A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift

A Modest Proposal book cover
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What is the intended effect of "A Modest Proposal" on the reader?

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Historically, Swift had tried several times to get the attention of the British Parliament and Irish officials, to make them see that the poverty and overpopulation of Ireland was a huge problem. Since he had tried several times before to get their attention, to no avail, he decided to get their attention by proposing that the children of the poor be sold and eaten. The persona that he uses is misanthropic, but Swift was truly sincere in wanting to help fix the problem for his people. If you define "the reader" as the government officials, then he was trying to get their attention so that they would do something about the problem. Nowadays, people see "A Modest Proposal" as funny and humorous, but we STUDY it to see the very skillful and exact manner with which he states his proposal. We can take from Swift, an example of how to create social change through satire.


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