What is Swift suggesting in "A Modest Proposal"?

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pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jonathan Swift's suggestion in "A Modest Proposal," is presented as a real solution to a problem that is occurring in Ireland.  There is an imbalance of trade between England and Ireland,  and the Irish Catholics appear to have more children than they can properly take care of, with regard to food, clothes, etc. so Swift suggests that the poor children of Ireland who are such a burden to their parents, be raised like domestic livestock, to be fattened for sale at the market to provide a food source for the rich of England.

Swift goes to such great detail to make this proposal appear logical, both economically and politically that the satire of the piece runs right to its core. 

This would solve two problems at once, it would address the overpopulation situation in Ireland and would help to create a new commodity for trade with England. Swift takes shots at both the Irish and the English.  The Irish are scolded for having no self-respect and the English are chided for stripping Ireland of all their resources.  Crops were exported to England, while the Irish were left to starve.

Swift concludes that neither the Irish or the English should  object to the suggestion, the proposal will solve both problems.  

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A Modest Proposal

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