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In Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal," what bias does the speaker of this essay reveal?

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mischiebunny | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 18, 2011 at 7:19 AM via web

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In Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal," what bias does the speaker of this essay reveal?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 18, 2011 at 9:42 AM (Answer #1)

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In his "Modest Proposal," Jonathan Swift directs his biting satire at the government of the English in Ireland, the English and Irish businessmen, and anyone else who acts in a way that is harmful to the Irish poor. In his essay, for instance, Swift writes,

I am assured by our merchants, that a boy or girl, before twelve years old, is no saleable age, they will no yield above three pounds, or three pounds a crown and a half, at the most.

In addition, Swift satirizes Protestants' in their desire to get rid of Catholics, while at the same time he mocks Catholics for conceiving so many children during Lent, a time when people should practice abstinence.  Clearly, Swift exhibits a bias that Catholics are having too many children since the number of "popish" infants is nearly three-to-one in on the island.  By eating the Catholic infants' flesh, Swift suggests that the population of the Catholics will be reduced. 

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