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What pieces of evidence support Swift's claims in "A Modest Proposal"?

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kaisiang | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 31, 2011 at 10:31 PM via web

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What pieces of evidence support Swift's claims in "A Modest Proposal"?

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missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 31, 2011 at 11:25 PM (Answer #1)

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It is of great importance from the beginning that we take A Modest Proposal for the satirical work that it is. His being absurd in order to make a point.

One of his claims is that this proposal will

"prevent voluntary abortions, and that horrid practice of murdering ... bastard children!"

He supports this claim by giving hypothetical and numerical evidence. He calculates that "120,000 children of poor parents annually born" plague the society. These could "be reserved for breed..." and "offered for sale to the persons of quality and fortune through the kingdom."

He further gives evidence to the claim for selling children that he has

"been assured by a very knowing American... that a young healthy child well nursed at a year old [is] a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food."

Thus, he tries to imply that he has an expert source that would support his overall idea to eat children.

He provides evidence of discussion with merchants regarding the prices of what the different proportions of the child could yield for the profit of the poor.

He also later cites a time in history when after young persons had been put to death, their bodies were used for profit.

Swift uses statistical, historical, and authoritative types of evidence yet each of his arguments are weak and ill-founded in reality.

 

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