagery is used to establish the horror of the children’s lives and to set the English up as monsters. Not much further into the story Swift uses imagery to dehumanize the Irish poor by comparing children to sheep, cattle, and swine. The imagery Swift uses indicates that the country of Ireland looks at their own subjects as animals instead of human beings. In the story Swift proclaims that the carcasses of the children can be used as gloves for the women and summer boots for the men (Swift 3). Imagine women and men who could afford nice clothing in that era walking around with baby skin stretched over their hands and on their feet. To some this image would be enough to make their stomach churn at just
Open Document