In A Modest Proposal, to what extent does Swift blame Ireland's plight on England, and to what extent does he blame Ireland's plight on the Irish? 

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Swift definitely blames the wealthy English more than the poor Irish for the state of things in Ireland. The narrator says things like how the rich English landlords "have already devoured most of the [Irish] parents," and so they might as well eat the Irish children too. Such a statement...

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Swift definitely blames the wealthy English more than the poor Irish for the state of things in Ireland. The narrator says things like how the rich English landlords "have already devoured most of the [Irish] parents," and so they might as well eat the Irish children too. Such a statement points a finger at the practices of the wealthy English, characterizing them as absolutely lacking in compassion or empathy.

Swift also makes his speaker absolutely ridiculous. He says things that are flat wrong; for example, he describes the average size of a newborn as twelve pounds. The average size of a newborn in the twenty-first century isn't even twelve pounds. There is no way that the average infant born to an impoverished and malnourished Irish mother in the early eighteenth century was twelve pounds. This man, evidently a wealthy English Protestant himself (because he lists the decreasing amount of Catholics as a benefit of his proposal) looks like a total idiot as a result of a number of erroneous statements like this.

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In this satirical essay, Swift does show both the English and the Irish has contributing to the poverty and starvation of the people in Ireland. His emphasis is more on fixing the problem than identifying a person to blame, though he emphasizes Ireland's contribution more. As for England, Swift mentions absentee landowners preying on the poor in Ireland. He calls them out for their high rent and low value. In the last few paragraphs of the essay, though, Swift focuses on what the Irish could be doing (but are not) that would help their situation: "taxing our absentees...using...what is of our own growth and manufacture, rejecting...foreign luxury, curing the expensiveness of pride, vanity, idleness, and gaming..." and the list goes on. While, yes, their is same responsibility directed towards the English, Swift largely is telling the Irish that if they want their situation to change, they need to take steps to force it to change (rather than just lamenting the way things are).

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