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Based on "A Modest Proposal," to what extent does Swift blame Ireland's plight on...

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Kaitbrack | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 3, 2013 at 6:11 PM via web

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Based on "A Modest Proposal," to what extent does Swift blame Ireland's plight on England, and to what extent does he blame Ireland's plight on the Irish? 

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writergal06 | Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted October 3, 2013 at 6:48 PM (Answer #1)

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In this satirical essay, Swift does show both the English and the Irish has contributing to the poverty and starvation of the people in Ireland. His emphasis is more on fixing the problem than identifying a person to blame, though he emphasizes Ireland's contribution more. As for England, Swift mentions absentee landowners preying on the poor in Ireland. He calls them out for their high rent and low value. In the last few paragraphs of the essay, though, Swift focuses on what the Irish could be doing (but are not) that would help their situation: "taxing our absentees...using...what is of our own growth and manufacture, rejecting...foreign luxury, curing the expensiveness of pride, vanity, idleness, and gaming..." and the list goes on. While, yes, their is same responsibility directed towards the English, Swift largely is telling the Irish that if they want their situation to change, they need to take steps to force it to change (rather than just lamenting the way things are).

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