What are some of the other "expedients" that the author suggests in "A Modest Proposal"?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ultimately, Swift's narrator isn't actually offering other suggestions or expedients—he believes that his proposal is the best one—but, rather, he declares that "no man [should] talk to [him]" of these other potential measures for dealing with the Irish because there is no "glimpse of hope, that there will ever be some hearty and sincere attempt to put them into practice." This is still Swift's narrator speaking, but, Swift, through this narrator, insinuates that people are too corrupt, too vain, too lazy, and too lacking in mercy and compassion to actually pursue these other possible expedients, and this is the reason he has had to pen such a ludicrous piece of satire in the first place.

He says that one such expedient would be to tax the English who live abroad. A second would be to use only products that are "of our own growth and manufacture"—items made at home and not abroad. Third, he says that citizens could reject "the materials and instruments that promote foreign luxury." If people stop buying foreign imports, then more money stays at home, instead of making other countries richer. Fourth, he says that they might cure the "expensiveness of pride, vanity, idleness, and gaming in our women." Vain women could spend less money on frivolous things, and this money could be put to better use: i.e., helping the poor. Fifth, the English might begin to exercise "parsimony, prudence and temperance." Similarly, extras could go to help others survive. Sixth, they could learn to "love [their] country." If the English could learn to think of the Irish as their countrymen and women, then they might care more about helping Ireland. Seventh, they might quit their "animosities and factions" and cease in-fighting. Eighth, they could be more "cautious not to sell [their] country and consciences for nothing." Ninth, landlords could be taught to "have at least one degree of mercy toward their tenants." They could stop raising the rents to an amount that the poor Irish tenant farmers cannot afford while still managing to feed their families. Finally, tenth, shopkeepers could be prevailed upon to exercise "honesty, industry, and skill," dealing justly with the public.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Your original question contained two questions. You are not allowed to ask multiple questions in enotes, so I have edited the second question and will focus on your first. Please remember to only ask one question in the future.

Interestingly, towards the end of his essay, having unveiled his master plan to solve the famine in Ireland, Swift goes on to actually make some very good suggestions that would work to alleviate the suffering. These normally appear in italics to indicate Swift's sincerity and are referred to as "expedients" by Swift. These ideas include the following: taxing English landowners who refuse to live on their property, only using home produced clothes and furniture, becoming more temperate and frugal and not devoting oneself to idle pursuits such as gambling, learning to love Britain and leaving animosities behind, teaching landlords to look after their tenants and generally not seeking to exploit others.

Interestingly, all of these measures were actually advocated by Swift during his lifetime. Although overtly the pamphlet appears to be against these "expedients," it is clear that Swift is emphasising Britain's complete and abject failure to take steps to alleviate the misery of the poor in Ireland. The text is very dismissive of these logical and sensible decisions, just as Britain has been dismissive of them previously.

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A Modest Proposal

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