Can someone help me with a satire analysis of Jonathan Smith's "A Modest Poposal"

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amymc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jonathan Swift's art of satire is most evident in his "Modest Proposal."  From the title, we see an example of satire in his choice of the word modest.  Eating children as a way of reviving the economy of Ireland is not in any way modest!

In addition, Swift uses logical, rational analysis to reach and illogical, irrational solution.  He compares the weight of the children to the amount of food they could provide and even suggests uses for the flesh, such as glove-making or clothing.  He is attempting to show that logic is not always workable in emotional situations such as those facing Ireland under England's oppressive rule.

Of course satire is an effort to make a positive change by raising issues the satirist feels need to be reformed.  In Swift's mind, England was devouring Ireland, so the metaphor of devouring children arises as an apt comparison.  Both are equally revolting.

Finally, his satire is complete by offering a list of the changes he would like to see by framing them as the most illogical solutions.  These include taxing absentee landords and other reforms that WOULD be considered rational.

The ludicrous solution he presents is then compared to the actual reforms he offers with the hope that people would see that the actual reforms could work.

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