How does Swift portray himself throughout "A Modest Proposal"? In what places does he reveal an egotistical persona?

1 Answer | Add Yours

accessteacher's profile pic

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

Posted on

As the title of this essay suggests, the speaker of this treatise makes every effort to present himself as, above all, a reasonable and modest individual who diffidently makes his "modest proposal." This is of course part of Swift's irony, as his proposal is anything but modest, and the voice of the speaker in this essay heightens the irony when the proposal is finally made. Note how this is achieved through the following quotation:

I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.

What makes the way in which his ideas are expressed even worse is the logic, hard work and thought that has evidently gone into them through his many calculations, and his attempt to work out how much food could be made from a child and how many children could be raised and what price children as a food source could be sold for. Swift, by presenting these arguments in above all else a reasonable voice, shows the danger of a system of thought which is divorced from feelings and morality and only sees humans as a saleable commodity.


We’ve answered 318,915 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question