There are several forms of irony, but the kind most frequently employed by Jonathan Swift in this work is verbal irony. Verbal irony is when someone says something which is the opposite of what they mean or which is obviously sarcastic.
Swift uses this type of irony right from the opening of this piece of work, which is a classic piece of ironic writing. His title, "A Modest Proposal," is openly ironic: what he is proposing is in fact an outrageous and extreme scheme, and the narrator's suggestion that it is "modest" is a clear example of irony.
There are other examples of irony throughout the piece. For example, Swift refers to begging as a "lawful occupation," which it clearly is not—he is here highlighting the fact that the state of poverty of mothers in Ireland had become so extreme that begging had become viewed as something normal and commonplace. Later, Swift notes that an American has told him that a young child is a delicious "wholesome food," however it might be prepared. The...
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