Who was Jonathan Swift's audience in A Modest Proposal?  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The elevated style of A Modest Proposal—a parody of scientific papers presented to the Royal Society—indicates that Swift's audience consists of men much like himself: learned, intelligent, politically conscious. In order for a parody to work it has to be possible to identify what exactly is being parodied. And so Swift's intended audience will have had some familiarity with the kind of scientific proposals which A Modest Proposal satirizes.

They would also have needed to have a fairly good knowledge of contemporary Irish politics, in particular the exploitative relationship between Ireland and her British colonial overlords. In writing the Proposal, Swift wanted to draw attention, in his own unique way, to the general contempt that the British political establishment had for Ireland and its people, especially the Catholic majority, who labored under numerous civil disabilities.

Most of Ireland's Catholic population lived in conditions of quite unimaginable squalor, and Swift and others...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 822 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 6, 2020
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on November 5, 2019