A MODEST PROPOSAL BY JONATHAN SWIFT 1
A Modest Proposal is a tract/essay written by Jonathan Swiftin 1729 criticizing the political leadership of Ireland and offeringremedies to the social and economic ills that affected the country atthat time. The essay depicts that the hard economic times in Irelandled to many women engaging in prostitution while the children becamebeggars on the streets. The mothers who gave birth to helplessinfants were extremely poor and since their children could not securejobs in the country, most of them turned to robbery and crime. Theauthor has used statistics and evidence to show how his proposedproject would have brought about economic development. He thinks thatthe children from poor families should be sold for meat at the age ofone, thereby curbing overpopulation and unemployment. Swift usesstatistics to strengthen his argument particularly where he concludesthere are only 120 thousands children being born every year and yetthe country’s population is one million and a half (Swift, 2013).
The essay informed the common people about the challenges broughtabout by the poor leaders in Ireland. Swift’s literary work alsomade the people feel challenged of being incapable of solving theirown problems. Most importantly, Swift attacked the monarchyleadership for failing to solve problems of unemployment andoverpopulation. He also criticized the economic thinkers of the timefor proposing an economic reform based on the theory ofutilitarianism. Swift’s literary work was a satire beginning withhis absurd proposal of selling the children of the poor to a meatmarket. He narrates that a girl or a boy cannot be sold before theage of twelve years, and even when they attain that age, they can’tyield more than three pounds. Swift is satirical when he proposesthat the undernourished children should be fattened up to become thefuture landlords of Ireland. He proposes the application ofscientific management concept to humanitarian concerns whereby thesale of children would relieve mothers from the child upbringingcosts (Greenblatt, 2012).
Greenblatt, S., et al. (Eds.) (2012). The Norton anthology of Englishliterature (9th ed., Vol.1). New York, NY: W. W. Norton &Company, Inc.
Swift, J. (2013). A modest proposal. London: Sheba BlakePublishing.