A Modest Proposal By Jonathan Swift: An Analysis

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Register to read the introduction…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 text it becomes apparent that A Modest Proposal is a valuable piece of literature for study by an English Literature student. When first published it caused some minor ripples but the true value of A Modest Proposal, has been realised in later years and is now acknowledged as one of the greatest works of satire in the English language. By studying Swift’s life, the themes and characters he introduces into this work and the literary approach he adopts, it will become clear why this essay is of great value to the student of English…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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