Satirical Strategies in Jonathan Swift’s Essay “A Modest Proposal”

In Jonathan Swift’s essay, “A Modest Proposal”, the satirical strategies he uses detract from his purpose and argument of his proposal. His whole essay is obviously satirical, but the strategies and examples he uses detract from what he is really trying to get across. He uses great strategies to explain himself and what he is trying to say about Ireland and the conditions they are in, however, unless you knew him or know somebody else who knows him, you wouldn’t really know it was a satirical essay.

He seems so serious and confident with his writing it is hard to tell that he is really joking and trying to be funny. The essay is about death, so that subject makes it even harder to know it is satirical. Especially because there are so many places around the world that are in these conditions that just thinking about them and reading his essay would have you convinced it is all true.

One way that Jonathan Swift detracts from his purpose of his proposal is by using so many real examples in his essay. If he wants his essay to come out satirical, he needs to not use such real life examples. For example, in paragraph 26 he says, “ Men would become as fond of their wives during the time of their pregnancy as they are now of their mares in foal, their cows in calf, their sows when they are ready to farrow; nor offer to beat or kick them (as it too frequent a practice) for fear of a miscarriage.

”. Even then he states that it is too frequent of a practice. He knows himself that miscarriages happen so frequently around the world. Why would this be funny or be satirical? Miscarriages are not funny and need a solution as well as abuse! It detracts from his purpose of Ireland needing a solution to their poverty and hunger. Another example of a real life example is in paragraph 32 when it states: “misfortunes as they have since gone through by the oppression of landlords, the impossibility of paying rent without money or trade, the want of common sustenance with neither house nor clothes to cover them from the inclemencies of the weather”. There are so many countries and areas around the world that have rags for clothes and huts they live in. They are in need of all these things that Swift is talking about. If Swift wants to be seen as a satirical writer and not detract from his purpose, he needs to not use so many real (and sad) life examples.

Jonathan Swift uses cannibalism as a way to solve Ireland’s need for food and to fix poverty. He thinks that by eating children, there will be less hunger and less poverty because the children will be eaten and not need money to be cared for. For me, I don’t think cannibalism is very satirical writing material. It’s gross and sad to eat little kids. If you didn’t know swift, you would think he hates children and is a cannibal! This doesn’t exactly strike me as satirical writing. In paragraph 9 it talks about how much people one child will serve and seasoned with pepper or salt will be very good boiled. Throughout his whole essay he talks about how much they would cost and who they would feed.

Jonathan Swift’s essay, “A Modest Proposal”, is a very good essay on cannibalism and a way to fix Ireland’s hunger, however I don’t think it enhances his purpose and the argument of his proposal. Although his ways and methods of thinking are pretty good, he needs to use more satirical information and make it not so sad and creepy. Using real life examples of poverty, hunger and cannibalism aren’t they best way to come out to readers as satirical.

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