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What are the six principal advantages of Jonathan Swift's plan in A Modest Proposal?

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alaylay64 | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 9, 2012 at 11:19 PM via web

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What are the six principal advantages of Jonathan Swift's plan in A Modest Proposal?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 10, 2012 at 4:01 AM (Answer #1)

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After unveiling his shocking plan to slaughter "surplus" Irish children for food, Swift argues (tongue in cheek, of course) that it has six advantages. First, it would reduce the numbers of Irish Catholics, who were loathed by the English. Second, it will give poor tenants, who, "their corn and cattle being already seized, and money a thing unknown," a salable commodity.  Third, it provide Ireland with a valuable export. Fourth, the "constant breeders" can rid themselves of the enormous cost of raising their children. Fifth, it will bring "great custom to taverns," where cooks can devise new recipes for cooking this novel dish. Finally, Smith argues that the practice would be a "great inducement" for poor women to marry and for husbands to care for their wives and for the children they produce:

It would encrease the care and tenderness of mothers towards their children, when they were sure of a settlement for life to the poor babes, provided in some sort by the publick, to their annual profit instead of expence. We should soon see an honest emulation among the married women, which of them could bring the fattest child to the market. Men would become as fond of their wives, during the time of their pregnancy, as they are now of their mares in foal, their cows in calf, or sow when they are ready to farrow; nor offer to beat or kick them (as is too frequent a practice) for fear of a miscarriage.

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