Taken as a whole, I would suggest that in "A Modest Proposal," Jonathan Swift's satire works on two distinct levels. First, Swift is addressing the problem of poverty within Ireland (a problem that is closely intertwined with the history of exploitation which England and Scotland were, themselves, culpable in creating). Secondly, he is levying a criticism against Enlightenment-era rationalism (a criticism reflected within the pamphlet's reasoned tone and style of argumentation, even as it advocates for the cannibalization of children).
Ultimately, Swift seems to be arguing that the problems facing Ireland are severe and require real solutions: solutions that must be based in an empathetic and humanistic perspective which pure rationalism would fail to provide.
Taken purely as a work of literature, "A Modest Proposal" must be viewed as highly successful. It still maintains its reputation as a satirical masterpiece into the present day. However, taken as a work intended to create real...
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