A Modest Proposal Questions and Answers
by Jonathan Swift

A Modest Proposal book cover
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What does the narrator of "A Modest Proposal" hope to gain from his proposal, and what does he specifically not expect as a reward for his great idea?

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The answers to this question can be found in the last paragraph of "A Modest Proposal." Having suggested that Irish children be raised and reared to be food on the tables of Englishmen, and reassuring his readers that the plan would make a profit on those who are otherwise a burden on society, he says that his plan is only motivated by the "publick good of his country." In other words, he is only offering his plan for the good of Ireland--the purest of motives. He then goes on to specifically say that he does not stand to profit from his "proposal." His youngest child is nine years old, and his wife is "past child-bearing." In other words, he has no children that he could profit from. This paragraph makes for a delightfully wicked ending completely in keeping with the spirit of the satire in the essay. It also further drives home the point that Swift is satirizing the well-meaning and supposedly disinterested philosophers who seek coldly rational and profit-driven solutions to human problems. 

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