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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List four benefits offered from "A Modest Proposal."

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"A Modest Proposal" by Jonathan Swift is a satire . This means that when the narrator suggests ways in which the Irish will benefit by selling babies for food or eating them, Swift does not actually think these are good things; rather, he is attempting to make people...

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"A Modest Proposal" by Jonathan Swift is a satire. This means that when the narrator suggests ways in which the Irish will benefit by selling babies for food or eating them, Swift does not actually think these are good things; rather, he is attempting to make people sympathize with the plight of the Irish. Four of the major benefits offered by the scheme would be: 1. Selling babies for food would bring in sorely needed income for the poor Irish. Not only would babies be valued for their meat, but their skins could be used as leather. 2. The scheme would reduce overpopulation. Since overpopulation is a major cause of famine (due to the insufficiency of the land to support a large population), this would also reduce famine. It would also support the English goal of reducing the Irish Catholic population. 3. This scheme would mean fewer people reduced to begging or crime. 4. It would lead Irish Catholics to marry and have children, and it would reduce the frequency of domestic and child abuse and abortion.

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In Swift's "A Modest Proposal," the narrator offers the following four benefits for his plan of having the poor fatten and sell their babies as food:

1. It will bring in money to impoverished households. The narrator calculates the poor will make eight shillings in profit on each baby sold.

2. It will offer the tables of the rich a tender delicacy.

3. It will reduce wife abuse, as men will not want to damage pregnant women or women who are nursing and fattening their babies for sale.

4. As large numbers of these babies are eaten, it will reduce the number of Catholics in Ireland, a concern to the Protestant ruling class, which feared the "papists."

The benefits don't stop at four for this exuberant but clueless proposer: the plan will reduce abortions and infanticide, increase Ireland's overall wealth, and enterprising women will turn their babies' skins into gloves to sell to the rich, among other "positives" that the narrator suggests. 

 

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