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What are some of the other "expedients" that the author suggests in "A Modest Proposal"?

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mikedice24 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 24, 2011 at 7:20 PM via web

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What are some of the other "expedients" that the author suggests in "A Modest Proposal"?

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

Posted January 24, 2011 at 7:33 PM (Answer #1)

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Your original question contained two questions. You are not allowed to ask multiple questions in enotes, so I have edited the second question and will focus on your first. Please remember to only ask one question in the future.

Interestingly, towards the end of his essay, having unveiled his master plan to solve the famine in Ireland, Swift goes on to actually make some very good suggestions that would work to alleviate the suffering. These normally appear in italics to indicate Swift's sincerity and are referred to as "expedients" by Swift. These ideas include the following: taxing English landowners who refuse to live on their property, only using home produced clothes and furniture, becoming more temperate and frugal and not devoting oneself to idle pursuits such as gambling, learning to love Britain and leaving animosities behind, teaching landlords to look after their tenants and generally not seeking to exploit others.

Interestingly, all of these measures were actually advocated by Swift during his lifetime. Although overtly the pamphlet appears to be against these "expedients," it is clear that Swift is emphasising Britain's complete and abject failure to take steps to alleviate the misery of the poor in Ireland. The text is very dismissive of these logical and sensible decisions, just as Britain has been dismissive of them previously.

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