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In "A Modest Proposal," Swift lists several proposals that are based on common sense....

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mskansas | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 14, 2011 at 7:41 AM via web

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In "A Modest Proposal," Swift lists several proposals that are based on common sense. Why does he refuse to discuss the alternatives?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 14, 2011 at 7:50 AM (Answer #1)

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It is vitally important to identify the satire and irony that runs throughout the entire essay that Swift wrote. The "other expedients" that Swift suggests and that I assume you are referring to are actually very sensible ideas and suggestions. In reality, Swift previously had championed every one of these measures, yet they were all ignored by the British government. Interestingly, these suggestions were italicised in all editions printed during Swift's lifetime to show that Swift made these proposals with sincerity rather than ironically.

However, by overtly pretending to dismiss such reasonable suggestions, Swift is highlighting the failure of the British government to do anything to alleviate the harsh penury of the Irish. He deliberately brushes aside these suggestions, just as Britain itself brushed them aside in the past. Of course, Swift is not being serious at all in this essay. Rather, his position is deliberately created to highlight the callous and unsensitive way in which Britain was treating the Irish famine.

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