Write a modest proposal of your own in the manner of Swift to remedy a real problem; that is, propose an outrageous remedy in a reasonable voice.

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lynnebh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You will need to decide on a topic first. Since this essay was a social satire, why not choose one of the social evils of our own day - homlesessness, poverty, drug abuse, etc. Then, think of an outrageous way that you would solve the problem and follow the format of Swift's essay. First give facts and figures - you can just make them up, since this is a satire - and have fun with it. For example, if you chose homlessness, Swift's essay begins:

It is a melancholy object to those who walk through this great town or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads, and cabin doors, crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags and importuning every passenger for an alms. These mothers, instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in strolling to beg sustenance for their helpless infants: who as they grow up either turn thieves for want of work, or leave their dear native country to fight for the Pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to the Barbadoes

So you could start yours out, writing in modern English:

It is a sad state of affairs to walk down the streets of this great town or any town in the United States today for that matter and gaze upon the multitude of ragged men and women sleeping on park benches, huddled to keep warm over sidewalk vents, gulping cheap wine from bottles covered with paper bags. A recent article in Time Magazine reports that there are currently two billion homeless people in the United States and this number increases by another 200 every year.

You would continue on in this fashion, and give more facts, then make your proposal. It needs to be outrageous. Be creative. What could you propose to solve homelessness? You can have fun with this. Some suggestions:

  1. Since there is a shortage of teachers, the homeless should be gathered up on a bus and assigned to the various schools in the city to teach students.
  2. Since cities have to cut back on services, the homeless should all be given guns and deputized and made police officers.
  3. The homeless should be recruited into the military and sent to Iraq to fight.
  4. The homeless should be sent to Washington to run the country in place of politicians (this is my favorite! ha ha)

Good luck! See the information about this essay here on enotes.

Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Excellent answer above concerning your writing an essay in the manner of Swift's "A Modest Proposal."  One thought comes to mind.  Your satire should have targets, as Swift's does:  English landlords, English policies, Irish landlords, etc.  The outrageous solution should ridicule those who could fix the problem, but don't. 

Obesity in America seems appropriate for your assignment, with the fast food industry as the target.  The book or movie version of Fast Food Nation could give you plenty of details, evidence, etc. 

Just a thought.

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A Modest Proposal

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