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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What is an analysis of Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal"?

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"A Modest Proposal" is among the best known satirical prose works of the English language, a work widely taught and studied across the Anglosphere. The work itself, as many satires, was born from an impulse of righteous indignation and pity at the sufferings of the Irish poor. It argues for the need to remedy their sufferings through what is known as a reductio ad absurdum. That is, is shows that the failure to apply workable remedies and to suggest that the Irish themselves find a way out of poverty rather than receiving charity from the English, leads to an absurd consequence; since they have no ability to feed themselves the only solution would be one so abhorrent that the reader is compelled to revisit the charitable options the narrator pretends to dismiss in the opening.

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