tablesetting complete with forks, knives, and spoons, and a baby on the plate in the center above the words "A Modest Proposal"

A Modest Proposal

by Jonathan Swift
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I am writing an essay on "A Modest Proposal" by Jonathan Swift. I am trying to demonstrate how he uses the persona (the humanitarian etc.) to front his message.

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In this essay, Swift creates a persona or character, often called the Proposer. It's important to note that Swift is not this narrator. The narrator or Proposer is a clueless man Swift has created in order to satirize (make fun of) people--such as economists, mathemeticians and other rationalists of his era--who understood the problems of poverty only in economic terms. This clueless persona, the Proposer (we might also call him The Rationalist), innocently misleads the reader into thinking he is a humane individual who wants to devise a compassionate solution to the problem of poverty in Ireland. In the early part of the essay, he describes the poor in moving terms, talking about mothers begging in the streets with their children in rags trailing after them, depicting young men so famished that when they do get work the labor kills them, and mentioning the dire alternatives the poor face, such as starvation or selling themselves into slavery. Thus, we as readers are shocked to find this Proposer, though apparently sincere, can't seem to comprehend that the "poor" he wants to help are actually fully human. He proposes a purely economic solution: having the mothers of the poor fatten their babies so they can be sold as food to wealthy landowners. Through creating a persona of the Rationalist, who, though wanting to be compassionate, can't get past seeing "the poor" as widgets or economic units, Swift hoped to shock readers into a genuinely compassionate response to the problem of poverty. 

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